Call it luck or whatever you want but eight games into the season the Atlanta Falcons are still perfect at 8-0 after dispatching the Dallas Cowboys 19-13 Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.
There is no doubt Atlanta dodged a bullet or two. Matt Bryant’s two missed field goals and Matt Ryan’s fumble did not turn into post-game regrets.
Bryant missed an opportunity to answer a 23 yard field goal from Dan Bailey on the Cowboys first offensive series. Dwayne Harris returned a punt from Atlanta’s Matt Bosher 37 yards to the Falcons 32. Tony Romo moved the offense as far as the five yard line before taking a shot at the endzone. Romo’s pass to Cole Beasley sailed out of the back of the endzone. “There style of defense down there is to not allow you to throw the ball over them,” said Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett. “You have to run the ball effectively. You have to throw the ball underneath against this team. We tried a couple of those things, they didn’t work out for us and we settled for fieldgoals”.
Oddly enough, the one touchdown the Cowboys were able to put on the board came as a result of a Tony Romo pass to Kevin Ogletree in the back of the endzone.
After Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan went out on a limb earlier in the week by guaranteeing a Cowboys win, the onus was on the defense to lead the charge. It was clear from the coin toss the defense wanted to get to Ryan. “He is the engine that makes the whole thing go,” said Garrett. “So you want to try and affect him in different ways. I thought we did that and different times. I think he did a good job continuing to move the ball throughout the ball game though.” Ryan was sacked 3 times, hurried 6 more times, and knocked down several more times and still finished with 342 yards on 24 of 34 passing.
Arguably Ryan’s biggest pass of the game as an 11 yarder to Jacquizz Rodgers on 3 and 5 to keep the Falcons last drive alive and the clock ticking towards zeroes. The play also helped set up Bryant’s final field goal and a six point spread. The extra 3 forced the Cowboys to go for a touchdown with just 17 seconds remaining on the game clock.
Romo dodged a few bullets of his own to finish the game without a single interceptions and 321 yards on a highly efficient 25 of 35 day. His string of interceptions was broken thanks to a penalty and a drop. Asante Samuel got his hands on a Romo pass at the goal line intended for Dez Bryant but the 10 year vet couldn’t hang on. A defensive holding call on Dunta Robinson nullified Thomas DeCoud’s fifth interception.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten surpassed Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin on the team’s all time reception list.
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