The Falcons were 4-5 coming into today’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but seemed to have more questions than answers stemming from their shock 28-16 loss on the road against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. Dallas also arrived at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a 4-5 record after a huge division win against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. However, it was America’s Team that walked away with the win, defeating the Falcons 22-19. The loss severely damaged Atlanta’s playoff hopes.
In the 1st Quarter after Atlanta received the opening kick and drove into Dallas territory, Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked forcing a Falcons punt. The Cowboys got the ball on their own 12 yards like and went on a methodical 15 play, 85-yard drive down to the Falcon 3-yard line. Atlanta’s defense held on a tremendous pass break up by Corner Desmond Trufant, and Dallas settled for a 21-yard field goal by Brett Maher, making it 3-0.
On the Falcons 2nd possession, which carried into the 2nd Quarter, also went methodical, mixing play action pass and the run to get down the field quickly. The drive stalled at the 23 after another sack, but Kicker Matt Bryant, returning from injury, tied the contest up at 3 with a 41-yard Field Goal. After a series of stalled drives by both teams that took most of the quarter, Bryant hit another field goal from 45 yards out to make it 6-3 going into the half.
Dallas took the opening possession of the 2nd half and got down to the 32 of Atlanta but had to settle for a 50-yard field goal by Maher to tie the contest at 6-6. The Falcons would answer with a 7 play, 47-yard drive, and go up 9-6 with another Matt Bryant field goal from 53 yards. Dallas took the next possession and went on a long drive, using star running back Ezekiel Elliott and some timely passing to get down deep in Falcon territory as the 3rd Quarter ended.
At the beginning of the 4th Quarter, Dallas got in scoring position as Dak Prescott completed a pass to Cole Beasley to the 4-yard line. The drive was paid off with a 4-yard run by Prescott. The extra point failed and the score 12-9, with 14:19 left in the contest. After Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley tipped a Ryan pass in the air, it was intercepted by linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and returned 28 yards. Two plays later Elliott would score on a 23-yard touchdown, which the Cowboys’ lead to 19-9.
The Falcons would answer with a 9 play, 72-yard drive that would get bogged down at the 3. Bryant would hit his 4th Field Goal of the day from 21-yards, making the score 19-12. The Falcon Defense got a much needed stop and got the football back with 4:02 left in the contest. They went on a 6 play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 34 yard scoring strike from Ryan to Julio Jones, making it 19-19 with 1:52 left in the game.
Dallas started on their own 25 and went on a 10 play, 51 yard drive to end the contest on a 42 yard Maher field goal making the final score 22-19. Dallas improved their record to 5-5 on the year while Atlanta dropped to 4-6 on the season.
“No one wants to lose in that fashion, but unfortunately that was the case for us today,” Falcons Cornerback Robert Alford said after the game. “Like I said, we’re going to go back tomorrow and see what things we can improve on and get those things corrected.”
Atlanta will travel to New Orleans on Thanksgiving night to take on the Saints in a crucial NFC South clash.
“I told the team in the locker room today that preparation was right; the mindset was right and that’s tough when it goes the other way,” Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn said after the game. “We found ourselves in lots of close games. This year we played as it comes down to the end and we must close in those situations. So, knowing that’s an area for us that not only have we targeted, but we’ve got to get the job done. I understand some of you will talk big picture. But honestly, for us, the only thing on our minds is getting ready to go fight and play on Thursday night. And that’s where our focus will lie heading into this week for the preparation to get ready to go play a game.”