The Atlanta Falcons dominated the Dallas Cowboys 27-7 Sunday in part due to a historic performance by defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn and a smooth passing day by quarterback Matt Ryan. However, the afternoon did not start out smooth for the Dirty Birds.
On Dallas’s first drive of the game, quarterback Dak Prescott’s pass was intercepted by cornerback Desmond Trufant. However, the pick was nullified by a penalty on defensive lineman Vic Beasley.
Ultimately, the Cowboys would punt and the Falcons immediately were dealt two big blows. First, running back Devonta Freeman was knocked out of the game with a concussion after Atlanta’s second play of the contest. Next, quarterback Matt Ryan’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Dallas’s Xavier Woods.
The Cowboys scored first on an eleven yard touchdown run by Dak Prescott, which capped a four play, 21 yard drive. Little did they know, it would be the final time they’d score in the contest.
The Falcons defense held Prescott to 176 passing yards and sacked him eight times. Clayborn had six of those sacks, setting a franchise record. Also, Clayborn became the third player since 1990 to notch six sacks in a game.
“You can always envision, doesn’t mean that it is going to happen, but I’m blessed that I’m finally in my groove,” said Clayborn after the game. “I feel like we now know what we can be and it’s showing and proving, so we’ve just got to take it and keep going. You just have to take yourself to that mindset that you are not going to get beat, and that’s where I went today. This shows that we can do it, and we have been known to do it, but now we are showing it. We’ve got that feeling that we know we can do it.”
Meanwhile, Matt Ryan completed 22-of-29 passes for 215 yards, threw two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. During the game, Ryan became the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards in NFL history (151 games). The Atlanta signal caller also extended his streaks of 200 or more passing yards to 64 games while throwing a touchdown pass in 27 straight games.
“I thought we executed better than we have all year,” said Ryan after Sunday’s win. “When we had our opportunities to make plays, guys stepped up across the board and executed the way that we needed to. I felt like we have been close throughout the year. I’ve been saying that, but we haven’t been making the plays when they’ve presented themselves. I thought today we did. We showcased what we’re capable of doing, if we go out there and execute at the level we’re capable of.”
The Atlanta Falcons are 5-4 on the season, currently 3rd in the NFC South with seven games remaining in the 2017 campaign.