Written by Brian Pohl
Atlanta, GA- The Atlanta Falcons, in their most complete game of the season, defeated the Dallas Cowboys 27-7 as all phases of the Falcons team played well.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quin spoke about the complete game played by his team during his post-game press conference saying, “I told the team in the locker room [it was] really a brotherhood win because we really included all three phases, and that’s what we’re searching, that’s what we’re hoping, that’s what we need to do. The energy tonight was great, and that includes our fans to have them here, and we felt that.”
A defensive struggle in the first half saw only 250-yards of total offense between the two teams before the Atlanta offense would take over in the second half. The first score of the game came on a drive by the Cowboys after intercepting Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan deep inside Falcons territory. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott would take advantage quickly and score from 11-yards out to give the Cowboys the early lead, but it would be the only time they would score in the game.
The Falcons would bounce back in a big way, as Ryan marched the offense right down the field on the next possession to get the team on the scoreboard after Falcons kicker Matt Bryant’s 50-yard field goal. The next 11 minutes and 35 seconds of game time would go unscored until Atlanta was able to punch a one-yard touchdown in from running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman would line-up behind defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who lined up at fullback for several plays in the game, and follow him right into the end zone giving the Falcons their first lead, the only one that they would need, of the game at 10-7.
Atlanta would then receive the ball to start the second half, and would take an 11-play 75-yard drive into the endzone off of a Ryan pass to wide receiver Justin Hardy from four-yards out. This pushed the Falcons lead to 17-7, who then turned back to the defense to continue to stymie the Cowboys offense for the rest of the game.
Another Falcons touchdown to open the fourth quarter from Ryan to tight end Austin Hooper would further extend the Atlanta lead to 24-7, and a late field goal from Bryant would give us our final score for the game as the Falcons executed their game plan well in all aspects.
Matt Ryan would finish his day with his most efficient game of the season completing 22 of his 29 passes for 215-yards and two touchdowns. Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones finished with six catches for 57-yards but wasn’t relied upon as the deep threat that he is as the Falcons lead was never in question.
Falcons starting running back Devonta Freeman exited the game early with a concussion and left the bulk of the remaining carries to his backfield duo partner in running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman would finish with 20 carries for 83-yards and a touchdown, providing a much-needed spark in the absence of Freeman.
Defensively, the story for the Falcons was the tremendous game played by defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Breaking the Falcons record for most sacks in one game, Clayborn would finish with six sacks and forced two fumbles, one of which he recovered. The huge game from Clayborn was a spark to the whole team, and the Falcons will look to carry this spark through the rest of the season.
Coach Quinn said of Clayborn’s performance saying, “the story of today was defensively Adrian Clayborn and the performance he had, to have that kind of night, a huge night.” He continued, “Just think a year ago he was in a dark place, had an injury, and the future was in doubt. For him to recognize that type of hard work gets rewarded, I was very, very happy for him.”
The Falcons will next travel to Seattle to take on the 6-3 Seahawks on Century Link Field. The rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Round will see the Seahawks look to get revenge after the Falcons defeated the Seahawks in Atlanta 36-20. The Falcons will look to build on the momentum gained from tonight’s victory, as they have moved back over the .500 record to 5-4 on the season.
The game will be next week’s Monday Night Football game at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.