Matt Bryant missed two field goals. Matt Ryan doesn’t throw a touchdown for the first time in 28 games. The Falcons scored less than 20 points for the first time this season. This equals the first loss for the Birds, right?
That is not the case, because the Falcons made enough plays on both sides of the ball to get a win over the Dallas Cowboys 19-13 in a Sunday night affair at the Georgia Dome.
“Winning in the NFL is a week-to-week proposition,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “I thought our guys really had a hard-fought football game against a very good football team.”
Dallas jumped to a 6-0 lead after Dan Bailey kicked a couple of field goals in the first quarter. However, the Falcons were able to tie the game at six before the first half when Matt Bryant nailed two field goals of his own. Bryant would miss one field goal in the first quarter and would miss another field goal in the third, which would have put the Falcons up by three heading into the fourth.
But Bryant as well as Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers came up big in the fourth quarter for the Falcons.
After running for 49 yards on four carries in the third quarter, Turner would carry that momentum into the fourth quarter as he rushed for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Falcons the lead for the first time. They would increase their lead to 10 latter in the quarter when Bryant kicked a 36-yard field goal.
Dallas would cut the lead to three on the ensuing drive when Tony Romo threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree. But the Falcons were able to score on their next drive when Bryant kicked a 32-yarder to end a 12-play 66-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock.
Rodgers came up big on that series twice. He caught a 31-yard pass from Ryan on a third-and-six play and caught an 11-yard pass on a third-and-five play six plays later.
“Jacquizz made some big plays,” Smith said. “When you have a deep football team, different players are going to have to step up and make plays. You’re role changes week-to-week within a game when you are one of the 46 guys dressed.”
Despite Ryan not throwing for a touchdown, he still was effective, throwing for 342 yards and finishing with a 102.8 QB rating. White caught seven passes for 118 yards and Jones caught five passes for 129 yards.
The one thing they would have like to have done better in this game is turn those five field goals into touchdowns and that’s something they will work on moving forward.
“It’s going to be like that sometimes,” Turner said who rushed for 102 yards. “But we have to find ways to finish, get better and score touchdowns.”
If the Falcons defense continues to play like they did for the rest of the season, they won’t have to worry about scoring a lot of touchdowns. Despite allowing Romo to throw for 321 yards and one touchdown, the defense forced the Cowboys to punt four consecutive times, which led to the Falcons taking the lead in the third quarter.
“There are so many different ways to win football games,” Smith said whose defense has not forced a turnover in the last two games. “The League is so close each and every week, 56 to 60 percent of the games are eight points or less.
Now the Falcons are 8-0 and still have a four game lead on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFC South lead. They still have a one game lead on the Chicago Bears for the best record for the conference. But the Falcons aren’t worried about winning the division, playoff seeding of being undefeated right now. They are focused on getting better each week and winning the next game, which will be the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday.
“Our main concern is getting better week in and week out,” Tony Gonzalez said. “Not going undefeated. Our goal is to win each game that we play.”