Sunday, November 4, 2012
Atlanta Falcons 19, Dallas Cowboys 13
Cowboys offense goes into early hibernation as team falls to 3-5.
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't get anything going offensively Sunday night in Atlanta, losing 19-13 to the Falcons. The loss was their second straight and dropped Dallas to 3-5, still two and a half games behind the 6-3 New York Giants for first place in the NFC East. Atlanta improved to 8-0.
Dallas opened the night on a good note when the defense forced Atlanta's plodding offense into a three-and-out, then gave the offense terrific field position thanks to Dwayne Harris' 37-yard punt return. Starting from the Falcons' 32, the Cowboys got down to the Atlanta 6 before stalling and settling for a 23-yard Dan Bailey field goal.
When Atlanta got the ball back, they drove down to the Dallas 19 -- mostly on one play, a 38-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones -- but Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed a 37-yard field goal to keep the score at 3-0.
Dallas capitalized on the miss with a long drive of their own that was also almost entirely one play. Following a holding call and two incompletions, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo found a streaking Kevin Ogletree on 3rd-and-20 and hit him for a 65-yard completion down to the Atlanta 18. The offense stalled again after that, and Bailey hit a 32-yard field goal to make it 6-0 Dallas with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
Atlanta responded with a seven-play drive, including passes of 20 yards to Jones and 18 to Roddy White, which culminated in a 45-yard field goal to make it 6-3 Dallas. After Dallas drove and missed a 54-yard field goal, the teams traded punts until the final seconds of the first half, when Bryant drilled a 46-yard field goal to make it 6-6 at halftime.
The Cowboys offense sputtered in the third, punting twice while the Falcons missed another long field goal, then a touchdown when Michael Turner ran it in from the three -- following a 43 yard run earlier to take the Falcons down to the Dallas 14 -- to make it 13-6 Atlanta.
Dallas responded with a lethargic three-and-out, and Atlanta drove down for another field goal to make it 16-6 with just 7:49 remaining. Finally the Cowboys offense seemed to snap out of their funk, as Romo hit six straight passes for 78 yards, hitting Ogletree for a 21-yard touchdown with 5:21 remaining to bring the Cowboys to within three.
With plenty of time on the clock for a comeback, all Dallas needed was a defensive stop. Unfortunately, it was the defensive unit's turn to fail. Immediately backing Atlanta into a 1st-and-20 on their own ten with a penalty, Dallas proceeded to give up a 10-yard run to Turner, a four yard completion to Tony Gonzalez, and finally, a 32-yard completion to Jacquizz Rodgers on 3rd-and-6 in which Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick whiffed on a tackle that would've given the ball back to Romo with good field position.
Scandrick followed that up with a defensive holding penalty on a 3rd-and-8 incompletion, and Rodgers juked his way to another huge third-down completion a few plays later to essentially seal the game. Atlanta let the clock run down to 0:17 before hitting their fourth field goal of the night to cap the scoring at 19-13.
Romo got the ball back at his own 20 with no timeouts and just 17 seconds remaining, but threw three short-yardage plays that ate up precious clock before a desperation-heave to Felix Jones gained 39 yards but little else as the game ended.
Romo had a mediocre day, going 25-of-35 for 321 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. Jones led the team with 39 yards on nine carries, while led the receiving corps with four catches for 96 yards and the lone touchdown. Jason Witten did managed to catch eight passes for 51 yards, passing Michael Irvin to become the all-time franchise leader in catches, with 755.
Matt Ryan had a quiet but solid effort for the Falcons, going 24-of-34 for 342 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Turner carried the ball 20 times for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Julio Jones caught six passes for 129 yards and Roddy White caught 10 balls for 118 yards.
Dallas next heads to Philadelphia, where they will face the reeling 3-4 Eagles in a battle to avoid last place in the NFC East.