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Sunday night wrap-up: Falcons stay perfect

Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

You don’t get to be undefeated without being good.

But the quality the Falcons have shown this season goes beyond individual games.

Sunday night’s 19-13 win over the Cowboys moved the Falcons to 8-0, with a four-game lead in the NFC South that could be sewn up by Thanksgiving. (Watch highlights here.)

Whether they’re missing field goals (two rare ones by Matt Bryant), or not able to play they way they were accustomed to, there’s still a sense that they’re going to win, a calm exuded by coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.

The four-minute drill they ran to kill clock, move chains and get the final field goal was a thing of beauty, a testament to taking what was there, and letting the other guy flinch.

Because through half the season, the Falcons haven’t yet.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The stage was set for the Cowboys to win this one. November’s when Tony Romo generally looks best, and they’ve beaten undefeated teams the last three times they faced them in this situation.

But the Cowboys are 3-5 right now for a reason.

They’re not consistent enough when well, and they’re not healthy enough to overcome it right now.

2. At some point, for the Falcons to pull off the January win that has eluded them, they’re going to need to run well.

But it’s unclear if they have the personnel to do it.

Michael Turner, most weeks, looks done. Even his 20-carry, 102-yard line is deceiving. When he gets a hole, he turns runs that would have gone to the house a few years ago into nothing.

Other than a game against the Panthers this year (13 carries for 103 yards) and against his old friends in San Diego (14 carries for 80 yards) and one run against the Cowboys, he’s looked very much like a 30-year-old this season.

The Panthers and Chargers were the only two games this season he’s rushed for more than 4.0 yards per attempt. It’s like he’s only got one game per month in that old body. They better use it judiciously.

Throw out Sunday’s 43-yard anomaly around the corner, and Turner averaged 3.1 per carry against the Cowboys.

And watching backup Jacquizz Rodgers get stuffed by Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter when he tried to run inside does nothing to make you think he’s going to be the guy they need to step up when Turner doesn’t.

3. Of course, part of the struggle of the Falcons run game has to do with the defense the Cowboys were playing.

They obviously will miss injured linebacker Sean Lee, but have gotten good fill-in work from Carter. He was good in the run game, and ran down Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in the fourth quarter, showing excellent speed.

And former first-round bust Ernie Sims has been OK getting up off the couch to start in place of Dan Connor. But fill-ins can only play at a level higher than they are for so long.

4. Happy birthday Dez Bryant. Hope somebody got you a ticket to the game.

What’s that, you got paid for this?

Maybe that hip injury is worse than they’re letting on. The Friday night curfew story is a little silly, but the reality is he disappeared tonight in a game they needed him.

Bryant had one catch for 15 yards, and they took him off punt returns because they didn’t trust him anymore. (And Dwayne Harris ripping off a 37-yarder in his first chance didn’t do anything to change that.)

And since the game was on prime time television, the obligatory Kevin Ogletree appearance (a fourth quarter touchdown) helped cover up Bryant’s own absence.

5. A Falcons offensive line that was a mess last year has solidified nicely this year.

Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked just 15 times in seven games coming in, but took several hard shots in the first half, including a clean shot from DeMarcus Ware that had them wiping paint off the front of Ryan’s helmet where it slammed into the midfield logo.

Left tackle Sam Baker has bounced back well, lending a stability to the operation they lacked last year. They were facing a good pass-rush, but they held up, and kept Ryan on his feet.

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39 Responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: Falcons stay perfect”
  1. krismn22 says: Nov 4, 2012 11:35 PM

    I think Mike Smith should give the game ball to Orlando Scandrick

  2. necr0philia says: Nov 4, 2012 11:36 PM

    Goooo Dirty Birds. And to the big mouth Dallas fans let the Excuses start NOW!! Not all Dallas fans just the few that was here running that mouth. 8-0 baby!

  3. spytdi says: Nov 4, 2012 11:36 PM

    After Jerry fires Jerry, the new GM has to fire Garrett. He is pathetic as a game manager.

  4. geniusfan says: Nov 4, 2012 11:37 PM

    This weeks game was pretty boring, thankfully we have a barn-burner to look forward to next week Bears and Texans should be good.

  5. hardh3ad says: Nov 4, 2012 11:38 PM

    I don’t want to hear anything else about the cowboys cornerbacks when one of our recievers has 129 yrds & the other 118. See what happens when you go up against real recievers? Carr & Claiborne are overrated!!! Yeah true we still have to win in the playoffs but its not January yet & this feels oh so good. 8-0!

  6. yelix says: Nov 4, 2012 11:39 PM

    The Cowboys could lose 7 in a row and be 3-12, and networks would still be scrambling to talk about them as Super Bowl contenders in week 17.

    The dream is over in Dallas, folks. Has been for a while, and it will be until big changes are made.

  7. ragingmouse says: Nov 4, 2012 11:39 PM

    The cowboys are snake-bit…

    Here’s the bad thing about it, its a two headed snake …Jerry and Jason!

  8. CKL says: Nov 4, 2012 11:40 PM

    Scandrick’s not going to enjoy the film room tomorrow. Yeesh.
    I thought it was interesting in the pregame interview with JJ when he basically admitted to Costas if he had a separate GM, he would have fired that guy by now for his performance.

  9. usmutts says: Nov 4, 2012 11:41 PM

    So much for Rob “the human blob” Ryan’s boast. The Ryan boys always fail to put up yet never shut up.

  10. mrbigass says: Nov 4, 2012 11:41 PM

    And in other news, Jerry Jones just fired himself………film at eleven.

  11. goldrush36 says: Nov 4, 2012 11:47 PM

    Garrett goin bye bye

  12. cootschaos says: Nov 4, 2012 11:49 PM

    Falcons win! Hey lets talk about how great The Cowboys and Eagles are on paper all of next week.

  13. andreweac says: Nov 4, 2012 11:50 PM

    Cowboys have lost 9 of their last 13 games. How Jason Garrett is still employed is beyond the comprehension of the collective wisdom of the universe.

  14. i10east says: Nov 4, 2012 11:53 PM

    The Dirty Birds are really ’2 Legit 2 Quit’ in 2012 *I know that was cheesy*

  15. nelszz says: Nov 4, 2012 11:57 PM

    saints fans, I’m waiting to hear how you will put down the Falcons this time. Howe’s the view from down there?

  16. dutzer36 says: Nov 4, 2012 11:59 PM

    Does that mean the falcons won’t win the super bowl bc they Didnt LOSE to the cowboys? let find another stat….

  17. CKL says: Nov 5, 2012 12:01 AM

    Mike Smith’s Falcons teams are 43-0 when leading by 6+ in the 4th quarter. Now that’s knowing how to close.

  18. jessethegreat says: Nov 5, 2012 12:07 AM

    One’s gotta believe Jerry will be offering a boatload of money to Sean Payton come offseason. It’s a good thing coaches don’t count against the salary cap because Payton can literally write his own check. He coached New Oleans to a Lombardi… Imagine the fanfare he will get if he gets “Americas Team” another?

  19. ieatchickens says: Nov 5, 2012 12:11 AM

    You mean to tell me every NFC East team that played, lost this weekend? What are the sportswriters going to write about.

    Due to a lack of total interest in football outside the east, the NFL season has been cancelled.

  20. bcfalcon says: Nov 5, 2012 12:17 AM

    As a falcons fan i am so proud of my team! It’s the small steps and hopefully Ryan gets his first playoff win soon enough. Good job on the tough win, you earned it.

  21. laserw says: Nov 5, 2012 12:20 AM

    We’ve seen this movie before – the Falcons usually have a gaudy regular season record and then CHOKE in the playoffs. There is nothing special about this team and it looks just as prime to collapse when the games really matter.

  22. kilo0986 says: Nov 5, 2012 12:25 AM

    Actually Robs defense did pretty damn good except for a few moment. Holding atlantas offense to 19 is no joke, too bad the offense is no better than warm puddle of piss

  23. cowboys8819 says: Nov 5, 2012 12:26 AM

    Garrett has to go that’s all there is to it! And falcons fans shut up y’all experience a little success and now you act like y’all have never been here before… oh yeah you haven’t just enjoy it while it lasts and be classy about it!

  24. CowboyErik says: Nov 5, 2012 12:33 AM

    sucky, atleast we got 2 games with eagles and 2 with deadskins, plus cleveland and cincy; that’s 6 wins, gets us to 9-7 is we don’t beat anyone else!

  25. doubledee88 says: Nov 5, 2012 1:16 AM

    The Falcons earn home field advantage through the playoffs only to let the Packers get hot in the post season and beat em again on their way to a fourth Superbowl..

  26. hutch119 says: Nov 5, 2012 2:08 AM

    And watching backup Jacquizz Rodgers get stuffed by Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter when he tried to run inside does nothing to make you think he’s going to be the guy they need to step up when Turner doesn’t.

    ———-

    I don’t get this statement, there is literally no running back in the league that would have made a positive of that play, he was hit as soon as he got the handoff. I can understand having problems with Jacquizz as he hasn’t run too well either but don’t use that play.

  27. filmex2000 says: Nov 5, 2012 2:34 AM

    “And watching backup Jacquizz Rodgers get stuffed by Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter when he tried to run inside does nothing to make you think he’s going to be the guy they need to step up when Turner doesn’t.”

    Uhhh, did you even watch the entire game???
    When Carter blows up the play in the backfield, how does that tell you anything about Rodgers?
    How about later when he made plays that practically left Cowboys defenders with broken ankles?

  28. hoopieguy says: Nov 5, 2012 4:01 AM

    So what do think guys? Packers-Texans? Maybe Texans-49r’s? Or how about Texans-Falcons? I say it’s one of those for super Sunday.

  29. all32 says: Nov 5, 2012 4:22 AM

    It’s week seven! Start talking about teams in week twelve when it matters, this is just window dressing. I’ll check in December.

  30. dirtdawg54 says: Nov 5, 2012 4:44 AM

    Good to see Rob Ryan’s defense live up to his boasting. Let’s check off what they did well. Let’s start with holding Atlanta to under 20 points. Check.

    Now let’s go to the rest of the stats. Umm. Marty Ice over 300 yards. 100 yard rusher. 100 yard receiver. Almost 500 yards of offense. Gave up points on 5 of the last 7 drives (with a missed FG on the sixth). Allowed Atlanta to chew up almost 10 minutes of clock in the 4th quarter while driving for the winning points. Never gave Romo a chance to win it by allowing Atlanta to chew up just over five minutes on final drive.

    Yep. That Ryan led defense is really, really good.

    What’s truly amazing is how few times the Ryans come through on their boasts given how much they shoot their mouths off. They talk so much you’d think at least one of their claims would come true.

    Maybe next week’s boasts will pay off for them.

  31. jharmon64 says: Nov 5, 2012 6:24 AM

    This game is a good example of how Atlanta is just hanging on by a thread to their undefeated record. They have a long way to go.

  32. jimmysee says: Nov 5, 2012 6:25 AM

    Didn’t Rob Ryan guarantee a win? That guy has less credibility than Mitt Romney talking about Jeep jobs in Ohio.

    (Or really, Mitt’s position on almost anything.)

  33. alewatcher says: Nov 5, 2012 7:05 AM

    jessethegreat says: Nov 5, 2012 12:07 AM

    One’s gotta believe Jerry will be offering a boatload of money to Sean Payton come offseason. It’s a good thing coaches don’t count against the salary cap because Payton can literally write his own check. He coached New Oleans to a Lombardi… Imagine the fanfare he will get if he gets “Americas Team” another?
    ———————

    I can’t see Sean Payton as a head coach for Jerry Jones. Payton would want actual control over his team, and JJs ego won’t let that happen. JJ would have to have a serious change of heart for Payton to even consider coaching Dallas.

  34. pastabelly says: Nov 5, 2012 7:43 AM

    I will start to be impressed if they win next week at New Orleans. Other than an early season home win against Denver, they have pretty much beaten up on a schedule of bad teams. They are in a general discussion of very good teams with Houston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, NY, Denver, New England, and San Francisco.

  35. aces79 says: Nov 5, 2012 8:17 AM

    Atlanta Falcons are very lucky to have aredord like that who have they played that has is good no one they should have 3 -loss by now they shouldve lost to carolina ,oakland, washington very luck if you ask me dont matter they sint going to do anything in the playoffs anyways lol

  36. stew48 says: Nov 5, 2012 8:40 AM

    Enjoyed the article, but as a 55 year fan of NFL, the “anomaly” run of Turner’s was far more the norm for runners who generate 100+ yards. I think if you checked and subtracted such long runs from backs who gained 100, but not 150 yards, my point would be clear.

  37. oaktown49er says: Nov 5, 2012 10:00 AM

    I’m a 49er fan who used to enjoy our rivalry with the Falcons, but all this talk about the Falcons not being good and being lucky is a joke. Atl is a very good team, everyone wants their record right now. Until proven otherwise they are the best in the league.

  38. ravenseattheirownpoop says: Nov 5, 2012 12:31 PM

    The Steelers would smoke em!!!

  39. dzor22 says: Nov 5, 2012 3:00 PM

    On all you people who use ‘luck’ as the reason Atl is 8-0. Pay attention. This is the NFL. The team with the most points win. If the team we beat was good enough–they would have beat us. Next time Carolina…dont underestimate our QBs arm and teach your DBs how to cover that play. Raiders? Dont let our ‘fluke’ QB put us in FG position in seconds. Its a 60 minute game. We play all 60…we win. 8-0. Period!

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