Adrian Clayborn! Adrian Clayborn! Adrian Clayborn! Adrian Clayborn! Adrian Clayborn! Adrian Clayborn!
The Cowboys are going to have nightmares about the Falcons defensive end as he made six sacks of quarterback Dak Prescott.
Dallas gained only 233 total yards, including only 107 rushing yards. Clayborn won NFC defensive player of the week honors — just give it to him now — with a single-game team sack record, six tackles, seven quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a recovered fumble.
The Cowboys started Chaz Green, a former third-round pick, at left tackle before replacing him with Byron Bell. Green allowed five sacks to Clayborn, Bell allowed two more sacks, including one to Clayborn. Smith, who sat out with a groin injury, can’t get back soon enough with the Cowboys (5-4) facing the Eagles next Sunday night in something of a must-win.
Clayborn’s six sacks were the most the Cowboys ever have allowed. Chargers pass-rusher Leslie O’Neal made five sacks against them Nov. 16, 1986.
Only Derrick Thomas had more in a single game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, as the Chiefs’ Hall of Famer made seven against Seattle in 1990.
Clayborn entered with two sacks in eight games this season, and in his seven seasons, he has made six or more sacks in a SEASON once. He had 7.5 sacks as a rookie.
Matt Ryan and Tevin Coleman got the Falcons offense going in the second half. Atlanta scored its initial third-quarter offensive touchdown of the season when Justin Hardy caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Ryan. Ryan finished 22-of-29 for 215 yards with two touchdowns and an interception; Coleman rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries with Devonta Freeman leaving early in the game with a concussion.
The Falcons (5-4) had to have the victory, which was only their second in the past six, as the Saints continue to win.
As for the Cowboys, the “next-man-up” idea didn’t work so well Sunday: Green and Bell received failing grades for their effort; three running backs combined for 65 yards on 15 carries; the Cowboys couldn’t get the Falcons off the field without Sean Lee; and Mike Nugent missed a 38-yard field goal.