Falcons take control as Adrian Clayborn has five sacks


It appears the Cowboys are missing too many of their best players to score enough points to overtake the Falcons, who have a commanding 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Dallas began the day without kicker Dan Bailey, left tackle Tyron Smith and running back Ezekiel Elliott. They lost weakside linebacker Sean Lee in the first half, and safety Jeff Heath left late in the third quarter to be tested for a concussion.

Adrian Clayborn has embarrassed Chaz Green, who is playing in place of Smith. Clayborn made his fourth sack on the Cowboys’ only third-quarter possession and his fifth on the Cowboys’ only possession of the fourth quarter so far. It’s the most sacks in a single game in the NFL this season. Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell had four against the Texans in the season opener.

Smith allowed only two sacks in 13 games last season, according to STATS, Inc.

The Falcons have started to move the ball without Lee on the field, with Matt Ryan finding Justin Hardy for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 8:26 left in the third quarter and connecting with Austin Hooper for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 13:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys’ only third quarter possession resulted in a missed 38-yard field goal by Mike Nugent, who kicked it off the right upright. Bailey, the NFL’s all-time most accurate kicker, is missing his third game in a row with a hamstring injury.