The Dallas Cowboys fell to the Atlanta Falcons 19-13 in a game which can only be summarized by the following phrase: same old Cowboys.
All they needed was a defensive stop, to get the ball back for the offense which had driven 78 yards in 2:28 to cut the Falcons lead to 3. They had three chances to stop the Falcons and get the ball back with enough time to get a field goal. On all three times, either Orlando Scandrick was erring humanly or Falcons runningback Jacquizz Rodgers was converting to extend the Falcons drive and vaporize precious clock for Dallas.
The Cowboys got the ball back after a Matt Bryant field goal to put Atlanta up 19-13. But there was only 18 seconds left for Romo and the offense. That’s like presenting a landlord with rent due after being evicted.
Dallas falls to 3-5 on the season. While the Giants lost to Pittsburgh today, New York sits in first place at 6-3. The Redskins failed to defeat Carolina, and fall to 3-6. Philadelphia’s Week 9 fate will be decided tomorrow against New Orleans.
In order to beat an undefeated team of 7 or more wins, one must take command early. That’s what Dallas did on its first possession of the game, which was nicely set up with a 37-yard punt return from Dwayne Harris. However, the Atlanta defense held like the Rock of Gibraltar at their own 5 when a Romo pass to Cole Beasley fell incomplete. A 23-yard Dan Bailey field goal put the Cowboys up 3-0.
On the ensuing drive, Matt Ryan led the Falcons on a 61-yard drive to the Dallas 19 where Matt Bryant hooked a 37-yard field goal wide right. Things looked optimistic for Dallas especially after Romo led the Cowboys to the Atlanta 14 for another Dan Bailey chip shot field goal to put Dallas up 6-0.
That’s where the optimism ended.
The Falcons started off the 2nd quarter with a successful Matt Bryant field goal to put them down 6-3. Romo got lucky on the following possession as one of his passes to Witten was picked off, but thankfully there was a defensive foul. Then, Asante Samuel let an interception in the end zone slip through his fingers. The Cowboys drive stalled at the Atlanta 36, where Jason Garrett elected to kick a 54-yard field goal that went wide left.
DeMarcus Ware earned 1.5 sacks tonight. His full sack forced a fumble, but Josh Brent watched the ball, presuming it had some mucous on it, roll back to the line of scrimmage where Roddy White retained Falcon possession. Then, when the drive stalled at the Cowboys 36, Mike Smith taught Garrett a lesson and punted the football to the Dallas 3 rather than sending Matt Bryant out for a 54-yard field goal.
The Falcons got a field goal before halftime, and then the Cowboys opened up the 3rd quarter with four straight runs, one of which featured an 18-yarder where rookie Lance Dunbar bowled over Kevin Ogletree. The drive stalled as Romo overthrew Austin on a cornerback blitz and then threw it too short to Austin who wasn’t able to convert.
The Falcons missed another field goal, but they opened the 4th quarter with a bang as Michael Turner bounced and pounded his way for a 3-yard score to put the Falcons up 13-6. After Dallas went 3-and-out, the Falcons drove 62 yards on their next possession to put 3 more points on the scoreboard and make it a two-score game.
Romo took the challenge and led the Cowboys 78 yards in only 6 plays. He went 6/6 for the Cowboys’ entire yards, which culminated in a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree. Romo’s scrambling antics on that play were impressive and reminiscent of Captain Comeback.
But there would be no comeback, because Orlando Scandrick couldn’t wrap up Jacquizz Rodgers on 3rd and 6 on the next drive. Then, he held Roddy White on 3rd and 8 at the Dallas 43 to help Atlanta convert. Then, Jacquizz Rodgers converted a 3rd and 5 by psyching out Danny McCray worse than a Tim Hardaway crossover.
All the Cowboys needed was one stop. They had 5:21 on the clock. They had Atlanta backed up at their own 10 at one point. Yet, Matt Ryan led the Falcons 64 yards to kick a back-breaking 32-yard field goal.
The Cowboys’ final possession was once again high comedy for haters and melodrama for fans. On the Hail Mary attempt, when the Falcons rushed only three, Romo still had to scramble around to get a good pass attempt off, which went to Felix Jones in the deep flats. Jones took it to the Atlanta 21 where he was wrapped up by four Falcons defenders. There was no one to whom Jones could lateral the ball. The Stanford band could have stayed in the end zone with no worries.
These Millennial Cowboys are noted most for their accomplishments as individuals, since their accomplishments as a team are barely better than those of the Kansas City Chiefs. Jason Witten’s 7 receptions for 51 yards put him past Michael Irvin’s 750 catches to take command of Dallas’ all-time receptions at 754.
Where the 2012 Cowboys go from here is a hard road. They travel to Philadelphia next week, and Andy Reid, even in his most despondent states, always has his Eagles ready to thump Dallas. After that, the Cowboys host the Browns. If the Cowboys win their next two games, they’ll be .500 before a Thanksgiving showdown with the Redskins.