By: David Schiele
Groans of “here we go again” filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium as quarterback Dak Prescott flipped into the end zone for a touchdown.
See, five plays earlier, running back Devonta Freeman suffered a concussion and was forced to leave the game. Then, a Matt Ryan pass was deflected and intercepted by cornerback Xavier Woods, setting the Cowboys up at the Falcons’ 21-yard-line. Prescott’s touchdown run gave Dallas an early 7-0 lead and Falcons fans little hope for a win.
However, this is when the Falcons turned into the team they told us they could be. Scoring 27 unanswered points, Atlanta dominated the Ezekiel Elliot-less Dallas Cowboys.
The Falcons sacked Prescott eight times. Six of them came from defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a franchise record.
“[He] provided a lot of momentum,” said Matt Ryan. “I’m so proud and happy for him.”
Clayborn downplayed his performance by giving credit to the entire defensive line, but he predicted his record-breaking performance.
“I went up to him and said ‘anybody can do it five times, ’ and he was like ‘I can get you the sixth one.’ And he ended up going and getting it,” said safety Ricardo Allen.
The Atlanta defense held Prescott to just 176 passing yards. Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant locked down Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant, only allowing four catches for 39 yards. In total, Dallas mustered just 7 points.
“We still that same team from last year,” said Ricardo Allen.
Now, that statement is debatable. Many will argue that the Falcons are nowhere near the team that blazed through the NFC and appeared in Super Bowl LI. However, they sure looked like it in week 10.
Matt Ryan connected with seven different receivers for 215 yards and two touchdowns, running back Tevin Coleman rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, and kicker Matt Bryant added two field goals.
“I thought we executed better than we have all year,” said Ryan. “We were kind of inconsistent…. It was a good step in the right direction for us if we’re going to become the kind of football team that we want to be moving forward.”
The Falcons converted over half of their third downs and averaged over five yards per play.
“Everyone keeps saying we installed a new offensive or something….I know it sounds boring, but that’s the truth of it,” said tight end, Austin Hooper. “It feels good when we do what we’re supposed to do.”
If that’s so, then the Falcons will need to really execute next Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks, who allow just 18 points per game.