GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Dallas (3-4) vs. Atlanta (7-0) at 8:20 p.m. Sunday




Q&A corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Cowboys

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is not relishing the long wait in the hotel room before facing the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome, but he

tlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan leaves the field after leading his team to a 30-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

tlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan leaves the field after leading his team to a 30-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

plans to be ready with the bright lights come on.

“Night games are fun,” Ryan said. “They really are. Especially, in the Dome. Our fans are crazy when we have night games. It’s a great environment to play in.”

This will be the Falcons’ second appearance in a nationally televised night game this season. They defeated the Denver Broncos 27-21 on “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 17.

Here’s a brief Q&A involving Ryan and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Q: What have you seen of Dallas’ defense on film?

A: It’s still a really, really good defense. They have one of the best pass rushers in the game in (outside linebacker) DeMarcus Ware. They’ve got two really good corners and very good safeties, too. It’s one of the best defenses that you see.”

Q: How does defensive tackle Jay Ratliff look?

A: Last week against the Giants he played extremely well. He looked healthy and was flying around.

Q: What do you think of rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne?

A: When you turn on the tape he’s one of those guys playing with a lot of confidence. They put their guys in position to play a lot of man coverage. He’s a very quick, very good corner, very good ball skills, and has another really good corner (in Brandon Carr) on the other side, too.

On their plane ride back from Philadelphia on Sunday night, the Falcons watched the Dallas Cowboys’ game against the New York Giants.

The X-Factor:  Who’s going to cover Jason Witten?

They watched the Cowboys’ rally fall short.

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

But as tight end Jason Witten’s catches continued to mount, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon looked over at strongside Stephen Nicholas, who will have the primary responsibility for Witten in most passing situations, and they started to shake their heads.

“He was on fire last week,” Nicholas said. “We just want to maintain and keep doing the things that we need to do.”

When Witten, the seven-time Pro Bowler, was finished, he had caught 18 passes for 167 yards. As the focal point of the Cowboys offense, he’ll be the X-factor in Sunday’s game.

Witten ranks second on the Cowboy’s all-time receptions and receiving-yards charts.

“I have all of the respect for him,” Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “He plays the position the way it’s supposed to be played. He’s definitely, without a doubt, a dual tight end.

“That means he blocks and catches and obviously where the state of the tight end is at in the NFL right now. I mean a lot of these guys are just catching passes, so I love seeing a guy like him blocking and catching the ball and doing both things very, very well.”

Witten has 747 career receptions for 8,396 yards and is on pace to take the top spot on the receptions chart from Michael Irvin.

With wide receiver Dez Bryant developing slowly, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is not shy about getting the ball to Witten. He accounts for 456 catches and 5,263 yards of Romo’s 1,858 completions and 22,907 yards.

His 18 catches, which helped to lead a frenetic rally against the Giants, are tied for third-most in NFL history, the most by a tight end.

“He has a great feel for playing the position,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

On the hot seat: Dallas head coach Jason Garrett

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took accountability for the 31-29 loss to the Ravens. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took accountability for the 31-29 loss to the Ravens. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has not made a smooth transition to head coach.

His in-game decisions, which have included clock mismanagement earlier this season against Baltimore and some shaky play-calling last week against the Giants, has been questionable. That’s why he’s on the hot seat for Sunday’s game against the undefeated Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Against Baltimore, a 31-29 loss, the Cowboys wasted 16 seconds in the final minute before calling a timeout. They ended up losing after missing a 51-yard field-goal attempt with two seconds left. The 16 seconds could have been used to work toward a shorter attempt.

Garrett’s play-calling down the stretch last week was heavily scrutinized. With the Cowboys on the Giants’ 19 and needing a yard for a first down, he threw three passes and turned the ball over on downs.

“You try to make sure the thought process and the preparation was right,” Garrett said. “Ultimately, you can’t control the outcome of an individual play and situation, but you want to make sure you’ve gone through the right way to prepare your team. If you do find out you didn’t handle it the right way, you better handle it the right way the next time.”

Garrett, a former backup quarterback with the Cowboys, has an 11-12 record, and some critics are starting to conclude that he might be in over his head.

Connections: Smith, Ryan go back to their Ohio Valley days

Sunday will be an Ohio Valley Conference reunion for Falcons coach Mike Smith and Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Rob Ryan (Associated Press)

Rob Ryan (Associated Press)

Smith (Tennessee Tech) and Ryan (Tennessee State) coached against each other from 1989-93.

“There were some battles,” Smith said. “Rob’s a darn good football coach. He’s got a great defensive mind.”

There is a mutual respect between the coaches.

“Rob’s done an outstanding job with the defense there in Dallas,” Smith said. “Statistically, year in and year out, they’re going to be at the top of the league.”

Other connections include:

  • Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong coached with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at Miami from 2005-06.
  • Cowboys special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis held the same position with the Falcons from 1997-2006.
  • Cowboys wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson coached the Falcons’ wide receivers from 1990-93 and played at Georgia Tech and for the Falcons.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson played quarterback for the Falcons during the 1992 season.
  • Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Cowboys linebacker Alex Albright were teammates at Boston College.
  • Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers and Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler were teammates at Oregon State.
  • Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards and Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton, and linebacker Anthony Spencer all played together at Purdue.
  • Falcons running back Michael Turner and Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free played together at Northern Illinois.

The point about whether Matt Ryan will become an elite quarterback is becoming moot with his spectacular play this season.

Stat corner: Ryan’s passing numbers are up

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Ryan’s passer rating of 103.0 ranks third in the NFL behind Denver quarterback Peyton Manning’s 109.0 and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers’ 107.9.

Against Kansas City, the Falcons scored on their first eight possessions. Against Philadelphia, the Falcons scored on their first six possessions.

They have scored a touchdown on the opening drives of four games, including a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive last week against the Eagles that wiped nearly nine minutes off the clock.

Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown in 22 consecutive games, which is the third-longest active streak in the NFL behind New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (49) and New England quarterback Tom Brady (40).

Part of Ryan’s progression can be attributed to the Falcons incorporating the deep pass into their attack more this season.

With the threat of the deep ball, teams will pay for crowding the line of scrimmage. Ryan’s pass to wide receiver Julio Jones for a 63-yard touchdown against the Eagles was his longest scoring pass this season.

Ryan is coming off one his better games as a pro, as he completed 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards (75.9 percent) with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 137.4, the third-highest of his career.

The Falcons are 28-0 when Ryan’s quarterback rating is above 100, including five wins this season.

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75 comments Add your comment

SawThat1nce

November 2nd, 2012
3:15 pm

SawThat1nce

November 2nd, 2012
3:23 pm

I don’t see how Romo has lasted as long as he has, as the #1 QB with the cowboys.
Also, Dez Bryant is a walking disaster for the boys.
Jason Garrett had better smarten-up real quick, if he’s going to keep his job.
Of course, these are just my opinions.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

ATLSWAG

November 2nd, 2012
4:01 pm

8-0???? HYFR!!! (HELL YEA FU**ING RIGHT)

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

TheAintsDefenseSuk

November 2nd, 2012
4:11 pm

Third!!! …………Like the Aints

shhh_peaceful

November 2nd, 2012
4:29 pm

you can smell the blood in the water. 8-0 on prime time.

lowdownjj

November 2nd, 2012
4:44 pm

Cam Newton would do well to take a page outta Matt Ryan’s coach speak book when dealing with the media. With that said, Ryan is so impressed with Dallas’s corners he didn’t seem to know their names

lowdownjj

November 2nd, 2012
4:48 pm

Oh yea, and the Eagles get right this week

DieHardFalconsFan!!!!

November 2nd, 2012
5:14 pm

Dallas is screwed!!!! We r gonna put an ass whooping on them! GO FALCONS!!!! RISE UP!!!!

Eric C.

November 2nd, 2012
9:01 pm

Wow, this is just an incredible stat: “The Falcons are 28-0 when Ryan’s quarterback rating is above 100, including five wins this season.”

Ed

November 2nd, 2012
9:21 pm

The Falcons should go into this game and come out the same way they did last week in Philly and punch them right in the mouth. I think the key is Matty getting in the no huddle and getting the ball to Julio and Roddy in tighter coverage against a much more aggressive Cowboys secondary.

Dallas Cowboys

November 2nd, 2012
9:57 pm

We are going to expose you overrated hypes in front of the world!

Yet Another Opponent With A Losing Record

November 2nd, 2012
9:59 pm

Don’t believe the hype.

LOL at the Aints

November 2nd, 2012
10:46 pm

@Dallas CowGirls,, STB4 or JSS,,, is that you? LOL! Cowgirls are in for a shock.,, LOL

Angelo

November 2nd, 2012
10:57 pm

Rob Ryan said Cowboys will beat undefeated Atlanta Falcons.

Jr

November 2nd, 2012
11:46 pm

Here we come 8-0!!! but this will be a game hard fought game until we(the falcons) pull away from the cowboys in the fourth quarter. 17-34 falcons (at home… keyword)
P.S. We all might witness romo’s last game as a cowboy after he throws us 2 picks nd dallas’s offense suffers a fumble lost from the predator Lls. Go falcs Rise Up

Samuel

November 3rd, 2012
6:45 am

In other words, all Ryan has to do is play on a high level and the Falcons win this game.

SeenThisBFalcon

November 3rd, 2012
7:42 am

Cowboys fans are so delusional…Dez Bryant is questionable and even if he does play he won’t be a factor Demarco Murray is out and Feli Jones also isn’t 100%…all you have lef is Jason Witten thats only a chain mover isn’t going to beat anyone deep..soory but they will have a hard time getting in the end zone….FALCONS MUCH MORE DISCIPLINED..HEALTHIER FALCONS WIN EASY 27-13…COWBOYS WON’T BE ABLE TO GET IN THE END ZONE!!!

CoachinEm

November 3rd, 2012
10:41 am

Cudos to atlanta for a nice 7-0 start. its nice to see they know how to beat a group off all but one sub .500 teams. The broncos 4-3 are the only exception. That was Peytons second game as a bronco,we remember how that was. He has improved greatly since. This week nine game against the cowboys is going to be more of a test than their 3-4 record presents. The cowboys rank 3rd in total yds allowed and 5th in passing yards produced. Atlanta narrowly escaped carolina(by 2), washington by a (td), and the raiders (by 3).They really put it together against the low flying eagles 3-4 with a dominating performance 30-17. But I repeat the low flying eagles. The cowboys outscoed the sb defending giants 24-6 after trailing 23-0. The cowboys have fire power and defense. As long as the turnovers are not excessive, the falcons may record their fist L of the seasion in what seems to be an over looked game bt most atl fans.

Michael M .

November 3rd, 2012
1:27 pm

Falcons – 44 Cowgirls – 12…………………..enough said………………………………………………………………………………..

SeenThisBFalcon

November 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

CoachimEm..um no…they cowboys offense is depleted and HOMO is not that elite of a quarterback to be worried about…shut down Witten GAME OVER!!!

SeenThisBFalcon

November 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

FALCONS 27-COWFAGS 13

single white dove

November 3rd, 2012
3:44 pm

CoachinEm

November 3rd, 2012
10:41 am

Einstien, if the Falcons lost to the rest of those teams, each of those teams would have winning records….

hbcuclassics

November 3rd, 2012
9:29 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
Week 10

Fort Valley State 38
Albany State 20

Morehouse 55
Kentucky State 7

Tuskegee 27
Miles 17

Lane 38
Benedict 21

http://www.hbcuclassics.com

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
8:13 am

Dallas Cowboys
November 2nd, 2012
9:57 pm

We are going to expose you overrated hypes in front of the world!
*****************************************
Over rated? We are 7-0, can’t help that since we have beaten every team we have played. But “hypes”? We don’t get hyped from anybody. Not ESPN, not the NFL, not the national media, hell, not even DLed.

So expose us if you can, but the Dallas dissociative identity disorder is deep and in full manic mode. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve against a solid defense. But it must be desperate times when Rob Ryan has to make predictions in the press rather than play the game on the field. Admittedly, I wish Spoon was on the field but this team has played together and I have no doubt that his teammates will step up.

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
8:24 am

hbcuclassics
November 3rd, 2012
9:29 pm

***************************************

Your not giving Bethune any love!!!

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
8:35 am

The Caints fans have to be really torn tonight………….they don’t want to root for Dallas, they don’t want to root for the Falcons!! What to do, what to do!! I’ll bet they are actually pulling for a Falcons win. They know the NFC South race for them is OVER and they hate Dallas just as much.

Falcon James

November 4th, 2012
9:50 am

Can’t wait for the game the game tonight. I am sure the Cowboy won’t just lay down and give us the win, but they are having a tough time this season.

G.D.Gaston

November 4th, 2012
9:55 am

Falcons overrated? Not at all! Tony homo and his fairy friends are taking an ass pounding tonight. But hey there used 2 it. Go falcons. And shout out 2 my bulldogs and all my Georgia boys

Falcon James

November 4th, 2012
10:06 am

What does Dallas and Broke Back Mountain have in common? They both have Cowboy that su*k

Playoff Wins

November 4th, 2012
10:43 am

I’m lonely. Matt why won’t you take me home?

Just Sayin'

November 4th, 2012
10:50 am

Against Dallas’ vaunted defense Seahawks “rookie” quarterback Russell Wilson went 15-20, 151 yards and ran a 90-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, the 22-yard touchdown pass to Anthony McCoy gave Seattle a 20-7 lead.

Just Sayin’

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
11:00 am

Falcon James
November 4th, 2012
10:06 am

What does Dallas and Broke Back Mountain have in common? They both have Cowboy that su*k

**********************************************
FJ, I recall once you commenting negatively when somebody used my handle in a sexually intimating post, Is this really you?

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2012
11:01 am

WHAT DO FALCONS DO…RISEEE UPPP!!!!!!! ON MY WAY FROM SAVANNAH TO THE GA DOME IN T-MINUS 2/12 HRS…….TAILGATE TIME!!!!!!

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2012
11:01 am

Still Gritz Blitz'n

November 4th, 2012
11:04 am

Dallas BBM-boys.

Still Gritz Blitz'n

November 4th, 2012
11:07 am

Looks like what few winning teams have beaten the sub-par teams w/ losing records. Just win Baby!, the notorious phrase of the late-Great Al Davis

Still Gritz Blitz'n

November 4th, 2012
11:10 am

Rob Ryan is the newest member of Dallas Desperate Housewives. Rex has to look away, sheesh! Those long gray locks a-flow’n.

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
11:11 am

Playoff Wins
November 4th, 2012
10:43 am

*************************************************

Try to make sense………….the Falcons have 6 playoff wins.

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Playoff Wins

November 4th, 2012
11:27 am

2004 is such a long time ago. I’m gathering dust.

New York Giants

November 4th, 2012
11:30 am

Have you scored on us yet?

" ICE "

November 4th, 2012
11:34 am

The JonesTown cowboys are coming to Atlanta
and will go home 3-5.

Falcon James

November 4th, 2012
11:58 am

@Esquire,

I don’t recall the post you are talking about, but this is really me.

Traymon Williams

November 4th, 2012
11:58 am

Hey Matt thanks for the pick 6 buddy.

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
12:03 pm

Re: the time change

Does anybody agree that the Cowboys will be impacted by the time change this morning.l They were in Central time yesterday, flying into Eastern time to Atlanta, then falling back an hour .

So, say they left at 11am CDT , flew to Atlanta arriving @ 2:00pm EDT, then gain an hour Sunday morning. In effect the 8:30 Sunday night game is 10:30 Dallas human time. Does this make sense?

Stupid and dunce hat replies welcome, just doin’ some Jethro Bodine “gozintos”

but Jethro, where it says sex: write ‘male’, not ‘oh, boy!’

Time Change

November 4th, 2012
12:09 pm

When you look at me for an edge – is that confidence in your team?

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
12:10 pm

Is the Caints suspended coach going to Dallas next year?

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
12:16 pm

Time Change
November 4th, 2012
12:09 pm

When you look at me for an edge – is that confidence in your team?

************************************************
An edge never entered my thoughts. This fits in the stupid and dunce hat reply category. The time change could effect the Falcons as well. This is the NFL, you give 110% whether you play in London or Timbuktu. But my question is “Can you play at your best when your body tells you it is 10:30pm?”

What is it that troll says …………….”Just Sayin”

Esquire

November 4th, 2012
12:22 pm

Sorry Caints fans, your 15 minutes of fame is up!!

http://tinyurl.com/agce8e3