The numbers suggested the Falcons’ offense dominated.
Quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 342 yards, wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones each topped 100 yards receiving and Michael Turner churned out 100-plus yards rushing. Atlanta totaled 453 yards and had no turnovers.
And yet the Falcons scored just one touchdown Sunday night against the Cowboys. It was an important score, though, and Atlanta’s offense made enough other key plays to defeat the Cowboys 19-13 at the Georgia Dome.
“It’s ‘football tough’” Turner said. “It’s going to be like that sometimes. We have just got to figure out ways to get better and finish and score touchdowns.”
Turner’s three-yard touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter staked the Falcons to a 13-6 lead. He set up the score with a 43-yard burst that gave Atlanta a first down at the Dallas 14.
Up to that point Turner had just 24 yards on 11 carries. Coach Mike Smith told Turner to stay patient because he’d been close to breaking some big runs in the first half.
“We was moving the ball well but we wasn’t getting any points out of it,” Turner said. “We missed a couple field goals. We just missed a couple opportunities to score. We finally punched it in and I think that got the whole team going a little bit.”
The Falcons would get into the red zone two more times and have to settle for Bryant field goals each time. But Atlanta’s final drive was crucial because it used 5:04 of the clock and forced Dallas to use all three of its timeouts.
Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers converted two third downs on that drive with nifty plays.
With about four minutes to play and Atlanta needing six yards for a first down, Rodgers leaked out of the backfield and took a short pass from Ryan.
“I had blitz responsibility but nobody came,” Rodgers said, “so I was wide open.”
Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick had a chance to tackle Rodgers soon after he caught the pass but Rodgers sidestepped him with a quick move to make it to the open field.
“That was second nature,” Rodgers said. “It was just instinct.”
Rodgers’ catch went for 31 yards and now Atlanta was near field-goal range and Dallas had to call its first timeout. The Cowboys were forced to use their final timeout when Rodgers again faked out a defender for an 11-yard reception on third-and-five.
That led to Matt Bryant’s fourth field goal, which was enough to seal the victory.
“We had some [missed] opportunities and we need to clean some things up and try to improve in some areas but at the end of the day it’s about finding ways to win,” Ryan said.