Report card: Falcons’ grades for win over Cowboys





Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 19-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

A — Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan passed for 342 yards and had a passer rating of 102.8. It marked the sixth time this season that he’s had a rating over 100. The Falcons are now 29-0 when he has a passer rating of 100 or more. Ryan also improved to 30-4 at home as a starter which is the best home record by a starting quarterback since 1970 (minimum 20 starts). Over the last five seasons, Ryan’s .882 winning percentage is the second-best in the NFL behind New England quarterback Tom Brady (.929). With his 342-yard performance, Ryan broke Steve Bartkowski’s franchise record for career 300-yard games, surpassing the milestone for the 13th time in his career.

B- plus — Running backs: Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers kept plugging away until they came up with some big plays in the second half. Turner, who finished with 102 yards on 20 carries, had the big 43-yard run and the 3-yard touchdown run to help the Falcons take control. On the Falcons’ final drive, Rodgers made two big catches to help convert third downs. He finished with four catches for 53 yards. He had 31-yard reception on third-and-6 from the Falcon’s 24 to kick start the key drive. Overall, the Falcons rushed for 123 yards on 26 carries for a 4.7 average per carry.

A — Receivers: Roddy White became the team’s all-team receptions leader. He finished with seven catches for 118 yards. Julio Jones was spectacular. He had five catches for a season-high129 yards. Tony Gonzalez made two big grabs on the key drive right before the half that helped the Falcons tie the game 6-6. With a 26-yard catch on Atlanta’s first possession of the second half, White broke wide receiver Terance Mathis’ franchise record for career receptions with his 574th career catch. Gonzalez finished the game with four catches for 36 yards. He joined Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history to record 50-or-more receptions for 15 straight seasons.

B-minus — Offensive line: Ryan was under duress by Dallas’ athletic defensive front. He took the blame for sliding his protection the wrong way on the big hit he took from Dallas outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Ryan was sacked three times and hit six times. The line continued to bang away in the run game and finally were able to pop some big runs. Rookie Peter Konz made his second NFL start at right guard for Garrett Reynolds (balky back injury) and held his own.

A — Defensive line: The Falcons used their “Big Tackle Three” alignment again and Jonathan Babineaux is starting to look real comfortable at defensive end. He led the Falcons with seven tackles, had a sack, a quarterback hit and tipped pass. Peria Jerry left the game and Vance Walker and Corey Peters had to close it out at tackle. The defense held the Cowboys to 65 yards on 18 carries. It marked the second straight game that they’ve held the opponent under 100 yards.

B — Linebackers: The Falcons opened in their base defense with Mike Peterson filling in for the injured Sean Weatherspoon (ankle). Akeem Dent took over Weatherspoon’s snaps in the nickel package. Dent tied Babineaux for the team lead with seven tackles and Nicholas was strong in the passing game against Dallas tight end Jason Witten. Peterson had a touchdown-saving tackle on Dallas punt returner Dwayne Harris in the first quarter.

C — Defensive backs: Asante Samuel lost Kevin Oglethorpe on a 20-yard touchdown when Dallas quarterback Tony Romo made a nice throw while scrambling. Dunta Robinson had a rough start. He gave up a deep ball on a third-and-20, but he bounced back and continued to play. Robert McClain and Christopher Owens were solid. Owens got some action while Samuel was getting treated for a neck injury on the sideline. He returned to the game.

D — Special teams: Matt Bryant missed two field goals of 37 and 43 yards. Both were wide right. The punt coverage unit allowed a 37-yard return.

A — Coaching: Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan dialed up some pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo late in the second half and during the third quarter. The Falcons were able to force four straight punts and that allowed the offense a chance to forge a 10-point lead. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has to get credit for sticking with the run.

NEXT UP: The Falcons (8-0) face the New Orleans Saints (2-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

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78 comments Add your comment

Sam

November 5th, 2012
12:01 pm

Good job Falcons!

1stn10

November 5th, 2012
12:10 pm

This team is for real…could careless what anyone else thinks. If the proof before your very eyes is not enough then that’s your problem.

YEA...!!!

November 5th, 2012
12:10 pm

Second. Proud of the Falcons. Americas REAL Team….!!

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
12:11 pm

Matt Ryan is one tough dude. That was a massive hit, many QB’s would not have gotten up.

Falcon James

November 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

Grades are on the money. Bryant had a bad night, but he has been there in the clutch all season. Dunta went back to being Dunta. Thought we were passed that. Overall, it was a great game, and great teams win games like this.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
12:19 pm

Where r you ……………..??

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.

Robert Lowe

November 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

Don’t forget the A for the win and A+ for the 8 and 0 record.

North FLA Falcon

November 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

Does anyone else think we should have gone for it, on 4th down late in the 4th quarter? If we make it we run out the clock and win the game. If we don’t, we give the ball back to Romo with ~30 seconds left, up by 3, on their own 20-ish yard line. Instead, we kicked the FG and risked a kick return (actually a touchback), and finished the game. Just curious about how the Monday Morning QBs felt about that call.

Joshua

November 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

Does anyone else think we should have gone for it, on 4th down late in the 4th quarter? If we make it we run out the clock and win the game. If we don’t, we give the ball back to Romo with ~30 seconds left, up by 3, on their own 20-ish yard line. Instead, we kicked the FG and risked a kick return (actually a touchback), and finished the game. Just curious about how the Monday Morning QBs felt about that call.

———

Absolutely not. 17 seconds to drive 80 yards for a TD is virtually impossible. 15 seconds to drive 40 yards for a tying FG is much more doable.

Joshua

November 5th, 2012
12:37 pm

How about that “umbrella” formation at the end of the game? I like that.

BET

November 5th, 2012
12:42 pm

Falcons rule…better than any team right now…only team that worries me is the Giants…that defensive front is fierce and they never quit coming.

great job this week!!!

North FLA Falcon

November 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

Joshua — just to play Devils Advocate here. Fortunately, Bosher kicked it out of the end zone. But what if he had not? We had already given up a big kick return earlier. Any kickoff involves risk. They would have had to drive about 50 yards for a fairly certain FG and that was just to tie it. Again, with no time outs.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
12:51 pm

“Nicholas was strong in the passing game against Dallas tight end Jason Witten.”

Witten had 7 receptions for 51 yards. In the loss to the Giants he had 18 receptions for 167 yards. The Falcons neutralized this threat!!

Wes

November 5th, 2012
1:00 pm

Field goal was the right call. Forcing Dallas to need a TD is easier to defend. If a field goal could win it you can’t afford a coverage that hemorrhages yards.
I thought the umbrella formation with Julio out there was brilliant. However, if they could win the game with a kick I’m not sure we could have used that formation.

SawThat1nce

November 5th, 2012
1:04 pm

“What if”, the sky was to fall into the earth?
Aparently, being as they won the game, the right call was made by the Falcons HC.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
1:21 pm

There are so many Kudos to spread around. It was a TEAM effort!!
Congratulations Roddy!! “RODDY WHITE SETS FRANCHISE RECEPTION RECORD”
______________________________________________
Falcon James
November 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

Grades are on the money.

************************************
I agree. However, Lousaka Polite seemed to tick Matt Ryan off with that first dropped pass of the game. Got under my skin too. Next time Lousaka, you got to catch that pass. That fast start is so important. I hated the opening series:
1-10-ATL 21
(14:54) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short left to 45-L.Polite.
2-10-ATL 21
(14:50) 33-M.Turner left guard to ATL 22 for 1 yard.
3-9-ATL 22
(14:11) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short right to 83-H.Douglas.
4-9-ATL 22
(14:07) 5-M.Bosher punts 47 yards to DAL 31, Center-47-J.Harris. 17-D.Harris to ATL 32 for 37 yards (53-M.Peterson).
And of course Dallas went on to score a Field Goal. That’s the thing about this team. That momentum shift didn’t phase ‘em.

2 penalties for 15 yards……Falcons still lead the NFL in that category. Dallas is almost last.

Falcon James

November 5th, 2012
1:28 pm

Did anybody see Polite in the game at all after he drop that first pass?

D man

November 5th, 2012
2:20 pm

I agree with most of the grades. One exception, I would give the Offensive line a “D” because the Cowboys were in Ryan’s face all night long.

GregKennesaw

November 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

8-0 is a good antidote for the trolls!

Go Eagles!, never thought I would say that.

BK

November 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

GO FALCONS WAY TO GO JUST WIN BABY WIN……LETS CRUSH THOSE AINTS ….

DR. FALCON

November 5th, 2012
2:32 pm

LEDBETTER, YOU WERE A LITTLE HARD ON MATT BRYANT! YEAH, HE MISSED 2 FG’S, BUT, HE HAS BEEN A STALWART ALL YEAR! HE CAME THRU WITH 2 CRITICAL FG’S AT THE END! BOSHER, DID A GREAT JOB KICKING THE BALL IN THE ENDZONE! LIGHTEN UP! BRANT HAS MISSED ONLY 3, OR 4, FG’S ALL YEAR!

DR. FALCON

November 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

MATT RYAN, IS A MACHINE! HE PROVED THAT HE CAN TAKE A BEATING, AND GET UP TO LEAD LATE SCORING DRIVES! IT’S ESAY TO BEAT UP THE OFFENSIVE LINE, BUT, THEY GAVE RYAN ENOUGH TIME TO COMPLETE SOME BIG TIME 3RD DOWN PASSES! HALL OF FAMERS, THEY’RE NOT, BUT THE O-LINE IS BETTER THAN AVERAGE!

ernisTbass

November 5th, 2012
2:38 pm

Samuel did lose Ogelthorpe but the one he almost picked in the end zone saved the game, that one had TD written all over it and would have turned the game around at that point, hard to grade him without considering that play

DR. FALCON

November 5th, 2012
2:43 pm

THE JULIO JONES, VS A.J. GREEN DEBATE IS FUN TO WATCH! AND WILL BE FOR YEARS TO COME! WE GOT THE RIGHT GUY, BECAUSE JULIO HAS BLOWN BY DB’S, THE PAST 2 WEEKS WHEN HE TURNED ON THE “JETS”, ON “GO” PATTERNS! TOO BAD, JULIO’S OLD COLLEGE TEAM WILL LOSE TO UGA, IN THE S.E.C. TITLE GAME IN EARLY DECEMBER! SORRY JULIO! GO “DAWGS”!

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
2:58 pm

North FLA Falcon
November 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

Does anyone else think we should have gone for it, on 4th down late in the 4th quarter?
******************************************************
It’s 4th and 2 with 22 seconds left in the game and you are ahead by 3 points. You kick the FG. Even playing Devil’s Advocate if you don’t make the FG and Dallas takes over and goes down and scores a FG we are in overtime. With the 3 points Dallas HAS to put it in the End Zone to win and cannot tie.

Of the returned kickoffs Dunbar brought one out to the 20, one out to the 14, and another that was 39 yards but was called back on a penalty giving them starting position at the Dallas 22. So as far as a Special Teams let down putting Dallas back in it they were solid.

I wasn’t so sure Dallas wasn’t going to try an onsides kick after their touchdown with 5:21 left to play. The Falcons had 5 men up front and some were running backwards into coverage before the ball was ever kicked. If a kicker was ever able to audible they could have drag kicked and probably very easily recovered the football around the 50 yard line.

BUT HERE IS THE PLAY OF THE GAME:
4th Quarter 2nd and 5 on the Dallas 33 – 3:23 to go. Ryan throws an incomplete pass to Roddy White down the left side. Dal #24 Claiborne is gonna intercept this pass if not for Roddy has a hold of his arm, forcing him to try and catch the ball with the other arm. Roddy had to turn defender or I believe Claiborne would have intercepted that pass and Dallas would have had the ball on their own 33 yard line with plenty of time to score. Even if Roddy had of been flagged it was a heads up play. You wanna play Devil’s Advocate conjure up how it would have went down with a Dallas interception here. THANK YOU RODDY!!!

Mike Franklin

November 5th, 2012
3:02 pm

Yeah, I think I would have tweaked the O-line a little harder and gave Matt Bryant a break.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
3:02 pm

Falcon James
November 5th, 2012
1:28 pm

Did anybody see Polite in the game at all after he drop that first pass?
********************************************
Don’t quote me but I think so, strictly as lead blocker and heavy pass protection. I’ll watch for it when I replay the game.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
3:11 pm

“Roddy had to turn defender or I believe Claiborne would have intercepted that pass and Dallas would have had the ball on their own 33 yard line with plenty of time to score.”

Correction: Dallas could have had the ball on the Dallas15 yard line.

motor mouth

November 5th, 2012
3:11 pm

Can we give NBC’s Chris Collinsworth a big fat F
for his awful commentary?

GO Falcons..!!!

November 5th, 2012
3:21 pm

Colllinsworth may have been drinking all day……goofball.

Esquire

November 5th, 2012
3:36 pm

Falcon James
November 5th, 2012
1:28 pm

Did anybody see Polite in the game at all after he drop that first pass?
******************************************

I trust you saw DLed post about playing time. He had Polite graded out on offense for 20 plays and 2 plays on special teams.

TheAintsDefenseSuk

November 5th, 2012
3:44 pm

This was a dress rehearsal for the playoffs. Forget Dallas’s record. They had better than average talent on both sides of the ball. They were highly motivated because they were desperate. The Falcons matched their talent and desperation with cool efficient play.

GO FALCONS!!!

TheAintsDefenseSuk

November 5th, 2012
3:45 pm

Now it’s time for some payback. Bring on the Aints….been waiting all year for this game!!!

The Real Falcon

November 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

Great time at the game. Even better to see those cowpoke fans leave unhappy.
But the way Ryan did not toss a TD breaking his streak.

Falcon James

November 5th, 2012
3:51 pm

Esquire

Saw DLED post on playing time. I just don’t remember seeing him after he dropped that pass. I wonder if Ryan will see him open again the rest of the season.

TheAintsDefenseSuk

November 5th, 2012
3:52 pm

The Real Falcon

November 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

Great time at the game. Even better to see those cowpoke fans leave unhappy.
But the way Ryan did not toss a TD breaking his streak.

__________________________________

I hope you took the time to talk some smack as they left the building…..Because those losers were talking all kinds of smack before the game.

Joe

November 5th, 2012
4:07 pm

D-Led I agree with your grades, however I think you are a little tough on Matt. All is good, he settled down.

DC Dirty Bird

November 5th, 2012
4:21 pm

How good would this offense be with a Pro Bowl Caliber offensive lineman?

zorro

November 5th, 2012
4:37 pm

I just want add to this decision this fact, and that is matter can not be created or destroy only moved around. So let just support the direction that this team is going in. Rise up A-town nothing but.

Energy

RTR22

November 5th, 2012
4:44 pm

Dr Falcon, Jawja is not going to beat the CT……….throw the ball to Julio and throw it some more.

Roll Tide

LET-THE-NERDS-H8

November 5th, 2012
4:56 pm

the only thing i be concerend about is the lack of pressure the d-line makes… honestly at best we are “bottom of the pack” we have J-Babs and Abe after them who do we really have… zilch nada nothing… Biermann ok at best Edwards (i think Napolean Dynamite can create more pressure than him) Peters is just now coming back so he gets a pass.. we desperatley need help at the d-line cause even when we blitz we dont put pressure…. other than that we are a great team

Mike

November 5th, 2012
5:00 pm

Dallas Defense ranked #4. Falcons Defense ranked #20. I believe they held their own on offense tonight and a great dress rehearsal for the playoffs. They need more TD’s. As for Matt Bryant, did anyone hear that he had back problems. I think he deserves a pass on this game. Americas Team = Atlanta Falcons.

Th

November 5th, 2012
5:27 pm

The 3 defensive tackle set worked until it didn’t. The Cowboys went to the hurry-up with the 3 tackles out there and threw every down. It was their only decent drive of the day and showed every future opponent how to beat us. Nolan may need a designated flopper to fake injury so he can sub if he wants to keep using it.

Did I remember wrong or did Matt Ryan have a long consecutive game TD pass streak broken?

kevkat

November 5th, 2012
6:04 pm

The offensive line grade was a little generous…

goFalcons

November 5th, 2012
6:06 pm

Another great game by the Falcons. They are starting to spoil us with their greatness

Samuel

November 5th, 2012
6:06 pm

I think this team is on to something, if they keep slowing the run down consistently and have some success running the ball frequently the sky is the limit. Did Ray Edwards make any plays out there?

okeetee

November 5th, 2012
6:21 pm

“Ryan took the blame for sliding his protection the wrong way on the big hit he took from Dallas outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.”

That may be all well and good…..but the offensive lineman next to Ware should have known something was wrong when NOBODY was lined up in front of Ware and either called a time out, gone off sides, DO something to prevent that blindside hit on Ryan! Our whole season rests in the he hands of keeping Ryan healthy and we just cannot afford a dummy up of that magnitude on the offensive line again! I know offensive lineman are not the sharpest tools in the shed, but that just cannot happen again, unless we want to see Ryan spend the rest of this season in traction!

coleski

November 5th, 2012
6:24 pm

The way Collinsworth pulled for the Cowboys, he should have been on the sideline dressed in a
Cowboys cheerleader outfit.
What about ESPNs NFL Live program, I have never heard such whinning because Dallas beat themselves. Evidently the Falcons had no hand in the Cowboys losing the game. So the Falcons scored 19 and the Boys scored 13 and the “boys” were supposed to win.. C’mon ESPN and NBC
let’s be fair about this.

Getaway

November 5th, 2012
7:45 pm

For the poser asking about going for it 4th and short instead of kicking the FG:
Smitty must’ve known I had money on the Falcons covering…kidding.
But the way Collingsworth was acting, he must’ve had money it. I halfway expected hime to say “we need to jump routes” and “our defense needs to tackle better” or I read this into a lot of what he was saying: “the refs shouldn’t be so hard on us”

Getaway

November 5th, 2012
7:48 pm

meant “poster” not poser, sorry North FLA Falcon