Minus some early blunders, the Falcons looked as good as they have all season in a convincing victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Many will note (rightfully) that Dallas was missing key stars Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith, but this was still an impressive win, regardless. Here are some key takeaways from the 27-7 victory.
Offense looked great, but it was still one game
This was easily one of the best offensive performances for the Falcons offense in 2017. Matt Ryan was on-point, delivering accurate passes all over the field. The offense finally spread the ball around, making good use of guys like Austin Hooper, Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel. The offensive line was getting beat early, but settled down in the second half and turned in a very strong performance in both run blocking and pass blocking. Additionally, the play calling was much improved, with many of the 2016 elements re-appearing after an inexplicable absence over the last several games.
That said, it’s still one game. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian deserves credit, but this game alone won’t fix the season. This kind of effort and game calling needs to carry over week after week. It was a great win and a very good performance, but now we need to see it repeated before we can believe it is a permanent fix.
Defense was dominant, as they should have been
The Cowboys have a very good offense even without Ezekiel Elliott. That offensive line is one of the best in the league, though they were clearly missing All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. That said, repeatedly abusing their backup is what good teams do and the Falcons did just that. I don’t care who is in the game - giving up 6 sacks to one player is an incredible feat. While Adrian Clayborn’s dominant performance will get the most recognition, this was really a great overall performance by the entire defense. The entire unit tackled better on the day and the coverage in the secondary was mostly exemplary. The interior pressure was a very encouraging sign, considering the level of talent they were beating.
If this defense can build on this, they showed they have the talent to be a top unit. Now we just need to see it week after week.
Falcons control their own destiny - amazingly
The Falcons still have 5 remaining games to play in their own division, including one more against the Panthers and two more against the division leading Saints. Despite the record, the Falcons can still win the division without needing help from anyone else. It will definitely be very difficult to do so, but it’s good to know that this team is nowhere near out of the race at this point. Getting hot now could still salvage this season.
What are your takeaways from the convincing victory over the Cowboys?