The Falcons and Cowboys came into this game desperate to avoid an 0-2 start. Amazingly, in his 12 years in the league, Matt Ryan has yet to start any season 0-2 - which frankly, is a worrying statistic (all good things do come to an end after all). Did Ryan and the rest of the Falcons avoid an 0-2 start or will they dig a hole that will be increasingly hard to get out of? Let’s see how the game played out.
The Falcons win the toss and elect to receive. Starting on their own 25, Todd Gurley takes it for 3 yards on the right side. Another Gurley run up the middle sets up 3rd and 2, Matt Ryan targets Russell Gage, but he drops the easy first down. Atlanta is forced to punt.
From their 22, the Cowboys offense starts with a carry by Tony Pollard for 3 yards. On the next play, Pollard runs it and an initial fumble is called back by the review process. On 3rd and 4, Prescott is pressured immediately and the ball is ultimately batted away. Falcons force the punt.
From their 26, the Falcons start with a nice run by Todd Gurley to set up 2nd and 5. Ryan can’t connect with Hayden Hurst on 2nd down and on 3rd and 4 Ryan is nearly intercepted and Atlanta has to punt. Again.
After an Ezekiel Elliott carry for 3 yards, Dak Prescott targets Amari Cooper but isn’t close. On 3rd and 7, Deion Jones explodes through the line again and gets the sack fumble and an Atlanta recovery.
Starting on the Dallas 22, Matt Ryan immediately targets Calvin Ridley who takes it in for the quick score.
Falcons 7, Cowboys 0
A poor return sets the Cowboys up on their own 13 to start their drive. A quick pass to Fulton Schultz goes for a first down. Ezekiel Elliott carries it on the next play, but fumbles it and they somehow recover it? Takk is then called for roughing the passer on the next play. On the next play, Elliott carries it again and fumbles yet again with Atlanta actually recovering this time. Falcons ball.
Atlanta starts on their 48 with a run up the middle by Gurley for 3 yards. A screen to Hurst goes for 2 yards and on 3rd and 5, Matt Ryan scrambles for the first down! On the very next play, Matt Ryan finds Hayden Hurst wide open for the 42 yard touchdown and the two score lead.
Falcons 14, Cowboys 0
Starting on their own 13, after a kickoff penalty. A quick pass to Schultz gains a quick first down. Elliott is immediately brought down by Grady Jarrett in the backfield for a 4 yard loss. On 2nd and 14, Prescott connects with CeeDee Lamb to setup 3rd and short. John Cominsky blows up the offensive line and forces the incomplete pass. The Cowboys fake the punt but can’t complete the pass. Atlanta takes over in Dallas territory.
Starting on the Dallas 29, Brian Hill gains 1 on the carry. After a 2nd down pass to Ridley can’t connect, on 3rd and 9 Ryan checks down to Hill who can’t convert the down. Younghoe Koo comes on for the 42 yard field goal and punches it in to extend the lead.
Falcons 17, Cowboys 0
After another poor return and a Falcons penalty, the Cowboys offense starts from their own 32. Prescott passes to Schultz, who takes it 9 but apparently fumbles the ball with Atlanta recovering. AGAIN.
Brian Hill gets the carry and picks up 10 yards and the easy first down. After another Hill carry for 3 yards and an incomplete pass to Hurst, on 3rd and 7 Julio gets the pass interference call after being held, giving Atlanta the first down. On 1st and 10 from their 14, Todd Gurley picks up 1 on the run inside. After another Gurley run for 1 yard, on 3rd and 8 Ryan scrambles for a 4 yard gain. Koo comes on for the short field goal and punches it in.
Falcons 20, Cowboys 0
From their 25, the Cowboys offense starts with the pass to Amari Cooper for 12 and the first down. After Elliott takes it up the middle for 9 yards, but a holding penalty on Grady makes it a first down. Another Elliott run for 5 yards is followed by a pass to CeDee Lamb to convert the first down and take us to the end of the first quarter.
Falcons 20, Cowboys 0
A handoff to CeeDee Lamb sets up 2nd and short to start the second quarter. Elliott carries again for the easy first down plus some. Darqueze Dennard gets to the receiver quickly to make it 2nd and 13. On that down, Blake Bell catches it to setup 3rd and 3. Elliott runs for the first down and falls just 2 yards short of the end zone. After Elliott can’t convert on 1st down, he punches it in for the first Dallas score of the game.
Falcons 20, Cowboys 7
From their 25, the Falcons offense gains 25 on the big pass from Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley. After an incomplete pass to Keith Smith, Gurley explodes up the middle to setup 3rd and 2.On that play, Russell Gage comes in at QB and hands off to Gurley, but Atlanta can’t convert. Atlanta goes for it on 4th and 1 and Keith Smith carries it for the conversion. Ryan connects with Julio Jones, but a targeting foul on Jaylon Smith gives Atlanta 15 more yards and the first. A Gurley run for 3 is followed by a Ryan scramble to setup 3rd and 1. On the money down, Ryan connects with Russell Gage to setup 1st and goal. Ito Smith gets the toss and comes up just one yard short. A run by Ito up the middle loses a yard and on 3rd and goal from the 2, Matt Ryan connects with Calvin Ridley for his 2nd touchdown of the game. Atlanta goes for 2 and fails to convert.
Falcons 26, Cowboys 7
From their 25, Elliott runs for no gain. The screen to Zeke picks up the first down on the next play. Another run by Zeke picks up 4 and a quick pass to Pollard sets up 3rd and 3. Prescott converts on a short pass to Schultz. Cooper then picks up 12 on the next play. Dak finds Michael Gallup for a big 15 yard gain and another first. After an Elliott run and a holding penalty sets up 1st and 20 and Isaiah Oliver breaks up the first down pass, on 2nd and 25 after a false start Dak finds Elliott for 6. On 3rd and 19, Prescott scrambles and closes it to 4th and 8. Dallas takes the easy 33 yard field goal and knock it in.
Falcons 26, Cowboys 10
After a return to the 21, the Falcons start their drive with 1:41 left and 1 timeout. Gurley picks up 7 on the first down run. A false start sets up 2nd and 8 and Ryan finds Russell Gage for 10 yards and the first. Ryan again finds Ridley for 11 and the first. An offsides on Dallas sets up 1st and 5 and stops the clock with 25 seconds left and Atlanta near the 50. Ryan connects with Calvin Ridley for a big 20 yard gain and another first down. After Ryan targets Julio in the end zone and misses, on 2nd and 10 Ryan throws it away to setup the short field goal try with 6 seconds left. Koo comes on and punches in his third field goal of the day.
Falcons 29, Cowboys 10
The Cowboys start the 2nd half from their 27 after the kickoff return. Elliott picks up 11 to start the third quarter. After an incomplete pass to Amari Cooper, AJ Terrell makes a nice tackle to setup 3rd and 6. Prescott finds CeeDee Lamb for a big gain down the middle and the first down. The pass to Schultz goes for 15 yards and puts Dallas in 1st and goal from the 5. Elliott carries it to the 1 and on 2nd and 1, Prescott walks it in for the easy score.
Falcons 29, Cowboys 17
After the return goes to their 26, the Falcons offense starts with a pass to Keith Smith for one yard. After a toss to Gurley goes for 4 yards, on 3rd and 5 Matt Ryan finds Calvin Ridley yet again for 8 yards and the first down conversion. After a short completion to Hurst, and a run for one yard by Gurley, on 3rd and 6 Ryan connects with Russell Gage who falls and rolls over untouched to barely convert the first. A run by Gurley for 1 yard is followed by a nice pass to Brian Hill to pick up 8 and setup 3rd and 1. Russell Gage hits Julio in the end zone but he drops it. The Falcons go for it on 4th and 2 initially, but a penalty sets up 4th and 7 and they opt to punt.
After the punt goes inside the 20, the Cowboys offense starts their drive with a pass to Zeke that goes for 8 yards. Dak then finds Amari Cooper downfield for a one handed grab and a huge gain into Falcons territory and the first down. An Elliott run for 8 yards is followed by another that picks up the first and sets up first and goal. The pass to Schultz is stopped at the 2, but a roughing the passer penalty on Deion Jones gives Dallas the first down. Andy Dalton comes in and throws it away. On 2nd and goal, Dallas falls just short. Dak comes back in and he sneaks it in for the touchdown.
Falcons 29, Cowboys 24
Starting from their 26, the Falcons offense starts with a Matt Ryan scramble for 4 yards. On 2nd and 6, Ito Smith gains nothing on a run up the middle. The third down play is an underneath throw to Hurst who runs for 22 yards and a big first down. After Ito Smith gains 6 up the middle, Ryan is nearly intercepted targeting Ridley in the endzone. On 3rd and 4, Ryan connects with Gage but he’s 2 yards short. On 4th and 2, Ryan connects with Julio Jones for the 19 yard gain and the conversion. Ito Smith picks up 9 yards to setup 2nd and 1 and the end of the quarter.
Falcons 29, Cowboys 24
On 2nd and 1, Atlanta picks up the first with a Gurley run, setting up 1st and goal from the Dallas 8. After Ryan is forced to throw it away on first down, on 2nd and goal, Matt Ryan finds Russell Gage for the touchdown.
Falcons 36, Cowboys 24
Starting from their 24, the Cowboys offense starts with a run for 11 by Elliott. After Dak can’t connect with Cooper and Elliott runs for 5, on 3rd and 5 Prescott is pressured by the blitz from AJ Terrell, setting up 4th and 5. Dallas fakes the punt again and fails to convert, giving Atlanta the ball yet again. Atlanta takes over.
From the Dallas 43, Gurley starts the offense with a run that loses 2 yards. On 2nd and 12, Ryan connects with Hurst for a short gain. On 3rd and 8, Ryan hits Gage yet again who picks up 12 and gets the first down. After a Gurley run for 5 yards and another that loses 2, on 3rd and 7 the Falcons keep the drive alive when Ryan connects with Calvin Ridley again. On 1st and 10 from the Dallas 12, Gurley pounds it for 4 yards. After Ryan has to throw it away on 2nd and 6, on 3rd down Ryan has to throw it away. The Falcons bring on Koo yet again, and he punches it in to extend the Atlanta lead.
Falcons 39, Cowboys 24
The Cowboys offense starts from their 25 with a pass to Schultz for 6 yards and a near interception targeting CeeDee Lamb. On 3rd and 4, Dak completes it to Blake Bell on an amazing scramble and pass for the first down. Dak runs for 3 and follows that with an incomplete pass to setup 3rd and 7. Dak finds Lamb for 10 and keeps the drive alive. After a gain of 4 on a pass to Amari Cooper, Schultz picks up another first down. On first down, Noah Brown gets the reception but Keanu Neal hits his soul directly into the afterlife. On 2nd and 2, Dak finds Dalton Schultz in the end zone for the touchdown. Dallas goes for 2 and pitches to Elliott and they do not score. Atlanta maintains a 2 score lead.
Falcons 39, Cowboys 30
With under 5 minutes left and the ball on their 25, the Atlanta offense starts with a nice run by Todd Gurley for 6 yards. He then rumbles for 4 yards and the critical first down. Gurley runs for a 3 yard loss and on 2nd down the Falcons give up their first sack of the day, as Everson Griffen takes down Matt Ryan. On 3rd and 18, Ryan completes the short pass to Olamide Zaccheaus who comes up well short. Atlanta punts.
A great punt and great coverage puts Dallas on their own 24, where they start with a quick 10 yard pass to Amari Cooper and the first down. After a short pass to Zeke picks up 3 and Dak is nearly picked off by Dennard, on 3rd and 7 Prescott finds Noah Brown for a massive 47 yard gain, but it is pulled back by a blindside block on Dallas. On 3rd and 2, Dallas converts gain on the quick out to Lamb. On the next play, Dak targets Gallup and the catch is ruled out of bounds initially, but it’s changed to a catch. Dan Quinn challenges it and the call is not overturned. The Dallas offense comes back on with 1st and goal from the 5 and Zeke is unable to run it in on the first try and we hit the two minute warning. On 2nd and goal, Isaiah Oliver gets flagged for pass interference in the end zone, giving Dallas the automatic first. Dak is unable to hit Lamb on first down but Dak is able to sneak it in for the touchdown.
Falcons 39, Cowboys 37
The Cowboys go for the onside kick and recover! Dak Prescott starts with an incomplete pass. He then hits CeeDee Lamb for 15 yards and the first down. After Elliott runs for 2 yards and no yards, Dallas spikes the ball to setup the short 46 yard field goal. Greg Zuerlein comes on and punches it in for the win.
Final: Falcons 39, Cowboys 40