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Falcons vs. Cowboys: Winners and Losers

There weren’t any winners on Atlanta’s side

Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

That was disgusting. The Atlanta Falcons went into Dallas, feeling good about themselves following a nice rivalry win in New Orleans, and laid the biggest possible egg, losing 43-3.

This was something resembling a game in the first quarter, with the Falcons down only 7-3 and actually having the ball and driving downfield on their second possession. After that, everything becomes a blur.

The true losers were us Falcons fans who had hoped for at least a semi-respectable performance from our home squad, but that’s a bit too simplistic of an answer. We’ll delve a bit deeper into who the winners and losers were from Sunday’s evisceration.


Winners:

The Dallas offense, which was looking for a “get right” game

The Cowboys offense laid their own egg in Week 9, getting shut out against the Denver Broncos until garbage time. Denver led that game 30-0 in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys started padding stats to make things look more respectable. They were in need of a “get right” game following that performance.

Enter the Atlanta Falcons, sporting one of the least talented defenses in the NFL. The Cowboys marched downfield and into the end zone on the very first drive of the game, and that was a harbinger of things to come. The Cowboys ended up scoring 29 points in just the second quarter (one of those was a touchdown off a blocked punt) and cruised to a feel good win. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb all had multiple touchdowns.

Dan Quinn

If you ask Dan Quinn what this game meant to him, you’ll probably get some coach speak about how no one game matters more than any other and that this was just another one of those games. Deep down, this was one which the former Falcons head coach likely circled on the calendar, at least internally.

Quinn gained a measure of revenge against the franchise that fired him in the middle of last season (deservedly so) and he did it in dominant fashion, with the defense he coordinated giving up just three points to Atlanta’s offense all afternoon. An offense which was led by the man who ultimately replaced Quinn in the head coach’s chair at Flowery Branch. This had to have felt amazing for Quinn.

Anyone who either missed this game entirely or had the option of turning the channel at halftime

The true winners are those Falcons fans who were at their child’s soccer game on Sunday afternoon, or at church, or maybe enjoying the beautiful outdoors. The Falcons did nothing but embarrass themselves and the city, and those who didn’t have to watch a minute of this game were better off for it.

Winners also include those who refused to subject themselves to the masochism for too long, and who changed the channel after enough was enough — maybe they switched to the Redzone channel and tracked their fantasy team, maybe they decided to watch another game, maybe they turned off the tv and joined the lucky folks who were outdoors while it was going on.

Losers

The entire defense

The entire defensive unit was absolutely reprehensible throughout the entire game. After forcing a punt on Dallas’ second drive of the game, they allowed the Cowboys to score touchdowns on each of their next three possessions, making it four TDs in five first half drives.

Dallas did whatever they wanted to in this game, and they showed no respect at all for anyone on Atlanta’s defense. Even with All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith not playing, the Birds registered 0 sacks, one tackle for loss and two QB hits all game. It was the definition of a toothless performance.

Matt Ryan and the offensive line

Ryan had one of the worst games of his career, statistically, putting up just 117 yards on a completion rate of 9-21. He threw two interceptions (though one was clearly not his fault) and registered a passer rating of 21.4, which is the lowest mark of his career. Think about that for a second — in over 200 games played in 14-year career, Ryan has never had a lower passer rating than in this game.

What didn’t help matters was the offensive line getting routinely beaten by Dallas’ front seven while this game was still somewhat competitive. Ryan was sacked twice for massive yardage losses, and hit another three times. The unit also didn’t provide many holes in the run game.

Atlanta’s entire coaching staff

Losing by 40 in the NFL, to anyone, doesn’t just happen coincidentally. You have to be severely out-coached and outplayed in a mix of disaster for that happen, and that’s exactly what happened. Arthur Smith said so in his press conference following the game.

The offense mustered just three points all day, which was a season low. the defense surrendered 37 points, which was a season high. Even the special teams allowed a touchdown in the form of a blocked punt. It was a rough day at the office for the coaching staff, which got schooled by Mike McCarthy, Dan Quinn and the rest of their counterparts.