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When the schedule came out for the 2012 season, most (including me) looked at December, because that’s when the Dallas Cowboys usually implode.
Then we looked at the middle of the schedule—three straight road games against the Giants, Falcons, and Eagles. The pessimists said the Cowboys would lose all three. After tonight’s loss to the Falcons, Dallas is two-thirds of the way there.
[Correction (11/5): Dumb mistake on my part. The Cowboys play three road games in four weeks, but the Giants game last week was at home. The other road game was at Carolina.]
Yes, the Cowboys played the only unbeaten team in the league very tough. Yes, the Cowboys could have had a chance to win with just one more defensive stop with less than five minutes remaining.
But this is the modern-era Cowboys. We should know better.
With a 16-13 lead, the Falcons faced a 3rd-and-6 from their own 24 with just under 4 minutes left. Matt Ryan threw to Jacquizz Rodgers in the flat. Orlando Scandrick just had to make a tackle to force a punt. Rodgers instead broke the tackle and raced 31 yards past midfield.
Three plays later, the Falcons faced a 3rd-and-8. The Cowboys appeared to force an incomplete pass, but the referees called Scandrick for defensive holding.
From there, Atlanta ran the clock down and kicked a field goal. There were no miracles in store for the Cowboys, who fell to 3-5 with the loss.
At least the second half was a bit lively. The first half featured a total of four field goals. Dallas drove into the red zone twice in the first quarter before stalling and having to settle for field goals. The Falcons then tied the game with two of their own in the second quarter.
The Cowboys moved into Atlanta territory on the first possession of the second half, but the drive stalled. The Cowboys did not manage to move into Atlanta territory until midway through the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys came to life thanks to a quick drive that lasted just 2:28. Tony Romo hit Kevin Ogletree on a 21-yard touchdown to pull the Cowboys to within a field goal. However, the defense could not hold the Falcons when it mattered most.
The Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over, marking the first time that has happened all season. However, the Cowboys did not force a turnover, so Dallas still has a turnover ratio of minus-11.
Dallas also only had 7 penalties for 50 yards. However, Atlanta had only 2 for 15 yards, and the Cowboys’ penalties came at the worst times.
This felt like a solid defensive effort, but the Cowboys gave up some yardage. Turner had more than 100 yards on the ground, while both Julio Jones and Roddy White had more than 100 receiving yards each.
The Cowboys are still a half-game from the division cellar thanks to the Redskins’ loss to the Panthers on Sunday. If the Eagles lose to the Saints on Monday, the Cowboys will be tied with Philadelphia entering into next week’s matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Cowboys first faced the Atlanta Falcons during Atlanta’s inaugural season in 1966. Dallas won in a 47-14 blowout.
Blowouts were the norm in the early part of this series, as Dallas won the first five games by a combined score of 145-38. The teams played three of these five games at Atlanta.
The last of the five games took place in 1974 during the opening week. The Cowboys had little trouble with the Falcons that day, taking a 17-0 halftime lead on the way to a 24-0 win.
Here is a video with highlights:
It was a nice way to open the season for Dallas, but the weeks that followed were less than great. Dallas lost four in a row and wound up finishing at 8-6. The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1965.
The Cowboys lost to the Falcons for the first time in 1976, and the teams have been a bit more even in the series after the early domination by the Cowboys. Dallas holds a 16-8 edge in 22 games, including two playoff wins.
Before the quotes, take a look at a “highlight” videos about that team.
On to the quotes—
“‘K mart’ didn’t try to fall down. That’s just football. You’ve got to accept it.”
Troy Aikman after a 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys led 21-10 at halftime but could not score in the second half. Aikman was referring to receiver Kelvin Martin, who fell down on a route late in the game, leading to an Aikman interception.
“The rocky days are not over for the Cowboys. But I’m happy to get the win. We’re going to have a lot of wins over the next so-many years in Dallas, and it’s good to get it started.”
Jimmy Johnson after the Cowboys picked up their first and only win of the 1989 season against the Washington Redskins.
“Winning and losing concerns me, but what concerns me more is when you take away from the integrity of the game. It was confirmed last night by an Eagles coach and two Eagles’ players that there was a $200 bounty on Luis Zendejas and a $500 bounty on Troy Aikman. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played.”
Johnson about bounties that Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan placed on several Cowboys’ heads. Dallas lost to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day, 27-0.
Did You Know?
When the Cowboys lost to the Falcons, it marked the first time since 1963 that Dallas had started a season 0-2.
- Cowboys might have taken Junior Seau in 1990 (examiner.com)
- Troy Aikman backs Dallas Cowboys’ move to select Morris Claiborne – NFL News (blogs.bettor.com)
- The Dallas Cowboys built their dynasty through a series of great drafts (examiner.com)
- When Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks Have Moved On (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
- Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Cowboys vs. Giants (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.
The Cowboys were 16-point favorites when they hosted the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, but Dallas was unable to put Atlanta away until the fourth quarter.
The leading rushing for the game was Atlanta fullback Bubba Bean, who has 72 yards on 17 carries. The second leading rusher was Dallas fullback Scott Laidlaw (66 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns). Tony Dorsett was held to 65 yards on 14 carries, with a long run of just 12 yards.
Touchdown runs by Bean and Laidlaw, along with field goals by each team, left the score tied 10-10 in the second quarter. The Falcons took the lead when Steve Bartkowski hit Wallace Francis for a 17-yard score, and then the Cowboys got sloppy. Here is a video clip from the game:
Atlanta only managed a field goal as a result of the Dorsett fumble shown in this clip, giving the Falcons a 20-13 halftime lead. Dallas also lost quarterback Roger Staubach when he was hit in the head by Robert Pennywell.
Danny White performed admirably in relief, though, throwing a game-tying score to tight end Jackie Smith. When the Falcons botched punt in the fourth quarter, giving Dallas field position in Atlanta territory, the Cowboys marched in for a game-winning touchdown by Laidlaw.
With the win, Dallas had to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in the NFC Championship Game.
Box Score (P-F-R)