It wasn’t a high-scoring blowout versus the Dallas Cowboys, but it was still a “W,” as the Atlanta Falcons stayed perfect at 8-0 through week 9. The Falcons put up just 19 points last Sunday, as the typically reliable Matt Bryant struggled, missing two field goals—wide right from 37 yards and again from 43 yards.
The Cowboys kept the explosive Matt Ryan in check, yielding a season-high 342 passing yards to Ryan but holding him touchdown-less, ending his streak of 22 consecutive games with a TD pass. The lone Falcons TD was scored on a 3-yard rush by Michael Turner, Matt Bryant posting the other 12 points on field goals. Turner’s touchdown broke a 6-6 tie and gave the Falcons their first lead of the game with just14:16 to go.
The Falcons D returned the favor, giving up just one touchdown—a 21-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Kevin Ogletree—in the final quarter of the game. Dan Bailey’s first quarter field goals from 23 and 32 yards were good for the other 6 Cowboys’ points.
Last week’s game may have been a battle of the kickers, but despite that, it was still a record-setting week for both offenses. Roddy White reeled in 7 passes for 118 yards, surpassing Terance Mathis for the most receptions in Falcons’ history. While with the Falcons, Mathis had 573 career catches; White’s 7 grabs last Sunday put him atop the list with 577. On the other side, Jason Witten’s 7 catches for 51 yards gave him a total of 754 career receptions, exceeding Michael Irvin’s record of 750.
Next week, the Falcons hit the road to take on the lowly New Orleans Saints, but don’t let their 3-5 record fool you. Beating a division rival on their home field leaves the Falcons with no easy task at hand, and you can never discount a quarterback like Drew Brees. Will the steadfast Falcons be able to defend their perfect season, or will the improving Saints manage to get a fourth win in five games? However the chips fall, I think we can expect one thing for certain: This will be a hard-fought shootout.