(Editor's Note: Each Tuesday, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will present "The Big Picture" for the upcoming game, presenting an overall update for each team as they head into the upcoming contest. This week, the Cowboys and Falcons, both 2-0, square off in a Week 3 battle at AT&T Stadium.)
WHAT: Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
WHEN:Sunday, Noon (Central)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
First, the Cowboys found a way to rally past the gritty Giants without star receiver Dez Bryant. And then, they went to Philly and shut down the Eagles' high-flying attack. In the process, the Cowboys also lost Tony Romo to a broken clavicle injury that will likely keep him out eight weeks.
So the Cowboys are 2-0, sitting alone in the NFC East standings and one of just four undefeated NFC teams. But the victories were extremely costly as they now turn to Brandon Weeden as the starting quarterback. Last year, he lost his only start when Romo went down with a back injury and for his career, he's 5-16 as a starter, mostly occurring in his first two years in Cleveland.
The Cowboys will be without their two best offensive weapons Sunday, and perhaps the team's best pass rusher, rookie Randy Gregory, went down in Week 1 with a high-ankle sprain and is expected to miss his second straight game this week.
The defense, however, didn't appear to miss him as they controlled the line of scrimmage against the Eagles and were able to play the game at their own pace. Philly's up-tempo style never got on track because the Cowboys were able to stop DeMarco Murray and the Eagles' running game. Murray was held to just 2 yards on 13 attempts.
The secondary also came up with big plays, including a fourth-quarter interception by J.J. Wilcox on a play that was made by rookie corner Byron Jones, who blanketed Eagles tight end Zach Ertz all day and deflected a pass in the air for Wilcox to pick.
Any mention of the Cowboys' defense can't exclude Sean Lee, who was credited with 14 tackles, two for loss and a key interception in the end zone.
This Cowboys defense doesn't garner many headlines, but for them to withstand injuries to Romo and Bryant, that side of the ball might have to carry this team here in the next two months.
The Falcons have had a very similar beginning to the season with wins over the Eagles and Giants. It's a fast start for new head coach Dan Quinn, who coordinated the Seahawks defenses that helped produce a Super Bowl and reach another over the last two years.
Quarterback Matt Ryan directs the Falcons' offense for the eighth straight year, and his primary target – among the most dynamic in the league – is Julio Jones, who's tied for the league lead after two games with 22 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie running back Tevin Coleman is dealing with a fractured rib, according to multiple reports, which means the running game could rely heavily on multi-talented back DeVonta Freeman.
The Falcons ranked 32nd in total defense last year, but Quinn's group is already showing signs of improvement, holding Philadelphia's DeMarco Murray to nine yards on eight carries in Week 1. Former Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant led Atlanta with 10 tackles last week against the Giants.
This is the 26th meeting between the two teams with the Cowboys holding a 16-9 advantage. They last played in 2012, a 19-13 Falcons win.
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