ARLINGTON, Texas – Brandon Weeden had a good choice of words when asked about his play in Sunday's 39-28 loss to Atlanta.
"Overall, I thought I was efficient," he said.
It's hard to argue with him. Over the course of the afternoon, Weeden completed 22-of-26 passes – 85 percent – for 232 yards. He did throw an ill-advised interception, but it was a sizable step up from the disastrous performance in his 2014 start against Arizona.
"I thought his decision making was very good," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We moved the ball throughout, but unfortunately we didn't do enough in the second half to continue moving and continue scoring points."
That second thought by Garrett exemplifies the problem with Weeden's afternoon, even if it was efficient. Dallas ran 30 plays for 295 yards in the first half, en route to a 28-17 halftime lead. In the final two quarters, they ran 19 plays for 52 yards.
"We couldn't keep the momentum we had built in the first half carried over in the second half," Weeden said. "I don't know how many plays we had run in the second half, but there weren't a ton of them there."
The Cowboys' second half possessions lasted three plays, seven plays, three plays and six plays, and the longest of those four possessions covered just 29 yards – hardly a sustained drive among the group.
It's fair to say that Weeden was efficient in that stretch, as he completed 9-of-12 passes for 68 yards after halftime. But as anyone who watched the game can attest, it wasn't nearly enough. Weeden only completed four passes to wide receivers – all of them to Cole Beasley – and he failed to stretch the field.
The Cowboys' longest completion of the day was 22 yards, which was a catch-and-run by Lance Dunbar.
Those types of short, conservative passes marked the Dallas offense in the loss – which both Weeden and Garrett said was a big part of the week's gameplan.
"They were going to give us some throws outside, but I felt that we had a great gameplan for how they play defense," Weeden said. "They run a system like Seattle did last year against us. We had a good gameplan – LD and those backs coming out of the backfield are big weapons for us."
Dunbar and Weeden's other complementary options certainly did benefit. Dunbar finished with 10 catches for 100 yards, while Jason Witten added six for 65. Without a true downfield option, though, the Falcons adjusted. It speaks volumes that Dallas rushed for 131 yards in the first half – and finished the day with 127.
"They put a lot of guys around the line of scrimmage and made it more challenging," Garrett said. "You have to be balanced. You have to make them pay for it in the passing game. When we were able to do that, we had some success moving the football and scoring some points. When we weren't, we weren't able to do those things."
That pretty much sums it up as the Cowboys digest their first loss of the 2015 season. There's no denying that Weeden was efficient in his first start of the year, but efficient wasn't quite enough.