It was a game where head coach Jason Garrett had to lean on his defense, and for three quarters, they didn't let him down. In the end, however, trying to hold this high-powered Atlanta offense in check was just too much for them.
The Falcons were eventually able to make too many big plays while the Cowboys offense couldn't. Lack of execution on third downs, continued dropped passes and untimely penalties have made this Dallas squad what they are, a 3-5 team.
When Garrett strives for balance, there is none. This offense runs the ball in spurts or not at all consistently enough. When you can't get movement at the point of attack and your offense is going nowhere, it puts entirely too much pressure on the quarterback to have to make plays. And when he struggles, then the problems are worse. Tony Romo wasn't at his best, and when he doesn't play his best, this team has no chance.
I really believed that coming into this night there would be opportunities to take some shots on these Atlanta cornerbacks and make it a physical battle. But, it was the Falcons receivers who turned the game into a physical one, which was just one of the problems for the Dallas defense.
The Cowboys allowed Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to attack the middle of the field, exposing their safeties. Then, when DeMarcus Ware got a sack that knocked the ball loose, the fumble lying there on the turf, no one in a white jersey could come up with the prize. And finally, when the defense needed a final stop, they couldn't get it, allowing the Falcons to kill the game.
From my press box seat, linebacker Bruce Carter's effort was wasted. He played a heck of a game and was all over the place. These last two weeks have been outstanding for Carter when the team needed him to step up and make plays with Sean Lee lost for the season. Carter is everything that the front office and coaches thought he was.
I am sure when I study the tape from this game there will be others that played well, but for the most part not nearly enough. It seems like I've said this before after previous Cowboys games: One team was able to make plays and the other wasn't, which resulted in another loss for Dallas.