ARLINGTON, Texas – Any other week, Dan Quinn facing his old Falcons team would've been the top storyline.
The Cowboys defensive coordinator had no interest in strolling down "memory lane" this past week, however.
"We've got some s**t to fix," Quinn said last Monday after the defense gave up the second-most points of the season (30) in a blowout loss to the Denver Broncos.
Fix, they did.
The Dallas defense dominated Sunday, holding the Falcons to a season-low three points in a resounding 43-3 victory at AT&T Stadium. It was the first time since 2017 that the Cowboys had given up three points or less, and their three interceptions were the most by the team in 11 years.
Quinn – the Falcons' head coach from 2015 through the middle of the 2020 season – was handed a game ball from head coach Mike McCarthy in a celebratory Cowboys locker room.
"Dan's an outstanding coach, but he's an even better man. He's a true brother in this, as far as what we've established here, and we continue to want to grow," McCarthy said. "There wasn't an individual in football ops that didn't want to see Dan get a game ball today."
The Falcons parted ways with Quinn after an 0-5 start last season, but he had a successful run in his first NFL head coaching job, leading Atlanta to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016.
He used the time off to take a critical eye at his own coaching style, dissecting what has worked over the years and what hasn't. He says his defensive scheme has evolved, with the Cowboys (7-2) varying their packages and coverages through nine games this season. And the club brought aboard fellow former Falcons to help implement that style: defensive line coach Aden Durde, defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr., linebacker Keanu Neal and safety Damontae Kazee.
After the game, Quinn acknowledged that "it's good to have that game done and over with."
"One, there's a lot of people I care about, a lot," he said. "…More than anything, when you, like any team that you, a lot of friends you have, you go and battle. It's the fun part of the NFL.
There's always good rivalries between coaches and players. There's a lot of guys on that roster and in the building I certainly care about a lot."
Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, who led the team with six tackles and got his sixth sack of the season Sunday, said Quinn was focused on the defense's improvement during the week, not beating his former team.
"I just think that Q wanted to come out here and punch somebody in the mouth after last week," Parsons said. "It was the first week that I ever saw Q's face, turn red at practice. I think this meant more him being here for the Cowboys than him trying to get some agenda against Atlanta.
"He just wants to see us come out here and play up to the standard. I'm looking forward to next week. I'm pretty I saw a big smile on his face. So, I'm happy we were able to please him. He's not worried about that old (stuff). He's worried about what's going on right now."
Said Quinn, "We just wanted to capture our style and identity. When you don't have it, you really notice it. Leaving the Minnesota game (Oct. 31), our style was back, how we like it. When we have one that you don't, it shows up. That's what we challenged one another on. Let's make sure we capture our style and attitude and how we play. I thought the players did a fantastic job of that."