ATLANTA– In the 20-point loss, there were many moments that didn't go the Cowboys' way, as they found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout.
But all games have those plays that can get lost in the shuffle, but still play a huge part in the final outcome. Check out the five from this game that turned the tide.
Clayborn's First Sack Set the Tone – Who would've thought Adrian Clayborn sacking Dak Prescott early in the game would turn into a trend? But on the Cowboys' first series of the game, the offense moved to the Falcons' 37-yard line and faced second-and-9. But Prescott was dropped for a 5-yard loss, followed by an incomplete pass on third down. The Cowboys had to punt the ball and waste a scoring chance. The sack likely prevented a field-goal opportunity. Considering how hard it was to get points, every opportunity was needed.
Two Short Gains by Rod Smith –We all remember the offensive pass interference call on Brice Butler that wiped out a first down and another scoring chance. But on first down, a few snaps earlier, the Cowboys were on the move at the Falcons' 39. Just a two-yard pass to Rod Smith, followed by a no-gain rush from Smith, set up a third down and another sack. Those two runs prevented a chance to get into scoring position and resulted in yet another punt.
Can't Recover from Green Holding Call –On top of giving up sacks to Clayborn, Chaz Green had a crucial holding call just before halftime that likely took points off the board. A 10-yard pass to Cole Beasley to the Falcons' 35 was wiped out because of Green's holding call. The Cowboys went back to their own 45 and Dak Prescott was sacked and fumbled to end the drive. The Cowboys were down 10-7 and a field goal could've changed the mindset going into halftime.
Conversion to Gabriel After Half – The Cowboys absolutely had to get off the field and hold the Falcons to a field goal to start the second half. On a crucial third-and-6 on the 20-yard line, Matt Ryan hits Taylor Gabriel for 14 yards to the 6, setting up a first-and-goal. Three plays later, Ryan again went over the middle, this time to Justin Hardy for the touchdown. Holding Atlanta to a field goal would've been a big boost for a struggling defense, but instead the Falcons grabbed the 10-point lead and control of the game.
Dak Sacked Again, Stalls Empty Drive – The Cowboys took the ball on their first second-half possession and marched down the field with an improved running game. Alfred Morris ripped off some nice runs and the Cowboys had a first down at the Falcons' 12. But on first down, Prescott was sacked on the blind side by Clayborn, his fourth of the game. Green was beaten again off the edge. The seven-yard loss pushed the Cowboys back eventually to the 21, where they missed out on points when Mike Nugent's field goal hit the right upright, keeping the Cowboys at 7 points.