Now that's what you call a comeback!
Nothing was seemingly going right for the Dallas Cowboys, the team facing a seemingly insurmountable 20-point deficit in the first quarter and a 15-point disadvantage with 4:45 to play.
But somehow, someway in their first home game of the season, with so many expected starters out with injury, the team still managed to battle back and earn the win, defeating the Atlanta Falcons with a last-second field goal, 40-39.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was superb in the winning effort, completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 450 yards and a touchdown for a 109.4 passer rating. He also ran for three scores, the first multi-rushing touchdown game of his career.
Behind his effort, the Cowboys racked up 570 yards of total offense, converting 54 percent of their third-down opportunities and reaching the end zone on all four of their red zone chances.
Rookie CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper both topped 100 yards receiving while tight end Dalton Schultz stepped up with a team-high nine catches for 88 yards and his first career touchdown.
All of which seemed like it wouldn't matter much early on, as the Cowboys fell into a huge hole … and largely of their own doing. While the game-time decision that left tackle Tyron Smith would be sidelined due to a neck issue certainly didn't help, joining already injured right tackle La'el Collins, the real problem for the Cowboys were their own mistakes in the first quarter.
Before the announced crowd of 21,708 had seemingly even settled in, turnovers and a special teams miscue had Dallas down by three scores. The Cowboys, though, not only went blow for blow with Atlanta over the final three quarters, they outscored the Falcons 40-19 to steal the win.
Again, the Cowboys couldn't have gotten off to a worse start as they fumbled five times in the first quarter. On two of those the team retained possession – the first the runner having been ruled down already – but the other three quickly led to Falcons points. Throw in a poorly executed fake punt by Dallas and the game appeared lost before it ever got going for the home side.
Atlanta took full advantage of the Cowboys mistakes. The scoring began when Prescott, under pressure, appeared to be attempting a quick shuffle pass to Schultz. Instead the ball was knocked loose, recovered by the Falcons' Dante Fowler.
Set up at the Cowboys' 22-yard line, on the very next snap, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan hit Calvin Ridley on the left sideline, the receiver tiptoeing to the pylon for the score.
That was followed by running back Ezekiel Elliott having the ball punched out at midfield, the Falcons recovering at their own 48-yard line. Four plays later, Ryan found tight end Hayden Hurts wide open for a 42-yard touchdown.
Field goals by the Falcons' YoungHoe Koo for 42 and 27 yards upped the visitors' advantage to 20-0 after 15 minutes of play. The first field goal was tacked on after Dallas was unable to convert on an attempted fake punt. The play call worked, gunner C.J. Goodwin was open. But punter Chris Jones underthrew his target, the pass incomplete. Yet another fumble, this one by Schultz, led to the second three-pointer.
After that debacle of a quarter, the Cowboys ramped up the pace and were able to respond with 10 points in the second frame. An 11-play, 75-yard drive gave the team its first points on the day, as Elliott did the heavy lifting with 34 yards on six rushes, which included a punishing 1-yard run across the goal line for the score.
Greg Zuerlein then capped off another 11-play effort with a 33-yard field goal with just under two minutes remaining in the half.
Around those two possessions, though, the Falcons added another 10 points, as the Dallas defense really had no answer for Ryan and his passing attack. A 12-play, 75-yard series produced a 3-yard toss to Ridley for a touchdown. And although Ryan couldn't connect with the wideout on a failed two-point conversion, he guided his team to a 41-yard field goal with six seconds remaining, Atlanta going into the break with a 29-10 lead.
But Dallas was showing they could move the ball … if they could hold onto it. Having possession to start the third quarter, the Cowboys desperately needed to find the end zone if they wanted to make a game of it.
And that's exactly what they did, scoring on each of their next two possessions to pull to within five points.
Prescott and company took the second-half kickoff and marched right down the field, the big blow coming with a 37-yard pass to the rookie Lamb to the Falcons' 23-yard line. Three plays later, Prescott faked the handoff and took it himself off left tackle for the score.
The Cowboys quarterback got the next touchdown as well. After the Cowboys caught a break when Falcons' all-everything receiver Julio Jones dropped a sure touchdown pass, forcing a punt, Dallas went 83 yards in eight plays to pay dirt. Prescott earned the honors with a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line, but the highlight of the drive was a 58-yard completion to Cooper, who made a spectacular catch.
However, the Falcons continued to add to the scoreboard with Rylan orchestrating another 10 points for the visitors, which included a field goal after another botched fake punt attempt by the Cowboys. The game seemed over.
But that's when the fun began.
The Cowboys found the end zone again on their next series, a beautiful 10-yard pass from Prescott to tight end Dalton Schultz providing the points. But down nine with five minutes remaining, the decision was made to go for two, and when Elliott then came up short on his run around the right end, Dallas still faced a two-possession shortage.
No matter. Thanks to an outstanding 38-yard catch from Michael Gallup to the Falcons' 5-yard line, the Cowboys quickly the end zone again, Prescott getting his third rushing score of the game.
And then, improbably, the Cowboys recovered the ensuing onside kick, Goodwin pouncing on the ball at the Dallas 46-yard line with 1:48 left in the game. A 24-yard pass from Prescott to Lamb put them in field goal range, which left it all up to Zuerlein to bring home the win.
With 4 seconds remaining, the kicker put it right down the middle, the Cowboys pulling off the unbelievable come-from-behind 40-39 victory to push their record to 1-1 on the season.
And in the process, giving Cowboys fans one they'll always remember.
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