ATLANTA - With DeMarco Murray inactive and Felix Jones playing at less than 100 percent, it seemed likely that some of the younger running backs of the Cowboys would get a few more opportunities than normal.
While most thought that Phillip Tanner was next up on the depth chart after Jones, it was actually Lance Dunbar who was called upon to provide a spark in the offense.
While Jones led the team with nine carries, Dunbar was right behind him with eight of his own. Philip Tanner only received one carry in the game.
Dunbar took advantage of his eight carries, more than he had ever gotten in a game in his young career, by running for 26 yards, including an 18 yard burst in the third quarter. Besides the long run, Dunbar was unable to do much as he was often hit almost immediately after receiving the handoff.
It was a similar story for Jones who rushed for 39 yards off of his nine carries. He had a 15-yard run and a few other productive bursts, but he too was often hit quickly upon receiving the football. It should also be noted that Jones had been nursing lingering knee and shoulder issues in the week leading up to Sunday night's game.
Perhaps even more notable is the fact that Phillip Tanner only had one carry in the entire game in which he was emphatically brought down for no gain on a third and one play for the Cowboys. Many people had assumed that Tanner would become a larger part of the offense coming into the game.
The run run-blocking was so unproductive at times that perhaps the coaching staff felt more comfortable gambling on the big-play potential of Dunbar's speed against the Falcons' defense. While he was often brought down for very minimal gain, Dunbar at least showed the potential to make things happen in open space.
Dunbar was also once again the primary kickoff returner for the Cowboys. In three attempts he averaged 24.3 yards per return and had one return of 39 yards.
Even with a few decent runs from Jones and Dunbar, the overall run game of the Cowboys was once again lackluster. They ran for a total of 65 yards and only managed 3.6 yards per carry against a Falcons rush defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league coming into the game.