Televised by Fox and narrated by Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman, 80,000 spectators watched the Atlanta Falcons knit a sweater in Texas with the Dallas Cowboys. Question: who would finish first? The first quarter began with the Falcons on offense and a touchdown, courtesy of a great Jason Snelling run and a Matt Ryan–Roddy White connection. Atlanta 7 and Dallas 0. The first quarter ended with Cowbacks backup quarterback Jon Kitna going in for Tony Romo (who fell pretty hard against the turf and was experiencing neck/head discomfort).
Romo returned in the second quarter. The Cowboys got a field goal. Atlanta 7 and Dallas 3. The ball volleyed between the teams for the next several minutes. Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin TD run in the second half of the second quarter put his team on top. The quarter ended with wide receiver Patrick Crayton catching a TD pass in the back of the end zone. Dallas 17 and Atlanta 7.
The third quarter progressed halfway through before the Falcons demonstrated substantial momentum. Jason Snelling ran the ball well, and Roddy White caught a pass that tight end Tony Gonzalez was supposed to catch. Running back Michael Turner punctuated that rise in power with a touchdown. Dallas 17 and Atlanta 14. Miles Austin widened the score gap with his second TD in the bottom of the quarter. Dallas 24 and Atlanta 14. The fourth quarter enlarged that space for the Cowboys with a forty-seven yard field goal by Nick Folk. Dallas 27 and Atlanta 14. What on Galileo’s good planetary beliefs would the Falcons do offensively? Would Matt Ryan sharpen the accuracy of his projectiles? Well, nothing really. Patrick Crayton returned a punt for seventy-three yards for a TD. Dallas 34 and Atlanta 14 with essentially half a quarter left to play.
Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins ran into Falcons wide receiver Marty Booker, picked up the ball and headed straight for the end zone because no whistle blew. Falcons head coach Mike Smith challenged the alleged fumbled ball. He won the challenge. Six minutes left in the game and Atlanta was down twenty points. Would a one-point win be a lost cause? a pipe dream? Well, Matt Ryan connected with Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems for a TD. When the fourth quarter was drawing near the two-minute warning, Nick Folk launched another field goal. With what was surely the Falcons’ last possession, Matt Ryan was intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick. One of the cameras caught his reaction in a medium close-up. He huffed and puffed and unbuckled his helmet as he walked to the sidelines (towards the position of that camera). Dallas 37 and Atlanta 21. Final score.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. How strange was it for some of the Falcons offensive player to go against their former teammate, Keith Brooking?
2. Matt Ryan’s shoes were hot pink.
3. The mantra or hype over the Falcons ever since Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, Matt Ryan, and Michael Turner joined the Falcons family is one of strike hard in the first and rock steady thereafter. By mid-season last year, a pattern had emerged with respect to the Falcons’ scoring. They’d put the numbers up on their first few possessions in the first half of a game and then work to maintain the lead in the second half. With roster changes, both offensively and defensively, in the 2009 season, why must we all assume or expect that strike hard in the first and rock steady thereafter would necessarily still apply? The Falcons have had to play with a stronger emphasis on adaptability this season. Whatever gets you through this drive, whatever will get the ball back. And then, sometimes you just need a reality check. Yes, you were just intercepted; yes, you just fumbled that ball; yes, you just got that first down, now do something with it.
4. Miles Austin has Hyori smiley eyes (the eyes disappear!)….and horrific teeth. My gourd. He’s got too many teeth.