Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Falcons Continue Their Second Half Dominance To Improve to 3-0

Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman (24) is greeted at the sideline by coach Dan Quinn, right, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth )

Dan Quinn's Falcons and Dirty Bird Nation alike are dreaming of a successful 2015 campaign just three games into the season, as the Atlanta Falcons rallied from a 28-17 halftime deficit to beat the Dallas Cowboys 39-28 and improve to 3-0. Yesterday was truly a tale of two halves, as we saw Atlanta's defense struggled to stop the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack featuring Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden behind one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League. The duo posted over 131 rushing yards and a combined four touchdowns on the ground in the first half.
Matt Ryan first down scramble
In the second half, the Falcons completely changed the momentum of the football game as they posted a shutout defensively, with second-year phenom Devonta Freeman and stud Julio Jones destroying the Dallas Cowboys defense and leading Atlanta to another comeback victory. We have seen some highs and shocking lows thus far; however, the Falcons are standing atop the division heading into October with an undefeated September for the first time since 2012. Now, we'll recap the Thriller at AT&T Stadium and provide more analysis on the victory.


Joseph Randle first touchdown of the game 

Atlanta won the toss; however, they deferred to the second half. The Dallas Cowboys, who entered the game with many questions about how the team would perform without star quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant, stunned their sell-out home crowd with a two-play, 80 yard drive which took only 1:08 off the clock, as Joseph Randle ran for an electric 37 yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead with 13:59 remaining in the quarter. Atlanta's first possession wouldn't be as pretty, as the Falcons would go three and out as Sean Lee sacked Matt Ryan forced the team to punt. Dallas would respond yet again with an eight-play, 77 yard drive that accumulated 4:37, ending with another rushing touchdown by Joseph Randle as the Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead with 7:57 to go in the quarter. 
Devonta Freeman's first touchdown of the game

All of the momentum was in the Dallas Cowboys favor forcing the Falcons to step up to the challenge of rallying from a double digit deficit for the second straight week. Atlanta's offense would respond with a eleven-play, 80 yard drive which took 4:07 as Devonta Freeman rushed for a 3 yard touchdown and the Falcons trimmed the lead to 14-7 with 3:09 remaining in the quarter. Atlanta's defense would make their first impact of the game, holding the Cowboys offense to five plays for only 22 yards and ended the quarter punting back to the Falcons.


Darren McFadden touchdown to extend a 21-7 lead

Atlanta's offense didn't capitalize on their next opportunity to trim the lead, as the offense would go three and out, forcing another Matt Bosher punt back to Dallas who would begin their drive at their own 44 yard line with 12:44 left in the quarter. Dallas would make the Falcons pay on their next possession as the Cowboys capitalized on a eight-play, 56 yards drive taking up 5:09 as Darren McFadden scored a two yard rushing touchdown giving Dallas a 21-7 lead with 8:15 remaining in the half and would force the Falcons to punt yet again on another three and out from Atlanta's offense. 

Devonta Freeman touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14

With all of the momentum in their favor, the Cowboys were about to put the victory away... right? WRONG. On the first play of their possession, under intense pressure from the Falcons front seven, Brandon Weeden threw an interception to William Moore and he would return it back to the Cowboys 23 yard line with 6:03 remaining in the half. The Falcons captialized on their turnover as Atlanta's offense would score on a seven play, 23 yard drive as Devonta Freeman scored his second touchdown of the day on a two yard run to trim the Cowboys' lead down to 21-14 with 2:28 left in the quarter.

Joseph Randle third touchdown
Dallas would answer yet again by driving on a six-play, 80 yard drive taking up only 1:38 off the clock as Joseph Randle scored for a third time on a one yard touchdown with only :40 remaining before halftime. With all three timeouts, the Falcons would put together a six-play, 66 yard drive in under :40 seconds as Matt Bryant booted a 32 yard field goal attempt as the Falcons trimmed the Cowboys lead to 28-17 at the half. None of us knew at the time, but this would begin the Falcons dominance in the second half of the contest.


Matt Ryan to Juliooooooooo Jones

Atlanta's opening possession of the second half wasn't pretty, as a holding penalty by Jake Matthews forced the drive to stall after six plays, forcing the Falcons to punt back to the Cowboys with 12:46 remaining in the quarter as Dallas took over in Falcons territory at the 47 yard line. However, the Cowboys would earn two penalties that ended their possession on a three and out and Atlanta would take over on their own 13 yard line. The Falcons offense started their second half dominance, capitalizing on a six-play, 87 yard drive which took 3:15 as Matt Ryan completed a pass to Julio Jones, who used his athleticism to turn the play into a 45 yard touchdown pass. That sliced the Cowboys' lead to 28-23, but the Falcons weren't done yet. 

Matt Ryan completed a two-point conversion to Levine Toilolo, who was filling in for Jacob Tamme. That trimmed the deficit down to 28-25 with 8:01 remaining in the quarter. With the need for a score desperate, the Dallas Cowboys next possession was anything but impressive, as the offense stalled out after a questionable roughing the passer penalty, punting the football back to the Falcons offense. Atlanta's offense capitalized yet again with an eleven-play, 89-yard drive which would continue into the final period.

Devonta Freeman go ahead touchdown

Atlanta's drive ended with a seven-yard touchdown run by Devonta Freeman, his third touchdown rush of the day. That gave the Falcons their first lead of the afternoon at 32-28 with 12:10 remaining in the final period. The Dallas offense took the field attempting to score again; however, the Falcons defense would continue their shutout in the second half as Dallas went three and out, ending the drive with a critical sack by rookie Vic Beasley. The Falcons took over at their own 38-yard line with 9:26 left in the contest looking to close the contest out with a road victory.
Matt Ryan to Julioooo Jones for a second time
The Falcons offense would close the game out on an eleven-play, 62-yard drive that took 6:12 off the clock, as Devonta Freeman posted a few solid and clock-eating runs. The drive ended with a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Julio Jones, giving the Falcons a 39-28 lead with 3:52 remaining in the contest. The Cowboys offense got the ball back one more time, but they couldn't get to Atlanta territory, going four and out as the Falcons took a knee to clinch the victory. Atlanta won their first contest in Dallas since a 27-7 victory in the 2003 season and added on another road victory to their 2015 regular season.

GAME MVP's: Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones

Devonta Freeman with a VIOLENT run

 Where do we begin? Oh yeah..Devonta Freeman!!! Entering this game, Tevin Coleman was injured and the rushing attack was decent but we weren't sure how they would fare against a Dallas Cowboys defense that contained DeMarco Murray and the Eagles rushing attack just a week ago. Freeman, Atlanta's fourth round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft had a breakout game for the ages. Freeman posted 30 carries, 141 rushing yards, and 3 touchdown rushes against the Dallas Cowboys, a team that entered the game as the league's No. 1 rushing defense. 

Devonta Freeman crucial run before the half

This was the first time we've saw an individual effort that dominant on the ground in a few seasons, probably since the dominant days of the early Michael Turner era. One of the biggest questions this season was how the running game would fare this season under Kyle Shanahan's new scheme. Yesterday, we saw the potential of this unit and how they could turn out for the future. Freeman had a rough pre-season battling through injuries and yesterday was a statement that he'll be a force to be reckoned with in Atlanta's rushing attack. Once Tevin Coleman recovers, look out for the backfield tandem!

Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons leaps over the goal line to score a touchdown as Tyler Patmon #26 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on the in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas…
(Getty Images)

JULIOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Yes, the star wide receiver Julio Jones continued his impressive start to the 2015 NFL season. Against Dallas, Jones posted (12) receptions for 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns making it his third straight 100-yard game to start the season, In total, Jones has (34) receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns, and also has the highest receiving yards per game (90.3) in NFL history, which is amazing! 

The Matt Ryan to Julio Jones connection is turning into one of the best quarterback to wide receiver tandems around the NFL. In his 5th season, Julio Jones is well on the pace towards becoming one of the best, if not the best receiver in the National Football League. After battling injuries on and off early in his career, it's special to watch this phenom in action and it's even sweeter to watch considering he's a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

NEXT OPPONENT: Houston Texans (1-2)

Alfred Blue scores a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As the Falcons return home for the next two weeks, we will welcome J.J Watt and the Houston Texans defense to the Georgia Dome. Sunday's contest will be the first biggest test for Atlanta's offensive line but I am fully confident in this unit's ability to step up and deliver another victory on Sunday afternoon. 

GAME INFO: October 4, 2015
                      1:00 PM (CBS)
                      Georgia Dome, Atlanta G.A.


What a special afternoon of Falcons football we were able to witness on Sunday. After a discouraging first half, Atlanta made halftime adjustments and put together one of the best second half efforts I've seen from this ball-club in a long time. What a difference in the culture and coaching staff!! Although I would love to see the Falcons put together a better start to games and a full sixty minute effort, the 3-0 record is undeniable indeed. Let's take it one game at a time, Falcons Nation. Until next week, FALCONS RISE UP!!!!!

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