|Falcons running back Michael Turner broke through for 84 yards and a touchdown in the second half against Dallas on Sunday night. (US Presswire)|
Sunday night’s 19-13 win over Dallas probably didn’t impress the prime-time audience but the Falcons are 8-0 halfway through the regular season and that’s all that matters inside Atlanta’s locker room.
When asked about whether he minds that the Falcons seem to be flying below the radar despite their perfect record, WR Roddy White said, “I really don’t care. It really doesn’t mean anything to me. …These games really mean a lot to us as a franchise because we’re in the heat. These tough games are how playoff games are going to be.”
Against the best defense they’ve faced all season, the Falcons did just enough improve their home record to 30-6 since 2008.
The Falcons’ gaudy 453 yards of offense yielded one touchdown, but receivers Julio Jones (129 yards) and Roddy White (118) were excellent in stretching Dallas’ defense wide enough for Michael Turner to burst out of the backfield in the second half. Turner had 84 of his 102 yards in the second half, most of which came on a 43-yard surge late in the third quarter. That run set up the Falcons’ only touchdown of the game, a three-yard rumble from Turner, who was sprung from an excellent block by rookie RG Peter Konz. Previous game’s grade: A
The Falcons failed to force any turnovers for the second consecutive game and missed several costly tackles that extended Dallas drives. The defense was outplayed throughout much of the first half but held the Cowboys to two field goals after long drives in the first quarter. The most concerning aspect to the Falcons’ victory was that after Atlanta took a 16-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the defense allowed a six-play, 78-yard touchdown drive in just in just under two and a half minutes. It’s the second time in three games the defense has folded in similar circumstances. Previous game’s grade: A
Special teams: C
Matt Bryant, who was 16 for 17 on field goal attempts coming into the game, hit four of six attempts but missed from 37 yards and 43 yards, respectively. Dominique Franks, the Falcons punt returner, averaged just six yards on two punt returns. Previous game’s grade: A
The Falcons' coaches deserve credit for sticking with the run game even after an abysmal showing in the first half where running backs Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers had 10 carries for 15 yards. The duo kept pounding the Dallas front seven until it wore down in the second half. Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan once again had a creative plan and had his unit prepared for the Cowboys’ receivers. Previous game's grade: A
For more Falcons coverage, follow Mike Singer @CBSFalcons.