Falcons Back On Track, Whip Cowboys
Adrian Clayborn set an Atlanta record with six sacks, Matt Ryan threw a pair of short touchdown passes and the Falcons romped to a 27-7 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys, who looked anemic offensively in their first game without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Ryan hooked up with Justin Hardy on a 3-yard pass for Atlanta's first offensive touchdown in the third quarter this season . Early in the fourth, Ryan put the game away for the 5-4 Falcons by tossing one to Austin Hooper for a 1-yard score.
While the 5-4 Cowboys sure missed Elliott, who finally began serving a six-game suspension for allegations of domestic abuse after three legal reprieves, they really noticed the absence of left tackle Tyron Smith. He sat out the game with back and groin injuries, leaving third-year player Chaz Green to protect Dak Prescott's blind side.
It didn't go well for Dallas. Beating Green time after time, Clayborn forced two fumbles , recovered one of them and surpassed the team record of five sacks, held by Chuck Smith and Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey.
Even more impressively, Clayborn's performance matched second-most sacks in NFL history. Derrick Thomas, Osi Umenyiora and Fred Dean are the only other players credited with six sacks in a game, while Thomas holds the league record with seven sacks for Kansas City against the Seahawks on Nov. 11, 1990.
Clayborn had more sacks in this game than any other season in his career except for his rookie year in 2011 when he had 7.5. He came into Sunday with 20.5 sacks in his seven-year career.
Dallas jumped ahead 7-0 on Prescott's 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which was set up by Xavier Woods' interception off a deflected pass.
The Falcons took control from there.
After Matt Bryant's 50-yard field goal, Tevin Coleman powered over from the 1 to give Atlanta a 10-7 halftime lead.