Sunday, October 25, 2009
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 37, Falcons 21
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys have found a No. 1 wide receiver -- and he doesn't go by the name Roy Williams. For the second consecutive game, fourth-year receiver Miles Austin put up huge numbers in helping the Cowboys pick up a monster win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Austin had six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since breaking the Cowboys' single-game record in a win over the Chiefs two weeks ago. Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games -- and he's become Tony Romo's favorite target.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys gave Matt Ryan fits almost the entire afternoon. All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and caused a fumble in leading a fierce Cowboys pass-rush. Ryan led the Falcons on a long touchdown drive to start the game, but he never really returned to that rhythm. He was 19-of-34 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The first interception occurred when Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff were breathing down Ryan's neck.
The only Falcons player the Cowboys' defense couldn't account for was fullback Jason Snelling, who had 68 yards rushing on only seven carries. The Cowboys assured themselves of at least being in a tie for second place in the NFC East heading into next Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
It was also a big game for Patrick Crayton, who was benched to make room for Austin in the starting lineup. Crayton caught a touchdown pass with six seconds left in the first half to give the Cowboys a 17-7 lead. Then he put the Falcons away with a punt return for a touchdown. He was pressed into return duties when the newly acquired Allen Rossum went down with a hamstring injury early in the game.
It was also a big day for Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking, the longtime Falcon. He didn't put up big stats (two tackles) but he was a big reason that Michael Turner couldn't get going. And after plays, Brooking spent time jawing with his former teammates.
There's a good chance the Cowboys and Eagles will both show up for their Nov. 1 game with 5-2 records.