At­lanta soars on the road over Dal­las 39-28

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By SCHUYLER DIXON AP Sports Writer

Julio Jones glided over the goal line on a div­ing touch­down. That qui­eted a Dal­las crowd riled up by early hopes that the Cowboys might find a way to sur­vive with­out Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

Fill-in At­lanta run­ning back Devonta Free­man did most of the rest of the si­lenc­ing.

Matt Ryan con­nected with Jones for two touch­downs, Free­man ran for 141 yards and three scores start­ing for in­jured rookie Tevin Coleman, and the Fal­cons beat the Cowboys 39- 28 on Sun­day.

“We just want to move the ball — I don’t care how we do it,” said Free­man, who also had 52 yards re­ceiv­ing. “Run, pass, if we get three points on a field goal, as long as we move the ball and get points.”

Free­man’s third score early in the fourth quar­ter capped a rally from a trio of 14-point deficits for the Fal­cons (30), who didn’t win their third game un­til Week 10 last year, and Week 13 in 2013.

Jones had his third straight 100-yard game to start the sea­son, fin­ish­ing with 164 and a clinch­ing 2-yard score late in the fourth. Ac­cord­ing to the NFL, At­lanta is the first team to start 3-0 af­ter trail­ing in the fourth quar­ter of each game.

“We clearly got punched in the mouth and we were look­ing to re­spond,” said Dan Quinn, who joined Jim Mora (2004) as the only At­lanta coaches to start their ca­reers with three straight wins. “Dal­las cer­tainly had us reel­ing all the way through and we had to bat­tle like crazy to get back in it.”

The Cowboys ( 2- 1) had a six-game win­ning streak in the reg­u­lar sea­son snapped in backup quar­ter­back Bran­don Wee­den’s ninth straight loss as a starter go­ing back to his two-year stint in Cleve­land.

With Romo watch­ing with a sling sup­port­ing his bro­ken left col­lar­bone, and Bryant also in street clothes be­cause

of a bro­ken right foot, Wee­den started 9 of 9 to push his streak of com­ple­tions to 16 to start the sea­son.

But the run ended with a sec­ond-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion that turned the game in the Fal­cons’ fa­vor.

“We did a lot of re­ally good things,” Wee­den said. “Maybe not so much in the sec­ond half.”

Dal­las run­ning back Joseph Ran­dle had 85 yards on his first three car­ries, in­clud­ing a 37yard touch­down that helped the Cowboys to a 14-0 lead. He had just 2 yards on his fi­nal 11 runs, and the Cowboys had just three first downs in the sec­ond half af­ter get­ting 20 be­fore half­time.

Free­man, who started with Coleman bat­tling a rib in­jury, had no trou­ble with the league’s No. 1 rush­ing de­fense, get­ting 89 yards in the sec­ond half as the Fal­cons scored touch­downs on three straight pos­ses­sions to over­come a 2817 deficit. At­lanta was 9 of 14 on third down.

“When you are rolling on a third down, and you’re run­ning the ball ef­fec­tively, that’s when you get into a mode of­fen­sively where you think, ‘ No mat­ter what hap­pens, we’re go­ing to find a way,’” said Ryan, who was 24 of 36 for 285 yards with­out an in­ter­cep­tion.

The Fal­cons gave them­selves a boost by driv­ing to Matt Bryant’s 32-yard field goal in the fi­nal 40 sec­onds of the first half to get within 11, the key play a 35-yard pass to Free­man to get into field goal range.

Wee­den’s ill-ad­vised throw while scram­bling to his left was easily in­ter­cepted by Wil­liam Moore, putting the Fal­cons on the Dal­las 23. Free­man’s sec­ond score pulled them within a touch­down in the sec­ond quar­ter.

While Wee­den rarely looked down­field af­ter that turnover, Ryan and Jones got go­ing af­ter a slow start.

Jones had 137 of his yards in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing a 45-yard catch- and- run touch­down that ended with a dive as he turned up­side down and held the ball over the goal line in his out­stretched arm. A 2point con­ver­sion pulled At­lanta within 28-25.

Wee­den was 22 of 26 for 232 yards, but Cole Beasley was the only re­ceiver to catch a pass. Ran­dle fin­ished with 87 yards rush­ing and three touch­downs, match­ing his to­tal from last sea­son when he was NFL rush­ing cham­pion DeMarco Mur­ray’s backup.

NOTES: At­lanta TE Ja­cob Tamme didn’t re­turn af­ter leav­ing in the first half with a head in­jury. ... Dal­las RB Lance Dun­bar had 10 catches for 100 yards, but sev­eral were fu­tile at­tempts to get first downs in third-and-long sit­u­a­tions.

Michael Ainsworth/AP

At­lanta Fal­cons run­ning back Devonta Free­man (24) is stopped on a run­ning play by Dal­las Cowboys’ Nick Hay­den (96) in the first half of an NFL football game on Sun­day, Sept. 27, 2015, in Ar­ling­ton, Texas.

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