Falcons remain unbeaten, hold off Cowboys 19-13
Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (11) tries to run past the grasp of Dallas Cowboys' Gerald Sensabaugh (43) during the second half of an NFL football game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Atlanta won 19-13. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)
Published Monday, November 5, 2012 6:46AM EST
ATLANTA -- For the Cowboys, it must have felt as if the Georgia Dome gave the Atlanta Falcons an overwhelming home-field advantage.
For the Falcons, it was the site of another underwhelming narrow victory.
Michael Turner gave Atlanta its first lead with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Matt Bryant kicked four field goals and the Falcons beat the Cowboys 19-13 Sunday night to extend their run as the NFL's only unbeaten team.
File this one behind the other close wins at home - by 6 over Denver, by 2 over Carolina and by 3 over Oakland.
The Falcons are 8-0, even if some of the uninspiring home wins draw more criticism than praise.
"We're not concerned with the doubters," Turner said. "This team's main focus is coming out and getting a win each game."
Turner had 20 carries for 102 yards and Matt Ryan completed 24 of 34 passes for a season-high 342 yards for the Falcons, who took their first lead with 14:16 left in the game.
"There's a reason they're undefeated halfway through the season," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "This is a challenging place to play at. I thought we did some good things in the ballgame. They did more good things. We didn't do enough to win this game in all three phases of our football team."
Tony Romo completed 25 of 35 passes for 321 yards for the Cowboys (3-5), who have dropped four of their last five games. They were held to 65 yards rushing, including 39 yards on nine carries by Felix Jones.
The Cowboys trailed 16-6 before Romo tried to put together a comeback. He completed all six of his attempts on a big drive that ended with a 21-yard TD strike to Kevin Ogletree.
The Falcons then worked the clock, holding the ball for 5 minutes, 4 seconds, leaving only 17 seconds after Bryant's 32-yard field goal.
The Cowboys burned all their timeouts as Ryan kept the Falcons' offense on the field in the crucial time-consuming drive. Ryan passed to Jacquizz Rodgers for 31 yards and 11 yards on third-down plays. A defensive holding call against cornerback Orlando Scandrick on another third down prolonged the possession.
Finally, the Cowboys stopped Turner on a third-down run at the Dallas 14.
Romo never attempted a deep pass, though he had only 17 seconds to cover 80 yards. He found Jason Witten for passes of 7 and 11 yards, leaving 9 seconds. He passed to Felix Jones for 8 yards, leaving time for one play from the Cowboys 40.
Romo scrambled before passing to Jones, who was dropped near the Atlanta 22 to end the game.
"I think any time you're in that situation you obviously want to get the ball back with a chance, and it's tough," Romo said. "That's why they're a good football team. They're tough to beat at home. They proved it when they were able to run the clock out at the end."
Roddy White had seven catches for 118 yards and passed Terance Mathis for the most receptions in Falcons history. Julio Jones had five catches for 129 yards.
There also is a new Dallas leader for career receptions. With seven catches for 51 yards, Witten has 754 for his career, passing Michael Irvin's record of 750.
Miles Austin led the Cowboys with seven catches for 76 yards.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was "extremely, extremely" disappointed.
"We certainly didn't plan to end up here at 3-5 halfway through the season," Jones said. "We've got some tough ballgames. We've got half our season left."
For three quarters, it was a kicking contest - and a pretty shaky one, too.
Bryant kicked field goals of 45 and 46 yards in the second quarter for Atlanta's only points before Turner's score. Bryant also missed from 43 and 37 yards, wide right each time.
Dan Bailey's field goals from 23 and 32 yards were the Cowboys' only points in the first half. He missed from 54 yards.
Ryan was sacked three times and faced constant pressure.
Ryan's 48-yard pass to Jones set up Bryant's 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 16-6.
NOTES: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a fan forum for Falcons season-ticket holders before the game. Goodell attended the Steelers-Giants game in East Rutherford, N.J., earlier Sunday. ... Mathis, who began his career with the Jets, had 573 catches with the Falcons from 1994-2002. White now has 577. ... Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware had 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. ... Dallas DT Jay Ratliff injured his left leg late in the first half but returned in the second half. ... Falcons DT Peria Jerry left in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. ... Playing behind Felix Jones, Lance Dunbar had eight carries for 26 yards, including an 18-yard run.