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IRVING - There were 117 plays in the undefeated Atlanta Falcons’ 19-13 win over the Cowboys on Sunday night. The Cowboys, as usual this season, made just enough to secure a loss. Gaffes on offense and defense doomed the Cowboys, dropping Jason Garrett’s career record to 16-16.
Here are five plays that shaped the game.
Play: Tony Romo incompletion
Situation: Third-and-5 from Atlanta 5
Score: Tied, 0-0
Time: 10:56 left in first quarter
Taylor's Take: This play is one more indication Tony Romo is a good quarterback in the midst of a bad season. Cole Beasley, lined up in the left slot, started moving with Romo as the quarterback's protection broke down. Romo moved left, avoiding pressure, and lofted a pass to Beasley, who had a step on his defender in the back of the end zone near the pylon. It was a tough throw, but one Romo is capable of making. Romo put a little too much air under the pass and it sailed over the 5-9 Beasley’s head.
Play: Phillip Tanner tackled for no gain
Situation: Third-and-1 from Dallas 49
Score: Dallas, 6-3
Time: 1:57 left in second quarter
Taylor's Take: Lawrence Vickers was signed for plays like this, but he failed this time. Linebacker Mike Peterson blew up Vickers, knocking him back into Tanner and foiling the play. The Cowboys gave up the ball and the Falcons drove 60 yards in seven plays for a game-tying field goal with three seconds left.
Play: Miles Austin drop
Situation: Third-and-13 from Dallas 41
Score: Tied, 6-6
Time: 3:07 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Miles Austin made three or four terrific catches against Atlanta, but he dropped a routine pass the Cowboys desperately needed. Austin, positioned in the slot, was wide open when the Falcons blitzed from the slot. Instead of securing the ball, he turned to run and the pass skipped right through his hands. The Cowboys’ punted and the Falcons drove for their only touchdown.
Play: Michael Turner 43-yard run
Situation: Second-and-2 from Atlanta 43
Score: Tied, 6-6
Time: 1:29 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Turner had been a non-factor, gaining 24 yards on his first 11 carries. The Falcons blocked this play perfectly. Demarcus Ware crashed hard inside, taking himself out of the play, receiver Roddy White pinned safety Gerald Sensabaugh and linebacker Ernie Sims took a poor angle. Turner ran through safety Danny McCray's arm tackle and picked up 32 more yards before Brandon Carr brought him down. Three plays later, the Falcons led 13-6.
Play: Orlando Scandrick missed tackle
Situation: Third-and-6 from Atlanta 24
Score: Atlanta, 16-13
Time: 3:57 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Orlando Scandrick had done a nice job tackling throughout the game, but he missed the game’s biggest tackles. Instead of stopping Jacquizz Rogers four yards short of a first down, and giving the offense a final opportunity to tie or win the game, Scandrick failed to make a routine play as Rogers gained 31 yards. Tony Romo didn’t get the ball back until 17 seconds remained in the game.