Cowboys' Brandon Weeden efficient, but not effective enough

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was no blaming Brandon Weeden for the Dallas Cowboys' 39-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Coach Jason Garrett wasn’t having it.

“I thought our quarterback did a really good job in this game,” Garrett said. “I don’t know what his numbers were, but he didn’t throw many incompletions. He had the one poor throw before the half where he moved and threw the interception that gave them a scoring opportunity, but other than that I thought his decision-making was very good.”

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones concurred.

“I really liked what I saw out there as far as how he handled himself,” Jones said. “It wasn’t too big for him. I thought he made some really good decisions. He wasn’t throwing the ball but 15-20 yards at best, but I thought he made some really good decisions. I think we have something to work with.”

Weeden’s final numbers: 22-of-26 passing, 232 yards, no touchdowns, one interception. He actually set a team record by completing his first nine passes, giving him a streak of 21 straight completions dating to last season. Tony Romo, whom Weeden replaced, held the record with 17 straight completions.

“Overall, I thought I was efficient,” Weeden said.

He was efficient, but it wasn’t good enough to win. He threw just two long passes downfield. His first pass attempt of the game was a long throw to Terrance Williams that was negated by a penalty. His second was a seam route to Jason Witten in the third quarter.

The Falcons suffocated the Cowboys' offense when it became clear offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wasn’t going to challenge them with deep throws. The only receiver to catch a pass Sunday was Cole Beasley, who had four catches for 49 yards. Williams was targeted twice. There were no throws to Brice Butler, Devin Street or Lucky Whitehead.

“Coach Linehan is an aggressive guy by nature as well and he likes to throw the ball downfield as much as anybody,” Weeden said. “He says it all the time: The quarterbacks are going to try to throw it to the open guy, take whatever they give us. Just because we haven’t thrown the ball down the field doesn’t mean we are going to throw it down the field the next three plays. That is just not logical football. But you have to take your shots while they are there and hopefully you can cash in on a few of them.”

After the Cowboys opened the game with a staggering running game, Atlanta’s defense adjusted and stifled Dallas, but somehow even with an extra defender in the box, the Cowboys could not -- or would not -- take chances outside.

“When you get third-and-8 or third-and-9 and they’re playing man, they’re really not giving that deep threat down the side,” Weeden said. “It was tough for those receivers to really get on their toes. You’re able to do that when you get them on their heels a little bit.”

Weeden called his interception a “stupid mistake.” Running to his left, he had Witten open but was unable to throw accurately. The Falcons turned that turnover into a touchdown and it seemed to take away any confidence the coaches had in their passing game.

“I would rather have thrown it up to the 300 Level than how I did it,” Weeden said. “I’ll remember and I’ll never do it again.”

Had he thrown it to the 300 Level, it would have been his longest throw of the day.