No break for Cowboys as they head to AtlantaBy Ashley Powell
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a heartbreaking 29-24 loss at home to the NFC East-rival New York Giants. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for America’s Team. The ‘Boys will be tested once again when they travel to Atlanta to face the undefeated Falcons on Sunday night.
Veteran quarterback Tony Romo continues to struggle, leading the league in interceptions with 13. His performance is partly the reason for the team’s losing record, but luckily for Dallas, he’s best in November.
Romo is 19-2 in November since taking over the starting job in 2006. He has thrown for 5,887 yards with 51 touchdowns against 14 interceptions in the month. The Cowboys have outscored opponents 593-367 during that stretch, a positive sign heading to Atlanta.
According to reports, Romo is pressing head coach Jason Garrett to let him throw the ball more. The only problem with that is the quarterback tends to find guys without the star on the side of their helmets.
Ground and Pound
The Cowboys need to find a way to take advantage of Atlanta’s 26th-ranked rush defense. They likely will be without starting running back Demarco Murray, who did not practice again this week due to a foot injury. However, he’s listed as a game-time decision. Backup running back Felix Jones was limited in practice on Thursday suffering from a lingering knee issue. The team may have to rely heavily on second-year running back Phillip Tanner, who is poised for a breakout game after showing promise his rookie season. Lance Dunbar, a rookie out of North Texas, could also see some action in the backfield as well as special teams.
Dallas won’t win this battle without an effective passing game. But a potent ground attack could help keep the Cowboys in the game come the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Cowboys are playing well given the amount of time they spend on the field due to turnovers on offense. The team is minus-11 in the takeaway/giveaway department, 31st in the league. They had some success against the Giants last week playing Cover 2 on defense in an attempt to eliminate the deep plays. The defense will most likely play safeties over the top against Atlanta due to their outside deep threat receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Lastly, the front four on defense must pressure quarterback Matt Ryan and force him into mistakes. Ryan will pick the secondary apart if he is allowed to stand in the pocket, survey the field and cook dinner. He has a plethora of weapons and is quick to pull the trigger. The Cowboys are No. 4 overall in total defense but sack numbers are down this season (13). They must find a way to rattle Ryan’s cage and come out of the ATL with the victory.
This should be an interesting matchup nonetheless.