Falcons Blow 19-point Second-half Lead, Lose 40-39 to Cowboys

Zach Hood

The Atlanta Falcons headed into today's matchup with the Dallas Cowboys desperate for a win. Following last week's loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Falcons were up against the wall trying to avoid an 0-2 start, which often means doom in terms of making the playoffs.

The Falcons received the opening kickoff, and proceeded to go three-and-out after two runs and a pass on third-and-short.

After another punt, Deion Jones strip-sacked Dak Prescott. John Cominsky recovered the fumble. 

In short order, Matt Ryan found Calvin Ridley for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 10:58 remaining in the first quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Foye Oluokun forced a fumble on Ezekiel Elliott that was recovered by Grady Jarrett. 

Ryan capitalized on the turnover by connecting with Hayden Hurst for a 42-yard touchdown to give Atlanta a 14-0 lead halfway through the opening quarter.

After a failed Cowboys fake punt on the next possession, the Falcons capitalized on the good field position with a field goal by Younghoe Koo and took a 17-0 first-quarter lead. All 17 points in the first came off Dallas turnovers.

A third first-quarter fumble forced by Oluokun set up the Falcons in scoring range again with four minutes left in the period. Atlanta hit another field goal to take a commanding 20-0 lead with 1:06 remaining in the first.

Oluokun became the first player to force three fumbles in a quarter since Vonnie Holliday did it for the Green Bay Packers in 2002.

Dallas finally mounted a drive that didn't end in disaster early in the second, with Elliott scoring a 1-yard touchdown to bring the score back to 20-7 in favor of the Falcons.

The Falcons responded by marching down the field with another touchdown drive. Ryan connected with Ridley for a 3-yard touchdown to make the score 26-7 with 5:58 left in the first half after a failed two-point attempt that may have cost Atlanta the game.

The Cowboys were able to put together their second scoring drive of the game late in the second, cutting the Falcons' lead to 26-10 with 1:46 left in the opening half.

Dallas left too much time on the clock for Ryan and company, who drove into field-goal range, where Koo connected for his third field goal of the half to give Atlanta a 29-10 lead heading into halftime. 

The Cowboys rallied in the third with two unanswered touchdowns, cutting the score to 29-24 in favor of the Falcons. 

Early in the fourth, Ryan found Russell Gage for a score to push the lead back to double digits. 

The Falcons' defense was able to slow the Cowboys attack early in the fourth, and a fourth Koo field goal gave the Falcons a 39-24 lead with fewer than eight minutes remaining.

Dallas answered that field goal with another touchdown to seemingly cut the score back to a one-possession game, but the Cowboys elected to go for two, where Elliott was denied short of the goal line Damontae Kazee. Atlanta led 39-30 with under five minutes to go.

The Cowboys got the ball back and scored again with 1:49 to go, setting them up for an onside kick down 39-37 with 1:49 remaining. The Cowboys recovered the onside kick, which the Falcons hands team severely misplayed.

Prescott fired the Cowboys into field-goal range within seconds. Greg Zuerlein was teed up for a game-winning 46-yard field goal, which he made as time expired. 

Ryan finished the game 24 for 36 with 273 yards and four touchdowns. Ridley led the way receiving with 7 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Jones was held quiet, just two catches in the game. Gurley had 21 carries for 61 yards. 

Prescott threw for 450 yards and scored four total touchdowns.

Atlanta will be back in action next week for a home game against the Chicago Bears.

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