Dallas's 37-21 win on Sunday was the first instance of a complete game in 2009, with offense, defense and special teams playing good, clean football; because of this, one would be hard pressed to identify a single unit as the "most impressive." But given Atlanta's pedigree with respect to protecting Matt Ryan, the Cowboys' pass rush must be in the conversation.
That Dallas sacked Ryan four times is remarkable, considering that the sophomore quarterback had been sacked just twice all season coming into Sunday; this is particularly true considering that the Cowboys weren't all that creative in their approach. Jay Ratliff abused center Todd McClure, and Atlanta had no answer for the speed rush of DeMarcus Ware. This was straight-forward, no-frills physicality. And it worked.
Ware tallied two sacks and a forced fumble in the win.
For the Cowboys, this was a statement; for the Falcons, this was an ugly, potentially discouraging day. In their postgame comments, the Falcons engaged in little sugar-coating, not that there was much point. What had happened was simply too obvious: outside of an opening drive that went methodically 80 yards down the field and resulted in a Roddy White touchdown, they had been man-handled.
“We knew we had a challenge on our hands,” Tyson Clabo said in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The problem . . . is that they have five good pass rushers. We were a lot of times just one-one-one with those guys. You can’t put a back on those guys.They kind of whipped us.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me," Clabo continued. "We knew they were good pass rushers. We’ve got to do a better job. It’s really inexcusable.”