The Dallas Cowboys defense had begun to develop a reputation recently of making the most out of really horrible situations and carrying its turnover-plagued offense to keep the Cowboys in games (see last week's debacle against the New York Giants).
On Sunday night, the Cowboys offense, while not being very productive and deserving plenty of blame itself, didn't turn the ball over and the special teams played wonderfully, putting Atlanta in undesirable field postition for most of the night.
Still, the Cowboys lost 19-13 on the road to the undefeated Falcons, and a lot of that can be put on the defense.
Third down after third down after third down, the Falcons converted in the second half after the defense had stifled Matt Ryan & Co. throughout the first half, which ended in a 6-6 tie on a Matt Bryant field goal as time expired.
Down the stretch, when things mattered the most, the Cowboys defense was simply not ready. Of course, Rob Ryan took blame for that, like he always does, but the players have to have some accountability as well. On two key third downs, the Cowboys didn't even look like they were ready to play as Matt Ryan employed a quick snap and got first downs both times.
That doesn't even account for the numerous drive-extending penalties and the horrible missed tackles, both of which defensive back Orlando Scandrick was guilty of, both of which came on, you guessed it, third down.
So, just because the Cowboys only gave up one touchdown to one of the most explosive offenses in the league doesn't mean they played well defensively. Here's some pretty solid evidence: The Falcons had six drives of at least 60 yards. Seven of the Falcons' nine drives ended in points or a missed field goal from Bryant, who had two rare misses on the night. So yeah, as bad as it was, it could've even been worse.
There's plenty of folks to blame for Sunday night's loss, which could've ended any hope at a playoff spot this year. The offense was awful, with the exception of one drive, the coaching was awful, the play-calling was awful, and yes, the defense was pretty awful too.
At least we had the special teams to be happy about.