ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Wide receiver Brian Finneran #86 of the Atlanta Falcons is tackled by Terence Newman #41 and Gerald Sensabaugh #43 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In what is being called the worst Atlanta loss in Mike Smith's short tenure as head coach, the Dallas defense stepped up to a level that everyone wished for and, for much of the season leading up to Sunday, few expected out of this group. The doubts were intensified with a less than reassuring injury report, which detailed injuries to two key members of the unit. Hardly foreseeable was the degree to which these would be inconsequential against a deft offense like Atlanta's.
DeMarcus Ware, who played with a stress fracture in his left foot, looked like the beast of 2008, reaching Matt Ryan twice--an accomplishment, considering that Ryan had been sacked just twice over the Falcons' first five games--and forcing a fumble. Ware now leads the team in sacks with four.
Gerald Sensabaugh, playing with a cast on his broken thumb, delivered at least two big hits, and effectively shut down Tony Gonzalez, who posted just four catches for 37 yards. What Sensabaugh brings, as opposed to Roy Williams the Bengal, was illustrated on Sunday--he is capable of laying wood, but isn't so enamored of the big hit as to forget his duties in coverage.
The effect of these injuries, seemingly, was zero on Sunday and this is a large positive; injuries come and go quickly in the NFL. Overcoming them, adjusting to them--rolling with the punches, as they say--is a sign of a good football team. But then, so is holding Matt Ryan to a 66.1 passer rating.