Here’s an instant analysis of the Cowboys’ 27-7 loss to Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cowboys played their first game without Ezekiel Elliott, who’s been suspended for the next six games, and it was a disaster. They didn’t run the ball with any success until the third quarter, which meant their offense had no rhythm. More important, the Cowboys struggled to mount any offense without left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed the game with a strained groin. In his place Chaz Green gave up a club-record five sacks to defensive end Adrian Claiborne. Now, the Cowboys have to figure out how to re-group and beat Philadelphia and stay in the NFC East race.
TURNING POINT: The Cowboys put their first good drive of the game together in the third quarter, moving 50 yards in 10 plays. The drive fizzled, and a 38-yard field goal would’ve pulled the Cowboys within 17-10. But Nugent banged the kick off the right upright. The Falcons drove for a touchdown and the lead swelled to 24-7 removing pretty much all hope for a Dallas rally.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrian Claiborne dominated the game, recording six sacks - the most a Cowboys’ opponent has ever had in a game. He also had five tackles, three for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The Cowboys’ offense never had a chance because left tackle Chaz Green could not block Claiborne.
KEY STAT: The Cowboys allowed a season-high seven sacks. It’s the most sacks the Falcons have had in a game since recording nine against Minnesota in 2005. Dak Prescott had been sacked only 10 times in the first eight games, which was tied for second in the NFL.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Cowboys will play the first-place Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles, who had a bye this week, lead the Cowboys by 2.5 games in the NFC East and a victory Sunday will essentially give them the NFC East title barring an epic collapse. The Cowboys better hope left tackle Tyron Smith’s assortment of injuries allows him to play Sunday because Green was a disaster, allowing five sacks against Atlanta.