The 2012 Atlanta Falcons remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL with just under half of the regular season remaining. The team's success boils down to one thing – its ability to find a way to win regardless of the obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are self-inflicted, but nevertheless, have been overcome. To these Falcons, a win is a win – and through rough waters they always seem to find a way to make it through the storm.
As quarterback Matt Ryan put it following his team's 19-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 4: "I think at the end of the day it's a league that's based on wins and losses and tonight was a solid effort by this team and we did what we needed to do to come out with a win."
Simply put, through all the statistical analyses, big plays, rallies and miscues, the Falcons are still the best team in the league at this point.
Atlanta once again prevailed to register the win over the Cowboys after laboring through most of the first two quarters. The Falcons found their stride in the second half, particularly in the final stanza, to overtake an out-staged Dallas team.
Week 9 – Game Analysis vs. Cowboys – Georgia Dome, Nov. 4
Running back Michael Turner had just 24 yards in 11 tries throughout the first three quarters.
Kicker Matt Bryant missed two field goals against Dallas after missing just two during the entire 2011 season. He missed his first and fourth attempts vs. the Cowboys – one from 43 yards out and the other from 37.
Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked three times.
At 8-0, the Falcons are just two wins away from securing a playoff berth with eight regular season games remaining.
Atlanta had a time of possession of 32:43 compared to 27:17 for the Cowboys, but more importantly, the Falcons held the ball for 5:04 leading up to Bryant's 32-yard field goal during that final drive. This gave their opponents only 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Ryan recorded a season-high 342 yards passing. He completed 12-of-17 yards for 155 yards in the first half alone.
Turner had a tie-breaking 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He totaled 102 yards in 20 carries, including a 43-yard sprint to set up the Falcons' go-ahead score.
Bryant redeemed himself by making good on two field goals in the second quarter of 45- and 46-yards.
Both Julio Jones and Roddy White had 100-plus yards receiving. Jones caught five passes for 129 yards – his longest being a 48-yard strike from Ryan. White tallied 118 yards on 26 catches.
Future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez caught his 50th pass of the season, joining former wide receiver Jerry Rice, as the only players in league history to record 15 seasons of 50-plus receptions. And Gonzalez is the only player in NFL history to do it in 15 consecutive seasons.
Defensively, Atlanta's defense held the Cowboys to 65 yards rushing, including containing running back Felix Jones to 39 yards in five carries.
The Falcons were penalized 15 yards for just two infractions, whereas Dallas committed seven miscues for 50 yards.
On the Season:
Leading the Falcons their first 8-0 mark in franchise history, head coach Mike Smith is now the club's all-time wins leader, reaching the 50-win milestone with Atlanta's win over the Eagles in Week 8. Smith surpassed Dan Reeves who went 49-59-1 from 1997-03
Through the first seven games of the season, the Falcons scored on 37 of their 77 offensive possessions, putting points on the board 48.1 percent of their possessions. The Falcons have had 13 scoring drives after penalty first downs, placing them second in the NFL.
Gonzalez caught the 99th touchdown pass of his career, tying WR Ron Huston for eighth on the NFL's all-time TD receptions list.
Roddy White, who prior to the Dallas game totaled 570 yards in receptions, added 118 additional receiving yards in Week 9. He currently ranks second on the club's all-time list behind Terance Mathis (573).
Despite not being able to contribute to scoring, All-Pro tight end He caught his 50th pass of the season during the 19-13 win over the Cowboys, which set yet another mark the greatest tight end to ever play the game can put on his resume.
He joined WR Jerry Rice — great company, if you didn't know — as the only players in NFL history to record 15 seasons with 50 or more receptions.
Gonzalez is the only player in NFL history to do it in 15 consecutive seasons.
Photo By Wendell Scott
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw for a season-high 342 yards, completing 24 of 34 passes to lead the Falcons to 19-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 4. The Falcons (8-0) are the NFL's lone undefeated team and will travel to face NFC South rival New Orleans on Nov. 11.