Rapid Reaction: Falcons 19, Cowboys 13

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
11:30
PM ET

ATLANTA -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 19-13 victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome:

What it means: The method was by no means pretty, but the Falcons remained the only unbeaten team in the NFL. At 8-0, they’re well on their way to clinching the NFC South and still in the NFC lead for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Falcons have been accused plenty of times this season of not always having pretty wins. But the bottom line is they’re winning and, if they keep doing that, they’ll get the respect their fans so desperately crave.

The Turner point: For most of the night, Atlanta running back Michael Turner looked old and slow and the lack of any threat in the running game was taking a toll on the passing game. But that all changed late in the third quarter when Turner broke off a 43-yard run to set up his own 3-yard touchdown run that broke a 6-6 tie. The Dallas defense was loading up and going after Matt Ryan, until Turner showed he still can turn a corner. Turner finished with 19 carries for 100 yards.

Dynamic duo: Julio Jones (118) and Roddy White (129) each topped the 100-yard receiving mark. White also set a new franchise record for receptions when he broke Terance Mathis' mark of 573 career catches.

Best surprise: Even without injured linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who might be Atlanta’s best defensive player, the Falcons played perhaps their best all-around defensive game. They limited the Cowboys to just two field goals until allowing a touchdown pass with 5:21 remaining.

Worst surprise: Atlanta’s Matt Bryant usually is one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers. But not on Sunday night. Bryant missed two field goal attempts. The last time Bryant missed two field goals in one game was Sept. 17, 2006. That’s when Bryant was playing for Tampa Bay. The opponent that day? The Falcons. But Bryant did hit a 36-yard field goal with 7:49 remaining and a 32-yarder with 17 seconds left to give the Falcons some insurance.

What’s next: The Falcons play at New Orleans next Sunday.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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