How good can it get for Cowboys' fans right now? A day after the team puts up another fat "W" to go 4-2, Jerry Jones and company follow that up by giving DeMarcus Ware a fat contract extension. The agreement is said to be six years for $78 million with $40 million guaranteed.
Now, Dallas has one of the best defensive players in the game locked up through 2015.
Coach Phillips knows a good defender when he sees one. He thinks Ware is as special a player as any he's coached.
"I’ve been lucky to be around a lot of good ones. He’s at the top of the class, and it doesn’t take long to call the roll," said Philllips, also the team’s defensive coordinator. "He’s an all-around player, and he plays the run well, too. That’s what you really like about him."
The Cowboys drafted Ware from Troy instead of, who was then taken 12th overall by San Diego when Phillips was the defensive coordinator there.
"I was around Merriman, he had 17 sacks in 12 games. Of course, Reggie White and Bruce Smith were special. (Ware) is special. He’s a special guy in that way," Phillips said. "He’s got all the things it takes and he utilizes them and he works hard at it. He’s only going to get better."
More VRR after the jump.
That was a physical game by the defense. What's even better is that they learned from their mistakes.
The defense came up big after early adjustments. The game opened with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in Ryan throwing a 4-yard TD to, but the had only 13 yards and no points on their subsequent four possessions.
"We were like, ‘OK. This is a good team,’" said DeMarcus Ware, who had two sacks. "They score a lot of points, they don’t give up sacks, they run the ball. But we took their punch and figured them out."
Burned by misdirection on the opening drive, the Cowboys improved their gap control to stop the run, forcing Ryan to pass. Unable to set his feet, Ryan connected on just 19 of 35 for 198 yards with two TDs and two interceptions for a woeful 66.1 passer rating. He had gone four straight games without being sacked.
Cover Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. That's how you beat the Falcons. While TNew was on White and Mike Jenkins was throwing the other Mike Jenkins to the ground, a bunch of other guys were covering Tony G.
Strong safetycovered him, as did cornerback , inside linebacker and strongside linebacker .
In the end, the speedy White and the 6-foot-5 Gonzalez accounted for 10 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Scandrick did get the first interception of his career, but he was annoyed that he let Gonzalez get a catch on him.
"I let him catch a ball on me," Scandrick said. "I was mad about that. But it’s Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends. I just played him to the inside, and he had leverage on me."
"The last thing I was told by one of the Atlanta coaches was, 'It's a young man's game,' " said Brooking, the Falcons' longtime defensive leader-turned-linebacker, with a lopsided grin. "I guess that old man can still play."
"There are a lot of people in that organization that mean a lot to me and I will always keep in touch with," he said. "Some very good friends. I was talking a little bit of trash to them, so I had to go and apologize for it. Sometimes I do get a little bit out of control."
That was understandable given the defense's performance against his old team. Dallas heldto 2.8 yards per rush while sacking usually untouchable Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan four times.
"Atlanta prides themselves on being physical, but they didn't outphysical us today," he said. "We took it to them. We bloodied their noses, and then we stepped on them and kicked them to the ground. So that's a good feeling."
The Cowboys decided to play nose tackle Junior Siavii earlier in the game than usual and that seemed to help starter. Siavii did a really nice job against Michael Turner and he helped collapse the pocket against Matt Ryan. He said it was his goal for the defense's production not to fall off while he was on the field -- and I'd say he accomplished that.
After yesterday's game, a big roar was heard from the locker room. It was the players reacting to Coach Phillips telling them to take Monday off. Calvin Watkins thinks that a "Victory Monday" sends a bad message to the team.
Just because the team won Sunday, it doesn't mean things are fine. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said there are corrections to be made on offense. And the defense, as good as it played, allowed Falcons backup running backto average 9.7 yards per carry. had a good game with two touchdowns, yet he fumbled a ball out of bounds on his way to the end zone. Roy Williams had two drops, and the offensive line struggled to open holes at the start of the game.
Many of the players showed up at Valley Ranch today, anyways.
"We had 45 guys already," the coach said at his early afternoon press conference. "It's just the day off from us meeting where we go over the tape with them. Tomorrow we'll go over the same tape with them except we'll leave out the good plays."
"So it's really not a great deal for them, because they don't get to cheer the good plays that they made. We go over all the mistakes that we made and things we need to work on."
"Worst game ever in my life," said Williams, who caught one pass for 16 yards.
He was most upset with two dropped passes and a pass interference penalty that wiped out a catch. This was the fourth time Williams has caught just one pass since coming to the Cowboys in the trade from Detroit last year. He had four games with one or no catches in 60 games with the.
Austin's 171 yards is the second-highest performance immediately following a 250-yard game in league history. It's the most yards by a Cowboys receiver following a 200-yard output.
"It's exciting, but I know I have to keep working hard," Austin said. "We just have to build off of this. I can't relax or anything. I have to work even harder now. I know people will be looking at me even more. That's fine. I'm not going to change anything or my approach."
"First, the kind of kid Miles is, I couldn’t be happier for him" said tight end. "Second, I couldn’t be happier for our offense, to see this kind of weapon emerge. "Today, we were kind of lagging there on offense. Not doing a lot. Then boom. [Offensive coordinator] Jason [Garrett] made a great call, Tony threw a great ball, and Miles catches it, shakes loose, and he’s on his way, and we’re on our way."
Witten was referring to a second-quarter bomb that Romo dropped on Austin after a DeMarcus Ware bull-rush and hand-slap that caused Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to lose a fumble.
Witten's five catches for 53 yards has him moving up the all-time TE record books.
Jason Witten's 53 receiving yards today upped his career total to 5,247 to move him past Frank Clarke (5,214) for fifth on Dallas' all-time receiving yards chart.
Witten's 53 yards today allowed him to pass Brett Jones (5,195), Dave Casper (5,216) and John Mackey (5,236) for 18th all-time among league tight ends with 5,247.
Witten caught five passes in today's game to give him 462 for his career and move him past Todd Christensen (461) and tie with Mickey Shuler for ninth on the NFL's all-time tight ends receptions list.
Just some fun nuggets.
The win gave Dallas its fifth consecutive win following a bye, upped its record after a bye to 16-5 overall and 7-1 at home. ... Romo threw for 311 yards, upping his club record to 19 career 300-yard outings. The club is now 16-3 when Romo throws for 300-or-more yards.