The Dallas Cowboys trounced the Denver Broncos in last week’s Madden simulation. That was not what happened with the teams actually lined up against one another that Sunday. Why do I bring this up on an article about the Cowboys/Falcons sim? Because I really hope the sim is wrong again.
Simulation result: Falcons 35 - Cowboys 28
3. The Cowboys run defense was a major liability
Behind Cordarelle Patterson and Mike Davis, the Falcons had a field day on the ground. Patterson, in particular, averaged close to seven yards per carry and was a menace in the open field, which the Falcon offensive line gave him safe passage to routinely. Davis, punched in a pair of scores to really knock Dallas back on its heels and have them chasing for most of the day.
The balanced attack allowed for Matt Ryan, Kyle Pitts, and Tajae Sharpe to pick apart the secondary as Dallas tried to stack the box to stop the bleeding. Dallas might’ve sacked Ryan once early on, but his jersey stayed clean the rest of the way, giving the Cowboys no chance to generate the stops they needed to get back into the game.
2. The Cowboy offense stalled and things got bad very quickly
On their opening drive, Dak Prescott marched the Cowboy offense down the field, going 6/6 while finding Blake Jarwin (injured), Dalton Schultz, and Amari Cooper for big gains. That set the table for Ezekiel Elliott to punch in the first score of the day, giving the home team a 7-0 lead. After that drive, however, the well ran bone dry.
Dallas’ next drive stalled after a single first down, leading to a punt that allowed Atlanta to flip the field and then score their second touchdown of the day. On the following drive, Dallas went three and out, leading to another Falcon touchdown. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, down 21-7 at home with a minute and change before the half, Dak Prescott was intercepted at midfield. The Falcons, of course, turned this into another score, giving them a commanding 28-7 lead at the break.
While the offense found some rhythm in the second half thanks to Amari Cooper’s absurd play—more than 100 yards and two Hail Mary touchdowns—it was a case of too little, too late. Dallas attempted two onside kicks in the closing minutes, recovering neither as they fell to Atlanta.
1. Third down was a killer for Dallas
Defensively, the Cowboys gave up a half dozen conversions on third down on the day. It didn’t matter if it was 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-inches, or even 3rd-and-18; Atlanta found a way to move the chains and keep the drive marching. That allowed them to build an insurmountable lead before the half while the Dallas offense struggled.
Speaking of the offense, third down was almost equally cruel to them. While they did convert some 3rd-and-longs in the second half as they climbed back into the game, their repeated failure on third down throughout the first half kept their defense on the field as Atlanta’s momentum built and built to the point of becoming unstoppable. Or rather only cable of being stopped by the halftime whistle.
It was an ugly game for Dallas despite the second half rally that almost brought them back to even footing. Dak’s numbers looked great, but his handful of incompletions tended to come either on third downs or when he had an open receiver with a chance for a big play. In truth, if it weren’t for Cooper going off in the second half, Prescott’s day would have been quite pedestrian. And while Zeke did finish with a pair of touchdowns, he wasn’t able to control the game when running outside of goal line situations.
You can watch our entire Madden simulation of this week’s Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons game right here.
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