Ryan, Jones power Falcons past Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Matt Ryan and Julio Jones kept Atlanta rolling with help from fill-in running back Devonta Freeman.
The Dallas Cowboys failed their first test without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
Ryan and Jones connected for two touchdowns, Freeman ran for 141 yards and three scores, and the Falcons beat the Cowboys 39-28 on Sunday.
Freeman’s third score early in the fourth quarter capped a rally from a trio of 14-point deficits for the Falcons (3-0), who didn’t win their third game until Week 10 last year, and Week 13 in 2013.
Jones had his third straight 100-yard game to start the season, finishing with 164 and a clinching 2-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys (2-1) had a six-game winning streak in the regular season snapped in backup quarterback Brandon Weeden’s ninth straight loss as a starter.
With Tony Romo watching with a sling supporting his broken left collarbone, and Bryant also in street clothes because of a broken right foot, Weeden started 9 of 9 to push his streak of completions to 16 to start the season.
But the run ended with a second-quarter interception that turned the game in the Falcons’ favor.
Dallas running back Joseph Randle had 85 yards on his first three carries, including a 37-yard touchdown that helped the Cowboys to a 14-0 lead. He had just 2 yards on his next 11 runs, and the Cowboys had just three first downs in the second half after getting 20 before halftime.
Freeman had no trouble with the league’s No. 1 rushing defense, getting 89 yards in the second half as the Falcons scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to overcome a 28-17 deficit.
Atlanta gave itself a boost by driving to Matt Bryant’s 32-yard field goal in the final 40 seconds of the first half to get within 11. The only thing that stopped the Falcons in the second half was a holding penalty on a third-down conversion on the first possession, leading to a punt.
Weeden’s ill-advised throw while scrambling to his left was easily intercepted by William Moore, putting the Falcons on the Dallas 23. Freeman’s second score pulled them within a touchdown in the second quarter.
While Weeden rarely looked downfield after that turnover, Ryan and Jones got going after a slow start. Jones had 137 of his yards in the second half, including a 45-yard touchdown that quieted a crowd riled up by early success in the Dallas running game and the only sack of Ryan.
By the time the Falcons went ahead on Freeman’s third touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys and their No. 3 defense couldn’t keep up with Jones and weren’t getting any pressure on Ryan. He was 24 of 36 for 285 yards without an interception.
Weeden was 22 of 26 for 232 yards, but Cole Beasley was the only receiver to catch a pass. Randle finished with 87 yards rushing and three touchdowns, matching his total from last season when he was NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray’s backup.
Dallas running back Lance Dunbar had 10 catches for 100 yards, but several were futile attempts to get first downs in third-and-long situations.
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