Here are the grades, after reviewing the film on gamepass.nfl.com, for the Falcons after their gut-wrenching 22-19 loss to the Cowboys at the buzzer Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Run offense: Running back Tevin Coleman had some nice holes to run through, but only had eight carries for 58 yards. The Falcons needed to run him more. Ito Smith was held in check with 10 yards on six carries. The Falcons seem to have gotten away from running the stretch outside-zone plays. They are running more toss sweeps, fakes and reverse pitches and more flanker reverses. It may be because Devonta Freeman is out, but the stretch runs make the bootlegs and rollouts more effective. Wide receiver Marvin Hall, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley all had carries against the Cowboys. The Falcons averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry. Grade: B
Pass offense: The Falcons receivers did a good job of getting yards after the catch. The wide receivers amassed 106 of the 291 yards receiving after the catch, which was 36.4 percent of the passing yards. Julio Jones led the way with six catches for 118 yards and made a strong catch on the 34-yard touchdown grab. The pass protection was shaky in the first half as Ryan was sacked three times and hit six times. Falcons coach Dan Quinn was asked how the offensive line graded out for the Cowboys. “We played better as the game went along,” Quinn said. “I thought as the first half, went maybe too many hits. … I thought we played better as it went along, compared from the first half to the second half.” Grade: C-plus
Run defense: Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards on 23 carries and scored a touchdown. Cowboys right guard Zack Martin had himself a game. On Elliott’s touchdown run, he turned defensive tackle Terrell McClain inside. Cam Fleming double-teamed Vic Beasley and then climbed to block linebacker Foye Oluokun as Elliott was streaming through the big hole. Free safety Damontae Kazee missed his tackle attempt and Elliot powered on into the end zone. It was the second week in a row that Kazee missed a touchdown saving tackle. Martin started the game out strong, too. On second-and-7 from the Falcons’ 16 in the first quarter, Martin helped down on defensive tackle Jack Crawford and then climbed to linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to free Elliott for 12 yards. There wasn’t much the Falcons could do with a steady diet of Elliott. He’s special. For the most part, they tried to make him earn everything. The Cowboys averaged a strong 4.6 yards per game. Oluokun, who led the Falcons with 10 tackles, is coming along nicely. Grade: C-minus
Pass defense: The Falcons had a pass rush as they sacked Dak Prescott twice and had six quarterback hits. But when they needed some pressure late in the game to stop the final drive, they couldn’t get to the quarterback. On the key play to get in field goal range, Brooks Reed was fighting with a linemen while he had a clear path to Prescott, who’s out to his right. It was one of the missed opportunities that the Falcons talk about. Beasley had two sacks. “He finally wins a battle and gets a quarterback down,” Fox analyst Charles Davis said. Trufant had a big pass breakup on a pass intended for Amari Cooper on the first drive. After Cole Beasley dropped a touchdown pass, the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal. Isaiah Oliver had a nice pass breakup. Cooper was held to three catches for 36 yards. Grade: C-plus
Special teams: Matt Bryant returned and made three field goals. The Falcons passed on a 54-yard attempt, as they’d set the 36-yard line as the limit for Bryant, who was coming back from a hamstring injury. Under former coach Mike Smith, the line was the 35-yard line for Bryant. Passing on the potential three points was costly. Matt Bosher averaged 31 yards on two short punts. He placed both inside the 20. Grade B
Coaching: The Falcons tried to get after Prescott and make him beat them. They blitzed in third-and-medium situations, but with the game on the line he found Cole Beasley for a 19-yard gain to get them into field-goal range. The tackling is much improved, and the Falcons were swarming to Elliott, who did have a big day. The Falcons had a great game plan, but didn’t make the plays when the game was on the line. Grade B