Report card: Falcons 27, Cowboys 7

Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 27-7 victory over the Cowboys before a crowd of 73,761 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.

The Cowboys were playing their first game without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn turned in a dominating six-sack performance against Dallas backup left tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell.

Running back Devonta Freeman was knocked out of the game with a concussion early in the first quarter.

The Falcons improved to 5-4 and the Cowboys dropped to 5-4.

Run offense: Freeman was pummeled by Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens on the offense's second play of the game. He suffered a concussion and did not return. He spent two weeks in the concussion protocol during the exhibition season. Tevin Coleman took over for Freeman and had a 1-yard touchdown run when he got in behind defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who lined up at fullback. Coleman had 22 yards at the half, but busted a 17-yarder on the Falcons' first play of the third quarter. Terron Ward backed up Coleman. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel had 15 yards on a reverse. Coleman rushed 20 times for 83 yards. Ward had six carries for 22 yards. Grade: B-plus

Pass offense: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was under duress from Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, was efficient. He tossed his eighth interception in the first quarter after the ball clanked off Mohamed Sanu's hands and popped up in the air. The pass was intercepted by Dallas cornerback Xavier Woods. Ryan tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hardy in the back of the end zone to finish off an 11-play, 75-yard drive to start the third quarter. It was the Falcons first offensive third-quarter touchdown this season. In order to slow down Dallas' pass rush, the Falcons threw a slew of screens and quick passes. Ryan tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper in the fourth quarter. Ryan completed 22 of 29 passes for 215 yards, two touchdown and the interception. The Falcons were able to rest wide receiver Julio Jones in the fourth quarter. Grade: B-plus

Run defense: A week after giving up a season-high 201 yards rushing to the Panthers, the Falcons were stout against the run. They held the Cowboys running backs Alfred Morris and Rod Smith in check. Quarterback Dak Prescott broke loose a couple of times, including an 11-yard touchdown run. The Cowboys appeared lost without runnin gback Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended by the league and had exhausted his legal measures. Grade: A

Pass defense: Clayborn had six sacks and several quarterback hits as he abused Green, who was playing for Tyron Smith, who was out with back and groin injuries. Clayborn tied Falcons Chuck Smith and Claude Humphrey for most sacks in a game.  The Cowboys started throwing mostly to Dez Bryant, but he was shut down. Desmond Trufant had near interception and had one nullified by a penalty. Grade: A

Special teams: Matt Bryant made field goals of 50 and 29 yards. Punter and kickoff specialist Matt Bosher was strong and returner Andre Roberts was solid. Dallas tried a fake punt and completed the pass, but wide receiver Brice Butler was called for offensive pass interference. Grade: B-plus

Coaching:  The Falcons came out ready to play in an important NFC matchup. The Falcons, who are chasing the Saints and the Panthers in the NFC South, needed to get the win over the Cowboys to secure the head-to-head playoff tie breaker. The defense rebounded and the offense clicked with Coleman shouldering the rushing load with Freeman out. Grade: A

Next up: The Falcons (5-4) travel to play the Seahawks (6-3) at 8:30 p.m. Monday at CenturyLink Field.