“It’s the antithesis of what I felt this time last week,” Jones told reporters after the resounding 43-3 victory, per NBC5’s Pat Doney. “I thought the team, in general, responded. They’re proud of their response, as they should be.”
Seven days removed from an embarrassing home loss to Denver, the Cowboys looked night-and-day different in demolishing the Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Whereas nothing worked against the Broncos, everything worked versus the Dirty Birds.
Dak Prescott and the offense amassed 431 total yards of offense, with Prescott accounting for three scores (two passing, one rushing). Ezekiel Elliott also hit pay dirt twice and the special teams contributed a TD as Dallas produced 29 second-quarter points, a new franchise record, and built a 36-3 halftime lead, its biggest in any game since 1971.
“It was the most impressive point quarter that I’ve been associated with,” Jones said.
The underlying yet provocative storyline was Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn facing his former employer for the first time. Quinn, fired as Atlanta’s head coach last October, concocted a masterful game plan that limited veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to nine completions for 117 passing yards and two interceptions, and Ryan’s unit to a paltry 4.0 yards per play across 12 drives. The Falcons’ most explosive playmaker, running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, finished with 39 yards on five touches.
“We were well-coached today,” Jones said. “I just can’t say enough about Dan Quinn’s enthusiasm for playing against Atlanta, which is understandable for all of us. And I think the team took that on their shoulders a little bit and played with that attitude, as well.”
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Jones Cracks Joke About Dak’s Playing Time
Jones generated headlines last week by seemingly criticizing head coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to play Prescott, he of a freshly-healed calf strain, for the entirety of a blowout loss — unnecessary risk in meaningless garbage time.
Because winning cures all, however, Jones now appears much happier to address McCarthy’s handling of the $160 million QB, who gave way to backup Cooper Rush in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s slaughter, exiting with a stellar 127.9 passer rating.
“I thought the way we left him in last week, I thought the coach might leave Dak in the fourth quarter this week,” Jones joked to reporters, via ESPN’s Todd Archer. “That’s tongue in cheek, can y’all write that?”
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Zeke Critical of Lost Fumble
One of the few flaws befalling the Cowboys’ performance involved Elliott, who committed his first fumble in 244 touches, coughing up a third-quarter carry. Such mistakes plagued his 2020 campaign, and Elliott has worked hard to correct them, demonstrating solid ball security this season.
The former Pro Bowler described his effort against the Falcons as “solid” — he logged 41 rushing yards on 14 totes, and 15 receiving yards on three grabs — but critiqued his (temporary?) case of butterfingers.
“That’s something I’ve been doing well on this year,” Elliott said of the fumble, via the official team website. “Definitely gotta lock back in on my ball security. Their defense came out, they played good against the run. A lot of movement, they were pretty disruptive. We went out there and hit our plays.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL