Yet by the end of the day, thanks to a wild onside kick and last-second field goal, the Cowboys walked away with a 40-39 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Greg Zuerlein’s onside kick, game-winner
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott ran in a touchdown with just less than two minutes left — which marked his third rushing score of the game — bringing them back within two points.
Out of timeouts, however, the Cowboys were forced to go for the onside kick.
New Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein executed it perfectly, and the Falcons seemingly froze as it happened.
Zuerlein dribbled the ball out to the left sideline, and five Falcons players. watched as the ball went 10 yards, leading to the Cowboys pouncing on it.
Prescott then found wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for a 24-yard gain, bringing the Cowboys into Falcons territory. After a pair of Ezekiel Elliott runs, Zuerlein came back out to make the 46-yard field goal — winning the game for the Cowboys.
Cowboys bounce back after costly mistakes
Dallas couldn’t hold on to the ball in the first quarter.
The Cowboys fumbled four times in the period — losing three of them — to fall into a fast 20-point hole, marking the most opening-quarter points they’ve given up since 1985. Prescott lost the ball after taking a hit in the pocket, and both Elliott and tight end Dalton Schultz fumbled to set up Falcons scores.
The Cowboys finally found the end zone in the second quarter after Elliott capped a drive with a 1-yard score, and twice more in the third after Prescott ran the ball in twice himself.
While his scores cut the game to just five, the Falcons pushed back fast.
Matt Ryan led an 11-play, 74-yard drive and found receiver Russell Gage for an 8-yard touchdown on the next drive, and then led the Falcons down the field again for a field goal to take a 15-point lead midway through the fourth — all but sealing the deal to nearly hand Dallas its second straight loss.
Yet a 10-yard touchdown grab from Schultz and Prescott’s third rushing touchdown brought the game back within two — setting up Zuerlein’s heroics.
By the end, they had scored 16 points in the final 5:02 of the game to grab the win.
Dallas’ big offensive day
Outside of the mistakes, Dallas had a solid day offensively.
Prescott went 34 of 47 through the air for 450 yards and had a touchdown. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to record three rushing touchdowns with more than 400 passing yards, too.
Both Lamb and Amari Cooper recorded more than 100 receiving yards, and Schultz had 88 yards on nine receptions. Elliott had 89 yards and a score on the ground on 22 carries.
While Ryan had an impressive day himself — he went 24 of 36 for 273 yards with four touchdowns — the Falcons had 190 fewer total offensive yards than the Cowboys. They didn’t have a single turnover on the day, either, which made them the first team since 1933 to put up 39 or more points without any turnovers and still lose, according to ESPN. 1933 was the first year team turnovers were tracked.
Though there were plenty of issues to be worked out, the Cowboys avoided falling to 0-2 and bounced back from their Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
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