The Dallas Cowboys always seem to have a show. Sometimes they play as good as many think they can, but other times they turn the ball over six times while keeping the game close en route to a loss.
The second scenario happened last week for the Cowboys, the Falcons' Week 9 opponent, as they went down to the Giants 29-24. The Cowboys and QB Tony Romo threw for 437 yards in the loss and Romo's three biggest targets on the field were a big part of it.
Tight end Jason Witten has a reputation of his own. Behind Atlanta's own Tony Gonzalez, Witten is widely considered one of the most consistent tight ends in the game. Their top two wide receivers, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, chipped in 243 yards receiving between the two of them.
Some fans will remember Austin as the guy who grabbed 171 yards and two touchdowns the last time the Falcons and Cowboys met, a 37-21 handling of the Falcons in 2009.
With the early loss of Brent Grimes, the Falcons and Mike Nolan have had to adjust their earlier plan. Instead of the strong presence in the slot that Dunta Robinson was planning to provide, he's moved back to the opposite side of Asante Samuel. They seem to have a found a diamond in the rough with third-year veteran Robert McClain. The injury against Denver for Chris Owens put McClain on the field and he's responded well. He already has one interception, a fumble recovery and his three pass deflections seemed to have been in big moments.
The three of them at cornerback have run the gauntlet of receiver styles so far in the 2012 season. The Falcons pass defense this season is ranked 10th in the league, giving up 216.9 yards per game. For the most part they've been allowed to play a physical style that has helped them slow or shut out some receivers. On Wednesday, Robinson said he felt the Cowboys receiving team may be their most physical matchup yet.
"The guys we'll face Sunday are one of the best receiving corps," Robinson said. "They may be the biggest, most physical set of playmakers that we'll see so it's definitely a challenge for Asante and I and Rob in the slot. They have weapons all over the field. We've been in enough situations where we understand that you're going to face great receivers on certain Sundays. We feel like we've faced a lot so far. They're just another bunch of guys that we've got to go play against."
Dallas' top three pass catchers have combined for 1,536 yards receiving and seven touchdowns this season. They also have a talented third wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree, who hasn't been involved much lately, but is capable of a big game. Of his 248 yards receiving this season, 114 yards (and both touchdowns) came in Week 1's win over the Giants.
Robinson singled out the Broncos as a unit that he believed was a highly physical group. Physical play or not, the entire secondary will be watching for anywhere Romo throws the ball. The 13 interceptions thrown by Romo lead the league and Atlanta's 10 interceptions are tied for second in the league. Robinson said they approach every team or individual opponent like he will have the best game of his life and because of this they feel they're always prepared, physical or not.