FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- In their first home game in nearly a month, the Falcons (5-4) put together a dominant performance to secure a 27-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The win started off the back half of the season on a positive note for the Falcons, but Dan Quinn said in his post-game press conference that they are ready to get back to work for another tough upcoming matchup against the Seahawks.
Today's Early Bird Report includes some thoughts on the Falcons' big win as well as a look at some of the other games around the NFC South.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
NFL.com: Adrian Clayborn's sacks power Falcons past Cowboys
While there was plenty to like about the Falcons' performance on Sunday, defensive end Adrian Clayborn was the obvious standout. The seventh-year defender set a single-game franchise record with six sacks against the Cowboys. NFL.com' Nick Shook discussed Clayborn's evening in his thoughts from the victory.
Shook first noted that Dallas' offense looked like a shell of itself without running back Ezekiel Elliott and starting left tackle Tyron Smith. In addition to highlighting Clayborn's day, Shook explained that Brooks Reed and De'Vondre Campbell were also among the defenders who made the Falcons' defense so tough on Sunday. He also praised the performances of Matt Ryan, who he says was "electric," and Tevin Coleman.
*Atlanta Journal-Constitution: *Cowboys bring out well-hidden best in Falcons
Although Sunday marked just the first game of the second half of the season for the Falcons, the AJC's Steve Hummer wrote that it had "that uneasy feel of an elimination game." While that might seem a bit pessimistic, Atlanta certainly played with great urgency. The Falcons put together their most complete performance of the season, rolling in all three phases of the game, and provided reasons to believe they can find their stride in the coming weeks.
Hummer concluded his column by saying: "Beating the Cowboys is never a bad thing. It is something to be savored, as if pulling a fast one on any major utility. But beating the Cowboys like this, during a season of doubt like this, is just about the best possible way to spend a Sunday."
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Seattle Seahawks
ESPN.com:* *Seahawks violated NFL concussion protocol with Russell Wilson
According to an ESPN source, the Seattle Seahawks violated the NFL's concussion protocol during their Thursday night victory against the Arizona Cardinals by allowing quarterback Russell Wilson to re-enter the game without going to the locker room and being cleared by both a team doctor and an independent physician after he was forced to leave the field by an official.
"The Seahawks are expected to face consequences because once an official removed Wilson from the game to be examined, the star quarterback was required to go through the protocol, and he did not," ESPN insider Adam Schefter writes.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
NFL.com: Saints put NFC on notice with rout of Buffalo Bills
While the Falcons' win over the Cowboys was certainly notable, the Saints' 47-10 victory on the road against the Bills was eye-opening. According to NFL.com's Judy Battista, New Orleans put the rest of the NFC on notice with the win. The Saints have now won seven straight, and they have done so with a complete performances in all phases of the game. New Orleans gained 482 yards of offense, including 298 yards on the ground, and held Buffalo to just 198 total yards.
*Tampa Bay Times: *Defense and field goals allow Bucs to snap five game losing streak
The Buccaneers' 15-10 victory over the Jets wasn't the prettiest, but it snapped a five-game losing streak and Tampa Bay did so without starting quarterback Jameis Winston and star receiver Mike Evans. According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times*, *the Buccaneers earned the win behind a good defensive performance and a 3-for-3 effort from kicker Patrick Murray. Tampa Bay held New York to 275 yards of offense, registered six sacks and forced two turnovers.
MORE FROM ATLANTAFALCONS.COM