First Quarter: Big First Drive

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Wow, that first drive by the Falcons was a clinic.

Funny how on Friday Falcons' Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey was being questioned about his team's slow starts the previous two games and had this to say: "If it stands out in people's minds, then it means we've been doing pretty good with it."

True, but the Falcons had yet to score a touchdown on an opening drive. Not any more. That was about as dominant as offense can be. The Falcons went 80 yards in 16 plays and ate up 7 minutes 52 seconds.

As Fox's Troy Aikman pointed out, what was most impressive was that the Falcons were a perfect 4-for-4 on third down conversions. Aikman predicted that the Falcons would throw more today against a mediocre Dallas secondary in his pregame commentary.

I'd say that Matt Ryan's only two incomplete passes on that drive were not a result of strong play by the Cowboys' secondary. One was on the attempted flea flicker – in Aikman's words Mularkey called the play to "test them out early and make sure the secondary isn't overplaying the run" – and the other was when Ryan threw the ball out of bounds near the goal line. Aikman pointed out how Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware dropped back into coverage, recognizing the play and neutralizing the call. That ended a streak of 143 straight pass attempts without a sack by the Falcons.

So after two drives, the total yards were: Dallas minus-1, Atlanta 80. Pretty good in the Falcons' favor, I'd say.

Here's what Aikman had to say if the Falcons' offensive line – which had not allowed a sack in its previous four games – keeps protecting as it did on the opening drive. "They keep getting that kind of time, Matt Ryan's going to have a big day."

So much for that. Marcus Spears and Ware sacked Ryan on consecutive plays on the Falcons' second drive. I guess that's why Offensive Line Coach Paul Boudreau is as superstitious as he is.

Falcons went to no-huddle on the second series *

Former Falcon Allen Rossum was hurt fielding the Falcons' kickoff after their touchdown on a big hit by Coy Wire. Patrick Crayton took his place on the second punt. Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver reported that it was a hamstring and that Rossum would probably not be back. *

Tony Romo's 17-yard scramble could turn out potentially to be a big play. Romo appeared to be shaken up. The Cowboys' back-up? Jon Kitna. Thomas DeCoud made the hit. Kitna was seen warming up on the sideline. *

Jason Snelling got the start, the third of his career and his second straight with Ovie Mughelli out. *

Aikman on the Falcons' running game. ""They haven't been able to run it with the same consistency [as last year], yet defenses still understand that they better be able to stop the running game or you're going to have some major problems." *

Michael Turner has only nine yards on six carries at the end of the quarter, though Snelling has 20 yards on three attempts. Aikman noted that the Falcons would not give up on the run. *


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