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NFL: Cowboys try to get offense back on track vs. Falcons

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The Dallas Cowboys were one of the top offensive teams in the NFL over their first seven games but that high-octane attack is now looking to emerge from stall mode.

Dallas tries to rev things back up and rebound from its worst offensive outing of the season when it hosts the Atlanta Falcons (4-4) on Sunday.

The Cowboys (6-2) had Dak Prescott back at quarterback after a one-game injury absence but never found a groove in last weekend’s 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Dallas was shut out for the first 55-plus minutes before finding the end zone twice and possessed the ball for just 18 minutes, 48 seconds.

“We want to dig every piece of this thing, because obviously it’s a copycat league,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said, mindful the Falcons will study Denver’s tactics. “Everyone is going to copy that formula, so you’d better have an answer for every single thing that came up in that game. You’re bound to see it in the coming weeks.”

Dallas was held to 290 yards but still leads the NFL at 434.3 yards per game. The Cowboys rank third in scoring at 30.1 points per outing.

Prescott had completed at least 63.6 percent of his passes in each of his first six appearances of the season. Against the Broncos, he connected on just 48.7 percent (19 of 39) while passing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Prescott is adamant that there won’t be a carryover effect against Atlanta.

“It doesn’t take confidence away from us,” Prescott said. “It wasn’t about their confidence as much as it was just about our lack of execution in critical situations.”

Meanwhile, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will face the franchise he guided to the Super Bowl for the first time since he was fired as coach after five games of the 2020 season.

Four seasons earlier, Quinn’s Falcons owned a 25-point, third-quarter lead in the Super Bowl before collapsing and seeing Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to a 34-28 overtime victory.

Quinn was not in the mood to reminisce this week, not after his unit struggled against the Broncos.

“You guys saw the performance, so there is no time to take a stroll down memory lane,” said Quinn, who had a 43-42 record in five-plus seasons with the Falcons. “So I’ll be right where my feet are, right where I’m supposed to be going after it as hard as we can. Worry about the jerseys I coach now all throughout the week.”

Quinn will be game-planning against quarterback Matt Ryan, the franchise icon who helped him reach the Super Bowl.

Ryan, in his 14th NFL season, has passed for 2,157 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.

Ryan told reporters earlier this week that he has remained in touch with Quinn since the latter’s dismissal.

“I mean, listen, I love Dan,” Ryan said of his Quinn. “He’s an awesome person. He’s a great coach. I really enjoyed playing for him. And so, I wish him nothing but the best. But he knows what this week is about for both of us. It’s about trying to get a win.”

Ryan doesn’t see matching up against Quinn as either an advantage or disadvantage. He is aware that his former coach is highly aware of his strengths and weaknesses.

“I think it comes down to making plays on the field on Sunday,” Ryan said. “He’s got knowledge of my skill set for sure. I know some of the guys on their defense, too, and they know me and those kinds of things.”

Ryan passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns last week as the Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 27-25.

Atlanta defensive end Dante Fowler (knee) returned to practice Wednesday, but it is unclear whether he could be activated off injured reserve this week. Cornerback Kendall Sheffield (hamstring) and tight end Lee Smith (back) missed practice.

As for Dallas, left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) sat out practice and looks unlikely to return this week. He missed the Denver game.

–Field Level Media

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