But the Cowboys could not stop the Falcons in crunch time after the Cowboys’ offense finally found the end zone with 5:21 remaining and cut a fourth-quarter deficit to 16-13.
Instead, defensive back Orlando Scandrick had two critical mistakes that helped prolong the Falcons’ game-clinching drive.
Scandrick missed a tackle on a third-and-six completion to running back Jacquizz Rogers that went for 31 yards. Moments later, Scandrick was called for defensive holding on an overthrown pass to receiver Roddy White.
The penalty allowed Atlanta to convert a third-and-8 situation on a drive that saw the Falcons grind down the clock before kicker Matt Bryant’s 32-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining upped the final margin to 19-13.
The Falcons’ final drive covered 12 plays and 66 yards and consumed 5:04 at a time when the Cowboys (3-5) desperately needed to get off the field as soon as possible.
After the game, Scandrick took full responsibility for the final-drive failures.
“I let everyone down. Myself. My teammates,” said Scandrick. “I’m not a young player. There’s no excuses. I take full accountability.”
Scandrick, a fifth-year pro, called the fourth-quarter miscues “a very humbling experience.”
“It was just two bad plays at the end,” Scandrick said. “I take it worse than anybody. It’s killing me inside. It’s going to kill me for a while.”
On the missed tackle, Scandrick said: “That’s a play I’m capable of making. I let everyone down.”
On the third-down holding penalty, Scandrick said: “I was competing. The game was on the line ... I can’t make that mistake.”
_ Jimmy Burch