Falcons, Cowboys tied 6-6 at halftime

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 04, 2012
The unbeaten Atlanta Falcons got off to a sluggish start against the Dallas Cowboys before Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal forced a 6-6 tie at halftime on Sunday night. Beginning a drive at the 12-yard line with 1:03 left in the second quarter, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed a 20-yard pass to Roddy White and a 22-yarder to Tony Gonzalez to set up the field goal. Dallas entered the game at 3-4, had lost three of four and was coming off a home loss to the New York Giants last week. But the Cowboys had the early upper hand against Atlanta, which began the night 7-0 and was the NFL's last unbeaten team. The Falcons seemed to have few answers for outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratiff, stalwarts of Dallas' defense who were pushing back Atlanta's offensive line and collapsing the pocket around Ryan. Midway through the second quarter, Ware sacked Ryan for a 7-yard loss and caused a fumble, but Falcons receiver Roddy White kept the possession alive by falling on the ball at the Dallas 48. Ratliff was punishing the interior of Atlanta's offensive line before walking off the field with an undisclosed injury late in the second. The Falcons struggled throughout the first quarter. After their offense went three-and-out on the first possession, Dallas' Dwayne Harris returned a punt 37 yards. He could've scored a touchdown had Mike Peterson, a 14th-year veteran linebacker playing special teams, not made an open-field tackle. Dallas went ahead 3-0 six plays later on Dan Bailey's 23-yard field goal, but the damage could have been worse. Quarterback Tony Romo could have run for a 5-yard touchdown on third-and-goal, but instead lofted an incomplete pass outside the reach of Cole Beasley in the left corner of the end zone. Atlanta followed with a seven-play drive that included a 38-yard catch down the left sideline by Julio Jones. The Falcons stalled, though, when linebacker Bruce Carter stuffed Jacquizz Rodgers for a 1-yard loss up the middle and Bryant missed a 37-yard field goal attempt wide right. The Cowboys went up 6-0 on their next possession. Romo avoided pressure on his left side to step up and convert a third-and-20 when Kevin Ogletree ran past Robinson and made a 65-yard catch to the Atlanta 14. Three plays later, Bailey's 32-yard field goal made it 6-0. Ryan completed 12 of 17 for 155 yards in the first half. Romo was 10 of 17 for 153 yards. Dallas was playing without running back DeMarco Murray, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right foot. Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was sidelined by a sprained right ankle, and defensive tackle Peria Jerry left with a knee injury in the second quarter. Jerry's return was questionable. Atlanta, which was coming off a 30-17 victory last week at Philadelphia that was one of its most complete under fifth-year coach Mike Smith, cut the lead to 6-3 on Bryant's 45-yard field early in the second quarter. Bailey missed a 54-yarder wide left on Dallas' ensuing possession.
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