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DeadmaN 10-26-2009 11:29 AM

FOX Sports: This is the Cowboys team we expected
This is the Cowboys team we expected

by Howie Long

Well, the Dallas Cowboys we thought we'd see in September finally showed up in October. It was a very impressive win over the Atlanta Falcons, a team I said in the pregame show has a coaching staff that squeezes every ounce of talent out of their team.

The Cowboys won going away, 37-21, and that was pretty remarkable, considering the Falcons' opening scoring drive, where they drove the length of the field, taking 16 plays and over seven minutes to score first. It looked like the same old Cowboys.

But Dallas came back, thanks to its defensive front. That unit, with some help from the special teams, won this game. They put constant pressure on Matt Ryan, sacking him four times, forcing three fumbles (one recovered) and two interceptions. Ryan entered the game having only been sacked twice in his first five games.

The Cowboys were also impressive with their balanced offense, with 28 rushes and 29 Tony Romo passes. The running game, even with the return of Felix Jones, struggled, but Romo found his rhythm and played his best game of the season. He took off and secured some drives with some first-down scrambles while completing 21 of 29 for 311 yards and three touchdowns.

Romo's new best friend, Miles Austin, got behind Atlanta's secondary for two touchdowns and finished with 171 yards in his first start. This is the same Austin who scored twice, including in overtime, to beat the Chiefs.

Before the bye, Dallas survived in a pretty shaky win in Kansas City. And by beating Atlanta, they finally beat a team with a winning record. It could end up being a pivotal win when deciding playoff berths. I also liked that they were very aggressive on defense, willing to put their bodies on the line. Rookie Michael Jenkins may end up being fined for his helmet hit on a Falcons receiver, but this is football and it will show future opponents that the Cowboys are willing to hit you.

I didn't like the eight penalties, but Dallas is in position to make a little run. They have Seattle, Washington and Oakland around two road games in Philadelphia and Green Bay. This team looks like it has a chance to do just that.

This is the Cowboys team we expected - NFL News - FOX Sports on MSN

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