ATLANTA FALCONS FACTS
Since 1990, when a second wildcard was added to each conference, 92/123 teams that started 3-0 made the playoffs compared to 135/265 teams that started 2-1.
The Cowboys are 2-0 for the 25th time in club history. Of the previous 24 times, 20 of those resulted in playoff-qualifying seasons.
The last time the Cowboys were 2-0 was 2008, and they failed to make the postseason.
The Falcons are 2-0 for the ninth time in club history. 4/9 times the team ended up making the postseason.
Since 1970, 3/13 teams that started off the season with fourth quarter comebacks ended up making the playoffs.
Dallas has not lost their third regular season game since 2002, a whopping 12-game winning streak. In the same span, the Falcons are 6-6.
The Cowboys are 3-3 against the Falcons in September with a 2-2 record at home.
This is the second straight time the Cowboys have faced an undefeated Falcons team. Since 1966, Dallas has faced an undefeated Atlanta club three times: 1986, 2012, and 2015.
Since 2002, the Falcons are 6-15 in noon games played in the Central Time Zone. Atlanta is in the Eastern Time Zone.
This is the first early game in the series since Nov. 11, 2001 when the Falcons beat the Cowboys 20-13 in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta is already on a one-game winning streak against Dallas, having defeated the Cowboys 19-13 on Nov. 4, 2012. A win Sunday would give the Falcons their fourth two-game winning streak over Dallas. Comparatively, the Cowboys have put together five multi-game winning streaks against Atlanta.
BRANDON WEEDEN FACTS
Last week, Weeden set a career high in passer rating with a minimum of five attempts at 149.7.
When Weeden has had to fill in and complete a game, his teams go 2-1.
Weeden is 4-8 at home as a starter.
As a starter, Weeden has only had one 100-plus passer rating game: a 34-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on the road on Sept. 16, 2012.
As a starter, Weeden’s teams are 4-3 when they win the turnover differential compared to 1-13 when they do not.
As a starter, Weeden’s teams are 5-4 when they rush for 100 yards or more compared to 1-12 when they do not.
Against 4-3 fronts, Weeden has a 73.9 passer rating as a starter. He goes 22/37 for 262 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and takes two sacks on average.
Weeden’s 73.9 passer rating is .5 better than his career passer rating.
Since 1999, Weeden is the third different Cowboys quarterback to make a start against the Falcons at home.
The last designated backup quarterback to start for the Cowboys in Week 3 was Sept. 18, 2000 when Randall Cunningham filled in for Troy Aikman to defeat Washington 27-21 on Monday Night Football at FedEx Field.
MATT RYAN FACTS
Since 1960, Ryan is 1/14 quarterbacks to have started off the year with two fourth quarter comebacks.
Since 2008, Ryan has the most fourth quarter comebacks in the regular season and playoffs with 22. Only Tony Romo trails him with 21.
Ryan’s 93.8 passer rating is the third-lowest passer rating he has had threw the season’s first three games.
Ryan’s 93.8 passer rating through three games is also the 19th-best three-game start in Falcons franchise history.
Against the Tampa-2, Ryan has a 90.6 passer rating and an 18-4 record, including playoffs. On average, he goes 19/30 for 217 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and takes 1.5 sacks.
Against Rod Marinelli’s defenses, Ryan has a 90.3 passer rating and a 1-1 record. On average, he goes 20/30 for 245 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and takes three sacks.
Among quarterbacks taken since 1999, Ryan is one of the 5/18 quarterbacks taken within the first three picks of the draft to play in a conference title game.
Atlanta had made the playoffs 1/2 times that they have started 2-0 in the Matt Ryan era.
Ryan is 40-15 at home compared to 28-29 on the road.
Ryan is 4-24 on the road when his teams are trailing at halftime compared to 24-5 when they are tied or leading at the break.
Ryan is 38-5 when he has a passer rating of 100.0 or greater.
Ryan is 25-33 when he throws an interception compared to 42-15 when he does not.
Ryan is 50-36 when he gets sacked at least once.
The most times Ryan has been sacked by a Tampa-2 defense was six times on Nov. 29, 2009 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The most interceptions Ryan has thrown against a Tampa-2 defense was two on Dec. 5, 2010 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If the Falcons were to win Sunday, Ryan would join Doug Johnson, Scott Campbell, and David Archer as the only Atlanta quarterbacks to have beaten the Cowboys on the road.
JASON GARRETT FACTS
This is the first 2-0 start of Garrett’s career. The only two coaches in Cowboys history to start 2-0 and fail to make the playoffs were Tom Landry (1961, 1965, 1986) and Wade Phillips (2008).
Garrett has not gone 2-0 at home since 2013 when the Cowboys defeated the Giants to start the season and then the Rams in Week 3. Dallas would post a 5-3 home record that year.
In the Garrett era, the Cowboys are 4-0 in Week 3 games with a 3-0 record at home.
Garrett’s teams are 9-3 in noon games at AT&T Stadium.
Garrett is 5-5 with Tony Romo out of the lineup. The average margin of victory is 7.2 points while the average margin of defeat is four points.
Garrett has a 4-4 record against rookie head coaches.
Since 2010, Garrett has had to start five different quarterbacks.
The Falcons are 1/9 teams that Garrett has not yet defeated and 1/3 NFC teams he has not.
In 1998, Garrett filled in for an injured Troy Aikman, who fractured his collarbone in Week 2 on the road, and led the Cowboys to a 3-2 record in Aikman’s absence.
In 1993, filling in for an injured Aikman, Garrett started against the Phoenix Cardinals 20-15 win, going 2/6 for 25 yards before being replaced by another backup in Bernie Kosar. The next week against the Falcons, Kosar started over Garrett in a 27-14 loss in Atlanta.
DAN QUINN FACTS
Quinn is the second Falcons head coach to start 2-0 as a rookie head coach. The first was Jim Mora, Jr., whose 2-0 start propelled Atlanta into the playoffs as the NFC’s second seed.
All of Quinn’s wins have come against head coaches who have guided their teams to the postseason.
Quinn is 1/4 head coaches hired in 2015 that was once a defensive coordinator.
Quinn is a graduate of Salisbury University in Maryland which also is the alma mater of Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.
Quinn is the second straight Seahawks defensive coordinator to become a head coach in the NFL.
Quinn’s only experience against the Cowboys as the Seahawks defensive coordinator came last season in Dallas’ 30-23 win over Seattle at CenturyLink Field.
Quinn was the defensive line coach for the 2005-06 Miami Dolphins. That connects him with head coach Jason Garrett (quarterbacks coach), passing-game coordinator Scott Linehan (offensive coordinator), receivers coach Derek Dooley (tight ends), and Director of Pro Scouting Judd Garrett (offensive quality control).
Quinn is also connected to Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson. From 2007-08, Quinn served as the New York Jets defensive line coach as Henderson was the assistant secondary coach.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are once again the commentators as the Cowboys play on FOX. This is the third Falcons-Cowboys game Aikman has done color for while it is Buck’s second to do play-by-play for.
Dick Stockton and Al Michaels are tied for doing play-by-play for the most games in this series with three apiece. Aikman will take first place as most games as color analyst with three.
This is the 11th time that Buck and Aikman will call a Cowboys regular season game in consecutive weeks since their pairing in 2002.
The Falcons are 136-134 on FOX, including postseason and Super Bowl XXXIII.
This is the first Cowboys home game to be featured on FOX for 2015. The Cowboys are 12-9 in FOX home openers. Here are the results:
1994 – Cardinals, 38-3 – W
1995 – Cardinals, 34-20 – W
1996 – NYG, 27-0 – W
1997 – CHI, 27-3 – W
1998 – Cardinals, 38-10 – W
1999 – Cardinals, 35-7 – W
2000 – PHI, 14-41 – L
2001 – TB, 6-10 – L
2002 – NYG, 17-21 – L
2003 – ATL, 13-27 – L
2004 – NYG, 10-26 – L
2005 – PHI, 33-10 – W
2006 – TB, 38-10 – W
2007 – Rams, 35-7 – W
2008 – WAS, 24-26 – L
2009 – ATL, 37-21 – W
2010 – CHI, 20-27 – L
2011 – DET, 30-34 – L
2012 – TB, 16-10 – W
2013 – Rams, 31-7 – W
2014 – SF, 17-28 – L
PETE MORELLI FACTS
Pete Morelli is Sunday’s referee. The Cowboys are 9-5 with Morelli, including playoffs. Here are the results:
2003 – Cardinals, 24-7 – W
2003 – MIA, 21-40 – L
2004 – @MIN, 17-35 – L
2004 – DET, 31-21 – W
2005 – @SD, 28-24 – W
2005 – KC, 31-28 – W
2006 – NYG, 22-36 – L
2007 – @BUF, 25-24 – W
2007* – NYG, 17-21 – L
2008 – @Cardinals, 24-30 – L-OT
2010 – @Colts, 38-35 – W-OT
2011 – MIA, 20-19 – W
2014 – HTX, 20-17 – W-OT
2014 – DET, 24-20 – W
Under Morelli, the Cowboys have had fewer penalties 5/14 times:
2003 – Cardinals: 5/36; DAL: 7/64
2003 – MIA: 6/69; DAL: 5/50
2004 – MIN: 5/40; DAL: 9/119
2004 – DET: 10/112; DAL: 5/35
2005 – SD: 8/62; DAL: 8/46
2005 – KC: 3/17; DAL: 5/45
2006 – NYG: 3/24; DAL: 1/5
2007 – BUF: 5/49; DAL: 5/31
2007 – NYG: 3/28; DAL: 11/84
2008 – Cardinals: 12/70; DAL: 12/93
2010 – Colts: 3/28; DAL: 5/35
2011 – MIA: 6/55; DAL: 11/69
2014 – HTX: 5/35; DAL: 7/56
2014 – DET: 8/44; DAL: 6-46
Through two weeks, Morelli is 1/5 referees who has a .500 home team winning percentage:
Clete Blakeman: 1.000
Bill Vinovich: 1.000
John Parry: 1.000
Gene Steratore: 1.000
Terry McAulay: 1.000
Jeff Triplette: 1.000
Ed Hochuli: 1.000
Jerome Boger: .500
Carl Cheffers: .500
Craig Wrolstad: .500
Pete Morelli: .500
Walt Anderson: .500
Brad Allen: .000
Walt Coleman: .000
Tony Corrente: .000
John Hussey: .000
Ron Torbert: .000
Morelli is tied with three other referees for the absolute worst percentage of the home team having fewer penalties:
Tony Corrente: 1.000
Terry McAulay: 1.000
Brad Allen: 1.000
Clete Blakeman: .500
Bill Vinovich: .500
Jerome Boger: .500
John Parry: .500
Craig Wrolstad: .500
Gene Steratore: .500
Carl Cheffers: .500
Jeff Triplette: .500
Ed Hochuli: .500
Walt Anderson: .500
Walt Coleman: .000
Pete Morelli: .000
John Hussey: .000
Ron Torbert: .000
Atlanta is 4-5 when Morelli referees their games. Here are the results:
2004 – @TB, 0-27 – L
2005 – @DET, 27-7 – W
2007 – @Rams, 16-28 – L
2008 – DEN, 20-24 – L
2009 – @SF, 45-10 – W
2010 – GB, 20-17 – W
2011 – CAR, 31-17 – W
2014 – DET, 21-22 – L
2014 – @GB, 37-43 – L
With Morelli, the Falcons have had fewer penalties 6/9 times and are currently on a six-game streak:
2004 – TB: 3/32; ATL: 7/50
2005 – DET: 9/50; ATL: 11/84
2006 – Rams: 5/46; ATL: 8/45
2008 – DEN: 6/36; ATL: 5/36
2009 – SF: 8/92; ATL: 8/90
2010 – GB: 8/66; ATL: 4/50
2011 – CAR: 7/85; ATL: 4/57
2014 – DET: 8/85; ATL: 5/39
2014 – GB: 5/40; ATL: 3/11
In Morelli-reffed games, Dallas coaches are 2/2 on challenges compared to opposing coaches’ 2/4 and Replay Assistant’s 3/12. Furthermore, five of Morelli’s decisions on Replay Assistant challenges have benefited the Cowboys.
Under Morelli, the Falcons have won 2/2 challenges compared to the opposition going 1/2 on challenges. Replay Assistant is 3/5 with three of those calls benefiting Atlanta.
Since 2006, the only seasons Romo has not missed time are 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012. The Cowboys made the playoffs 2/4 of those seasons.
Kyle Shanahan has faced Rod Marinelli’s defenses twice before. His teams are 2-0 and put up 23 points, 21 first downs, 356 total yards, 221 passing yards, 136 rushing yards, two turnovers, and taking 2.5 sacks.
Falcons receiver Julio Jones has 22 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns, the best two-game start of his career and the second-best in Atlanta franchise history. Only Andre Rison’s 26 catches, 316 yards, and four touchdowns in 1994 was better.
Jones has only played one career game against the Cowboys. On Nov. 4, 2012, he caught five passes for 129 yards in the Falcons’ 19-13 win over Dallas.
Through seven games against Tampa-2 defenses, Jones averages six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons are 15-6 when Jones has 100 yards or more receiving.
Atlanta is 20-14 when Jones catches five or more passes.
The Falcons are 19-20 when Roddy White has 100 yards or more receiving.
Among 2015 rookie running backs, Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman is third among his class in attempts (29), fourth in yards (112), and tied for third in touchdowns (1) through two games.
The Falcons have not taken a first-round running back since T.J. Duckett in 2002, and they have only had six total in franchise history.
The last Falcons rookie running back to rush for 100 yards or more in a game was Jerious Norwood on Dec. 3, 2006 when he carried the ball nine times for 107 yards and a touchdown in a 24-14 win over Washington.
The last time a rookie running back had a 100-yard game against Dallas was Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy on Dec. 15, 2013 when he rushed 21 times for 141 yards and a touchdown in a 37-36 win.
The only game Jason Witten missed in his career was on Oct. 12, 2003 as the Cowboys beat the Eagles 23-21. Witten was sidelined with a broken jaw.
Since 2003, Witten has played with a broken jaw, bruised ribs, sprained ankles, concussion, tweaked knees, and a lacerated spleen.
This is the first time that Witten has appeared on the injury report since 2012 when he was listed as probable for Week 3 with his lacerated spleen.
The Cowboys have held the ball for approximately 38:50 per game, their largest time of possession average since 1983.
The Cowboys and Falcons join the Broncos and Panthers as the only teams in the top-10 of time of possession to have undefeated records thus far.
Dallas has sacked opposing quarterbacks at least once in the last seven games, including playoffs. They are 6-1.
With zero sacks last week against the Giants, the Falcons snapped a five-game streak of recording at least a sack.
The Cowboys are the only team in the top-10 for giveaways to have an undefeated record thus far.
The Falcons are tied with seven other teams for the fifth-fewest giveaways in the NFL.
The last time the Cowboys started the season without a 100-yard rusher through two games was 2013 when the team began 1-1.
The Cowboys and Falcons join the Broncos and Patriots as the only bottom-14 teams in the league to have less than 200 yards rushing through two weeks yet maintain an undefeated mark.
The last Falcons running back to have a 100-yard rushing game was Steven Jackson on Nov. 30, 2014 when he carried the ball 18 times for 101 yards in a 29-18 win over Arizona.
Atlanta has not had a back go for 100 yards or more against them since Sept. 28, 2014 when Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon carried the ball 18 times for 135 yards.
The Cowboys haven’t had a 100-yard receiver since Dez Bryant on Dec. 14, 2014 in the team’s 38-27 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The only 100-yard receiving game of Terrance Williams’ career came on Oct. 6, 2013 in the Cowboys’ 51-48 heartbreaking loss to the Broncos.
After Week 1, the Cowboys were tied for the second-fewest penalties in the league with three. After Week 2, Dallas is tied with Oakland for third-most with 21.
Dallas and New England are the only teams in the top-10 in penalties to have undefeated records.
The Cowboys and Falcons are both tied with five other teams for 14th-most takeaways in the NFL with three.
The last time and the only time the Cowboys won their first two September home games was in 2013 when they beat the Giants in Week 1 and dispatched the Rams in Week 3.
New Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel has only played the Atlanta Falcons once. On Sept. 9, 2012, the Falcons beat the Kansas City Chiefs 40-24 at Arrowhead Stadium. Cassel went 21/33 for 258 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and was sacked three times.
Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong was the special teams coach on the 1988 Miami Hurricanes, the last year Jimmy Johnson was the head coach.
Since 1960, 1/14 quarterbacks have started off the year with a fourth quarter comeback. One of those other 14 quarterbacks is Atlanta’s Steve Bartkowski.
The Cowboys are 3-2 on 9/27. Here are the results:
1964 – @PIT, 17-23 – L
1970 – NYG, 28-10 – W
1981 – NYG, 18-10 – W
1998 – Raiders, 12-13 – L
2004 – @WAS, 21-18 – W
The Cowboys have six birthdays to celebrate on Sept. 27:
Fred Doelling, DB, 1960 – 9/27/1938
Syd Kitson, OG, 1984 – 9/27/1958
Robert Jones, LB, 1992-95 – 9/27/1969
Alonzo Spellman, DT, 1999-00 – 9/27/1971
Oliver Ross, OG, 1998 – 9/27/1974
Aaron Gibson, OT, 2001-02 – 9/27/1977