Ryan was nearly picked off a couple of times, but Packers defensive backs Marwin Evans and LaDarius Gunter mistimed jumps late in the first half. Evans, especially, badly mistimed his jump on Ryan’s throw to the end zone. Evans, an undrafted rookie from Utah State, was only playing because fellow rookie Kentrell Brice, who played well last week against the Cowboys, was injured on the opening kickoff.
Instead of stopping the Falcons with a minute remaining in the half, the drive continued and ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with seven seconds to play in the second quarter.
The Falcons (13-5) picked up right where they left off against the Packers in October, when Mohamed Sanu scored the game-winning touchdown in a 33-32 victory. Sanu scored the first touchdown Sunday as the Falcons capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard flip from Ryan.
Doing most of the damage for the Falcons was Jones, who absolutely had his way with Gunter. Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards and two scores. He also drew multiple defensive holding calls on Gunter. Despite one of those holding calls, Gunter was still unable to stop Jones from exploding for a 73-yard touchdown on Atlanta’s second play from scrimmage in the second half to give the Falcons a 31-0 lead.
Ezekiel Elliott is just getting started for the Cowboys, and he’s already in elite company. Based on voting by his fellow NFL players, Elliott is Sporting News’ runaway Rookie of the Year for 2016.
He is the first Cowboys player to win SN’s award since Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett in 1977, and the third overall. The other winner also was a running back, Calvin Hill, in 1969. In the bigger picture, Elliott has a strong case as the best rookie running back of all time.