For a while there, it looked like the Cowboys had solved puzzle defending Atlanta Falcons dynamic receiver Julio Jones.
He had just three catches for 27 yards in the first half with cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox making highlight-reel worthy pass deflections against him.
But Jones exploded in the second half with nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns to fuel the Falcons 39-28 victory.
“In the first half, we did a goo job of trying to neutralize number 11…In the second half, we just allowed him to get it going,” cornerback Brandon Carr said.
It’s not like the Cowboys weren’t prepared to stop Jones. They doubled him. They rolled coverage to his side. They played with a safety over the top.
The Falcons just made adjustments and got him the ball just as they did the first two games against the Eagles and Giants when he caught 22 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns in both games combined.
“I though it was going to keep going the way it was going…But they adjusted to what we were doing,” Claiborne said. “They put him [Julio Jones] in different spots. They motioned him a lot, moved him in different spots…A lot of underneath routes to beat the man coverage with picks underneath. You’ve got to know where he [Julio Jones] is at all times…We’ve just got to do a better job of knowing where the big time players are at all times.”
Jones finished with 12 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He had a 45 yard touchdown catch and a nicely-designed 2-yard score when he motioned from left to right and caught the ball inside the pylon.
“That guy [Julio Jones] is one of the best,” rookie safety Byron Jones said. “We knew going into the game that he was a legitimate threat.”
Owner Jerry Jones compared him to injured Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in his ability to be dominant against double coverage and leave defenders frustrated and deflated.
Jones has 34 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns in three games this season.
“Well, you always go over and say, ‘Why don’t you just cover him with the team?’ OK, that leaves everybody else open,” Jones said. “You’d like for him to drop the ball. You’d like for him to be able to fools around and catches one and falls down. He gets on his back and still catches the ball. He’s a great player, but we knew that coming in. It doesn’t surprise me that we’re sitting here talking about how his play is a big difference out there. He not only can make great plays, but he’s also very efficient. He doesn’t drop balls. He runs great routes. He’s really, he’s a great receiver. Dez is, it’s a compliment to both of them to be compared with each other. That’s a compliment to Dez. But I give Dez all his due as well. This guy’s, I’ve seen him in three games now, and he’s the difference in all three of them.