ARLINGTON, Texas — Dan Quinn last week downplayed the significance of what it meant to play against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, but after the Dallas Cowboys‘ convincing 43-3 win Sunday, the defensive coordinator received a game ball.
“It’s good to have that game done and over with,” Quinn said. “More than anything, when you, like any team that you [have been with], a lot of friends you have, you go and battle. It’s the fun part of the NFL. There’s always good rivalries between coaches and players. There’s a lot of guys on that roster and in the building I certainly care about a lot.”
Quinn coached the Falcons for parts of five seasons, posting a 43-42 record, and took Atlanta to Super Bowl LI only to give up a 28-3 lead and lose to the New England Patriots in overtime.
He was fired last year after an 0-5 start that included a 40-39 loss to the Cowboys.
“He didn’t talk about it, but we kind of read each other’s minds,” Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs said. “We know what’s going on. We played hard, played tough. We’ve got to do that every game, but this just happened to be his old team.”
Last week, Quinn’s defense was roughed up by the Denver Broncos for 190 rushing yards, allowed 8 of 15 third-down conversions and failed to generate a takeaway. Against the Falcons, the Cowboys allowed a season-low in points, just 214 yards and one third-down conversion in 11 tries, and intercepted three passes.
“Man, I don’t really think Q worried about the Atlanta Falcons,” linebacker Micah Parsons said. “I think Q just wanted to come out here and punch somebody in the mouth after last week. This is the first week I ever saw Q’s face turn red out in practice. I think this meant more for him being here for the Cowboys than it meant him trying to get some kind of agenda against Atlanta.
“He just wants to see us come out here, play up to the standard and look forward to next week. I’m pretty sure I saw a big smile on his face, so I’m happy we was able to please him. But he’s not worried about that old shit. He’s worried about what’s going on right now.”
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who played for Quinn during his tenure in Atlanta said he had a good relationship with his former head coach earlier this week. On Sunday, he made sure to seek out his old boss.
“I saw Dan briefly before the game and just gave him a hug and said ‘Good luck today,’ and I’ll catch up with you some point after,” Ryan said. “Dan, credit to them, credit to him and credit to their defense. He did a great job putting those guys in position to be successful and their guys made plays. I thought Dan coached a really good game.”
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.