Mike McCarthy logs first win with Cowboys after stunning comeback

Mike McCarthy has won in dramatic fashion at AT&T Stadium before. His first victory as the Cowboys coach might prove to be more memorable. It was definitely more improbable.

Dallas trailed by 20 points in the first half, 15 with five minutes remaining and nine with less than two minutes remaining. It was still enough time for the Cowboys, who scored three times late in the fourth quarter and recovered an onside kick en route to a 40-39 win over the Falcons on Sunday.

The comeback tied for the second biggest in McCarthy’s 14-year head coaching career, behind a 23-point rally against the Cowboys … at AT&T Stadium.

“I had one on the other sideline, but it’s not like this,” the former Packers coach said, per ESPN.

Jerry World was also the site of McCarthy’s Super Bowl XLV triumph. The Cowboys’ home opener involved the pressure of potentially falling to 0-2 in his debut season, something he experienced in Green Bay just once — in Year 1 (2006). Greg Zuerlein’s 46-yard field goal as time expired guaranteed otherwise. Dallas scored 30 points in the second half, chipping away at their large deficit on all but one drive.

Before the end of the first quarter, the Cowboys trailed the Falcons 20-0.

“We dug ourselves such a big hole in the first quarter and I just think the way the guys rallied and just kept going,” McCarthy said. “Especially since it’s a young season, we’re early in the process of our football team finding out about each other each and every day. So, it’s a big chunk of confidence that we’ll carry forward. I’m very proud of the team. I’m very proud of everybody. I can’t say enough about the way our players kept playing.”

McCarthy kept coaching, aggressively. Trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys opted to go for it on fourth-and-5 from their own 40. A Falcons stop set up a field goal to increase the margin to 15. Dallas responded with a quick touchdown drive and McCarthy called for a two-point attempt that failed, leaving his team down two possessions late in the final frame. The Falcons became the first club since 1933, when team turnovers were first tracked, to lose after scoring 39 points and not hand the ball over once (441 games), per NFL Research.

All of it made victory that much more sublime for the Cowboys’ new coach, who won for the fifth time in a row at AT&T Stadium.

“Let’s keep that going,” he said. “It’s a great place.”

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