Going into Thursday’s game against the Saints, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said his team would have to treat every play like it was the Super Bowl if Dallas was going to win, and apparently, everyone on the roster got the memo.
In a Texas-sized upset, the Cowboys stunned the Saints 13-10 in a game in which Dallas never trailed. The Cowboys were able to pull off the shocker thanks to an impressive game from Dak Prescott and an absolutely dominating performance from their defense. As you’ll be able to see later in our piece, the win gives the Cowboys a tremendous boost in their odds to make the playoffs. And if they can beat the Eagles in Week 14, a game that you can stream on fuboTV (Try for free), their playoff odds would shoot up even more.
This game Thursday went down to the wire and wasn’t sealed until Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis picked off Drew Brees with 2:08 left to play.
It was fitting that the Cowboys defense clinched the win, because they shut down Brees and the high-flying Saints offense in a way that New Orleans had never been shut down before with Brees, who has been with the team since 2006. The Cowboys held the Saints to just 176 total yards, which was the lowest of the Brees-era and the lowest for the Saints in 17 years.
Instead of being intimidated by a Saints offense that went into Thursday night averaging an NFL-high 37.6 points per game, the Cowboys defense came out and punched New Orleans in the mouth, and the Saints never really recovered. Led by Jaylon Smith, Demarcus Lawrence and rookie Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys got off to a hot start by forcing the Saints offense to punt on three straight possessions to start the game.
The Cowboys were so dominant on defense that the Saints didn’t even pick up their first first down until the final play of the first quarter.
Although Dallas made plenty of huge plays in the first half, no play was bigger than the Cowboys’ goal line stand in the second quarter. After Amari Cooper lost a fumble, the Saints took over and drove down to the Cowboys’ 1-yard line, which set up one of the most dramatic plays of the game. On fourth-and-1, the Saints decided to go for it, and this is what happened.
Alvin Kamara was stuffed by Lawrence for no gain. The Saints had no answer for the Cowboys defensive end, who also had a sack and a forced fumble to go along with that tackle. The game went exactly the way Lawrence predicted it would during a somewhat profane interview earlier this week.
“If you hit a [expletive] in the mouth and then they ain’t doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed,” Lawrence said, via the Dallas Morning News. “Now, you got them where you want them at, and then you [expletive] choke their ass out.”
Those words must have inspired the Cowboys locker room, because that’s basically what happened. Not only did the Cowboys defense shut down Brees, but they did the impossible and shut down every offensive star on the Saints roster. Kamara finished with just 36 yards rushing while Mark Ingram only tacked on 27 yards. Things weren’t much better through the air as no Saints receiver topped 40 yards.
Jones wanted a Super Bowl-like performance, and that’s definitely what he got from his defense.
Not only did the Cowboys end the Saints’ 10-game winning streak, but they let the rest of the NFL know that they’re a team that could make some noise down the stretch.
Prescott almost perfect
Although the Cowboys defense carried the team against New Orleans, the win wouldn’t have been possible without the play of Dak Prescott. With the nation watching in primetime, Prescott outdueled Drew Brees with a performance that was nearly perfect. The Cowboys quarterback finished 24 of 28 for 248 yards and a touchdown, and he did all that despite the fact that he was facing heavy pressure for most of the game.
With starting left tackle Tyron Smith out for the second straight game, the Cowboys offensive line struggled as Prescott got sacked seven times. However, when he wasn’t getting sacked, he was making huge plays. As a matter of fact, the Cowboys’ only touchdown of the game played right into the Saints’ pressure: It was a screen to Ezekiel Elliot that went for a 16-yard score in the first quarter.