Posted on November 30, 2018, by Travis Pulver
Heading into Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints, the Dallas Cowboys knew much of the football-loving world did not believe in them. But they believed. They felt like their game was up to the challenge. They felt like they could shock the world and take down the high-powered Saints offense— and they did.
There were moments in the second half where it looked like the Saints were going to wake up and take over the game. But in the end, the Dallas defense was not going to be denied.
The plan the Cowboys had going in was pretty clear from the start. They wanted to limit the opportunities Drew Brees would have to work his magic by not letting him on the field as much as possible. That meant moving the ball against the league’s No. 1 run defense.
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But they didn’t just try to ram Ezekiel Elliot into the Saints front four over and over again. They took what the Saints defense was willing to give. Dak Prescott completed a lot of short to intermediate routes, controlled the clock, and moved the ball well in the first half.
“Everybody knew it. We had to keep the ball away from Brees,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game. “We needed to play this kind of game. I must tell you, the defense played beyond my expectations. They played like a championship defense.”
The plan worked like a charm in the first half. The Dallas defense held Drew Brees to just 39 yards passing, his lowest mark in a half since joining the Saints. At the half, the Cowboys led, 13-0.
But since the Cowboys had to end two drives with field goals, the Saints were still easily within reach. For much of the second half, they looked like they were a drive away from taking over the game.
The Dallas defense didn’t make it easy, and the Saints did get some help from a couple of unfortunate penalties by Randy Gregory. When the fourth quarter rolled around, the Cowboys still led, but the score was 13-10.
Then it was Dak Prescott’s turn to make sure the Saints had a shot to win. He had a pair of fumbles in the fourth, one in the red zone that kept the Cowboys from increasing their lead late in the game. But the defense bailed him out two plays later by picking off Brees.
To be fair to Prescott, he did have a couple of very tough, gritty runs that were incredible and proved he could be a clutch player when it was required of him.
After their 3-5 start, it was easy to write off the Dallas Cowboys. Even though they entered the game on a three-game winning streak, it was still easy to count them out. The Eagles, Falcons, and Redskins are not exactly competitive teams this year.
But the Saints were 10-1 and widely considered the team t beat in the NF this season. Dallas held the highest scoring offense in the league to just 10 points and less than 200 total yards on offense. The Cowboys didn’t just beat the Saints. They controlled them.
Of course, the trick for the Cowboys now is not to have a let down the next time they play. Next up for them is a home game against the Eagles on December 9. The Saints will try to get back on track when they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (also December 9).