A game that was meant to be treated like the super bowl was met by a super bowl caliber defense. The Dallas Cowboys ended the New Orleans Saints 10-game winning streak in a low-scoring 13-10 victory at AT&T Stadium. Quarterback Drew Brees was held to 127 yards passing while Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for only 63 yards on the ground. A saints team who had scored 31, 48, 51 and 45 in their last four outings looked pedestrian against a young Dallas defense who “punched them in the mouth.” From a dominating defensive performance to a disappointing second-half offensive performance, here are 5 takeaways from the Cowboys primetime victory.
Defense wins championships
There is no doubt this defense is playing on the level of a super bowl contender. To hold a Saints offense to less than half of their season average for points is an impressive feat in itself. To do it when you are the sole unit being dependent upon the entire night makes their effort even more commendable. 10 of the Cowboys 13 points came in the first quarter. They also lost the turnover battle. Yet, somehow, this defense kept a stronghold on the Saints offense. In the Saints lone trip to the red zone, they were held out of the end zone after trying to go for it on a 4th-and-1 attempt. It’s not that the Cowboys won they are sending shockwaves around the NFL it is how this team was able to pull out a tough home win.
Offensive line replacements hold their own
After the atrocity that was the Cowboys and Falcons game last season, the Cowboys placed an urgency on ensuring they have quality backups in case of another injury among the offensive line. The Cowboys went out and signed 3 different offensive linemen and placed a premium pick on another. Though the offense hasn’t looked as fluid in years past it’s amazing it hasn’t looked worst. 3 of the 5 projected starters during the preseason were unavailable or did not start the game Thursday night. The running game was there when they needed it as well as the passing game. It’s not ideal for the Cowboys to replace two all-pros and a second-round pick with backups, but it is a relief to see the talent has improved since last year’s disaster.
Michael Gallup earns his reps
The Cowboys began the season with 7 wide receivers on their active roster. The rotation was cluttered with a wide array of receivers trying to live up to the theory that the Cowboys do not need a true number 1 receiver to be effective. Now that Amari Cooper has arrived the rotation has been drastically condensed leaving Gallup, not Hurns, resting in the number 2 position. While Cooper finished with 8 receptions for 75 yards, Gallup complemented his production with a 5 catch 76 yard game of his own. Gallup’s playmaking ability has allowed him to see more time on the field and has nearly removed Allen Hurns completely from the offensive game plan.
Kris Richard continues to prove his worth
We throw a lot of praise to the guys on the field, but let’s not forget about the guy’s on the headset. Coming into this game many people speculated over how this Cowboys defense would matchup against the Saints offensive weapons. One of the most anticipated match-ups was Byron Jones versus Michael Thomas. However, that was not the most important battle in this game. An overlooked tactic by this coaching staff is the decision to match Jourdan Lewis with Kamara. Lewis came away with one interception on a target to Kamara at the end of the game but had a chance to haul in a pick much earlier on another arrogant pass from Brees. Though Kamara finished with 8 receptions, his 36 yards proved just how well the Cowboys were able to key in on him.
Dallas has a long weekend to celebrate before they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to Arlington next Sunday. The Eagles (5-6) and Washington Redskins (6-5) division showdown this week can greatly booster the Cowboys chances at claiming the division title if Philadelphia pulls out a victory. Redskins win and their back tied with Dallas for 1st place in the division. Eagles win and they bring Washington back down to them with a chance for the Cowboys to take a 2-game lead over them next week. Dallas controls their own destiny and that’s a great feeling to have with just four games remaining in the season.
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