The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a major coup at the AT&T Stadium on Thursday night when they defeated the in-form New Orleans Saints 13-10 to move up to first place in the National Football Conference (NFC) East standings.
The Saints were the favorites coming into the game in Arlington, Texas, having won 10 consecutive games since their opening week loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But they were unable to carry their momentum against the Cowboys, and now face an uphill task to finish as the top seeds in the NFC.
It was similar to the 2009 season when the Dallas franchise ended their 13-game winning streak. The Cowboys won their fourth straight game to improve their record to 7-5 for the season.
Drew Brees, who is having a phenomenal season, had a relatively quiet night after managing to complete just 18 of his 28 passes which included one touchdown and one interception. The interception was crucial as it occurred with just over two minutes remaining on the clock and scores at 13-10.
But the Saints quarterback maintained his position as the favorite to win the regular season MVP award after keeping pace to set the single season record for completion percentage – 76.4 – and passer rating – 127.3, according to NFL Research.
It was a surprising performance from the Saints, who were averaging 37.2 points per game until their meeting with the Cowboys. While they managed to gain only 176 yards and are now 10-2 for the season, which puts them half a game behind their NFC rivals Los Angeles Rams, who can now take over as the number one seeds and have home-field advantage in the playoffs if they win all their games.
Brees credited the Cowboys for the win and believes the Saints offence failed to find their rhythm during the entire game. Head coach Sean Payton also echoed his quarterback’s views and admitted that the NFC East side deserved the win on the night.
“I feel like we did not really find our rhythm for pretty much the whole game,” Saints quarterback Brees said during his post-match press conference. “I guess we may have had one decent drive, but for most part we just could not find our rhythm with what we were doing. So, credit to them.”
“To start tip your hat to Dallas, I thought those guys did a good job tonight and played heck of a game and deserved to win the game,” Saints head coach Payton added. “I thought we struggled throughout the night without having any consistency offensively. I thought we made enough plays defensively.”
“I kind of felt like it would be a low scoring game coming in, but we just didn’t do enough things and that starts with us as coaches, the plan going in and there will be a lot we watch on tape,” Payton said.