But the Dallas Cowboys did what every other team couldn't do for the past 13 weeks of the New Orleans Saints' season. The Cowboys pulled off a dominating performance against the Saints to win 24-17. Not only did this win end the Saints' run, but it also put themselves in control of their own destiny to make their own run for the playoffs.
Cowboys DE Demarcus Ware not only played in the game after suffering from a sprained neck and being carried out on a stretcher out of last week's game against the Giants. Nope. He had 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, giving the Cowboys the defensive attack that they needed against the potent New Orleans offense.
QB Tony Romo didn't disappoint either. He has had ZERO interceptions in the past 3 games, and he threw for 22 completions. Despite December historically being the worst month for the Cowboys, Tony Romo has been playing the best football out of his entire career - that came through in this Saints game.
Of course, WR Miles Austin did his thing, with 7 receptions for 139 yards. I have to say, I definitely enjoy watching him play......
However, the Cowboys could not win without some type of drama. With Dallas up 24-3, the Saints went marching in (had to do it) with 14 unanswered points, cutting the Dallas lead to 24-17.
It doesn't end there - after all, that's not enough drama for a Cowboys game. The Cowboys decided to play conservative football, and instead of pushing for another touchdown on 4th down, they let Nick Folk kick for a field goal; a 24-yard field goal that would seal the deal for a Dallas win over the then-undefeated Saints...
I called it.
Afterward, I was doing my trademark rocking-chair motion with hands folded, pleading to the screen that the Cowboys hold on because the playoffs depend upon it. Not to worry though, the Cowboys defense stepped up when it was needed most.
Demarcus Ware up and sacked Saints' QB Drew Brees with less than 20 seconds left in the game, forcing the ball out of Brees' hands. However, a fumble was not called, on account of the ball coming out from the force of the hit. I thought, "Bull," but I would be vindicated. An almost identical play by Demarcus Ware forced a definite fumble, which was recovered by the Cowboys to seal the win.
Dallas follows through with a knee on the final play of the game, winning 24-17.
Thankfully, Nick Folk is no longer a Dallas Cowboy. Instead, the NFL leader in missed field goals (with 10) has been replaced by... SHAUN SUISHAM! Ironically, the Cowboys play Suisham's former team, the Washington Redskins, who lost today in a humiliating loss to the NY Giants, 45-12.
As a Cowboys fan, I hope not to see Suisham miss crucial FG's from short yardage like he did in the last Cowboys/Redskins game. Should be fun to watch, nonetheless.
Which leads me to the next point...
The New Orleans Saints were bound to lose. Something about them just did not feel right for them to be go undefeated. Their vulnerabilities were exposed in the wild 33-30 win over the Redskins in Week 13, and the following week against the Atlanta Falcons where they also barely won 26-23. If the Cowboys went into the Super Dome on top of their game, the Saints would have to play a quality team after those previous losses.
It also didn't help New Orleans that they did not have a strong defense: The Saints were 25th in Pass defense and 18th in defending the run, and that's just the short story, aside from allowing 30 points from an offensively struggling Redskins team. With the Cowboys going in with receivers like Miles Austin, a strong running game, and Tony Romo playing better than he ever has before, it set New Orleans up for failure. All Dallas had to do was to bring out all of this in one game, along with their defense to stop the offense. And they did just that.
It's nothing personal; I kind of wanted to see the Saints go undefeated with the possibility of 2 undefeated teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the Saints. But when I saw that the Cowboys had a chance against the Saints (many doubted that chance) as long as the conditions were right, I thought about the opportunity for Dallas to redeem themselves in December to make the playoffs (and finally win a game there too).
From here on out though, I wish the Saints luck. They'll be fine since the Vikings don't look so well either, losing 2 out of the last 3 games, including this week's loss to the Carolina Panthers, 26-7. So the Saints can breathe.
I'll be in Florida fortunately and unfortunately during the Cowboys and Redskins game (leaving Friday), although I will be watching. I'm excited for sure; for the trip and the game.
I'd like to give a shoutout to the Washington Caps as well, being #1 in the entire NHL. A good 2-1 Western road trip showed fans the Caps might finally be a legitimate team finally. I mean, for the first time in a LONG time, I heard the words, "The Caps are the more experienced team, and it shows" in the 6-1 win against the Northwest Division leading Colorado Avalanche. It's a good time to be a Caps fan indeed.