Who Dat? Nobody, apparently.
The New Orleans Saints have now played two full games without Drew Brees and they’ve won them both, knocking off previously undefeated teams both times. After pulling off a win over the Seahawks in Seattle last week, the Saints outlasted the Cowboys in New Orleans in Week 4, hanging on for a 12-10 victory in a game where the best unit on the field — by far — was the Saints’ relatively unheralded defense.
Dak Prescott had one last chance to lead a game-winning drive — something he’d done more often in his first three seasons than any quarterback in NFL history — but after hitting Randall Cobb for a big gain to set up a Hail Mary attempt, the Saints sent a blitz on the final play of the game, forcing Prescott to throw far earlier than he would have preferred. That meant his Hail Mary didn’t even come close to reaching the goal line, and it was ultimately intercepted by Marcus Williams anyway.
The injury to Brees back in Week 2 looked at first like it might doom the Saints’ season, but it’s now very clear that won’t be happening. Here are a few more things to know about New Orleans’ big win on “Sunday Night Football.”
Why the Saints won
Defense, and timely conversions. Dennis Allen’s defense held what looked like one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses through the first three weeks of the season completely in check. Ezekiel Elliott was bottled up all night, finishing with one of the worst rushing lines of his career. With the exception of one throw to Blake Jarwin over the middle of the field, Dak Prescott got pretty much nothing going all evening. Marshon Lattimore blanketed Amari Cooper. Devin Smith had just one target, and didn’t catch it. Randall Cobb was invisible, except when he was dropping passes. On offense, the Saints converted six of 13 third downs, which helped them carve out a massive time-of-possession advantage and keep Prescott and company on the sideline.
Why the Cowboys lost
Mistakes and poor play-calling. Jason Witten fumbled for just the ninth time in his 16-year career. Elliott lost a fumble on a fourth-down conversion. Dallas took six penalties, two of which gave New Orleans first downs of their own. And wunderkind offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s play-calling conjured unpleasant memories of the past two years of the Scott Linehan era. The Cowboys went away from what had been working for them all season, running into stacked boxes on early downs, crowding rushing lanes in short yardage, and rarely if ever challenging the defense with either play-action or deep throws down the field. It was an ugly performance all around.
Honestly, there wasn’t any one play that changed the game. The Saints just kind of held Dallas down for pretty much the entire night, and ground out just enough offense to come away with a win and move to 2-0 in games they played entirely without Drew Brees.
Play of the game
Yeah, it’s got to be this ridiculous pin-balling run from Alvin Kamara.
Kamara breaks four tackles within a handful of seconds, gaining 11 yards in the process and extending what would eventually become the game-winning field goal drive. Kamara carried 17 times for 69 yards in the game, adding 20 more yards while hauling in all three of the targets Bridgewater directed his way. It was not the explosive performance we’re used to from him, but it was efficient and it was ultimately enough.
The Saints move to 3-1 with this victory. They’ll welcome the Buccaneers to the Superdome next week. Tampa is presumably riding high after hanging 55 points on the Rams earlier in the day on Sunday. The Cowboys, meanwhile, see their record drop to 3-1. They host the also 3-1 Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium next week.
You can relive all the action from the Saints’ win in our live blog below.
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