By Bailey Montgomery
Initial Reaction: Dallas Cowboys 13, New Orleans Saints 10
Thursday Night Football did not disappoint, as this highly anticipated game came down to the wire at AT&T Stadium. In a game that the Cowboys defense seemed to completely dominate, Drew Brees and this prolific Saints offense found themselves with the ball and a chance to win the game with less than 3 minutes remaining on the clock. This Cowboys defense found a way to force a late turnover to seal the deal, moving to 7-5 and providing a half-game cushion in the NFC East race. Here is my initial reaction to this surprisingly low-scoring thriller.
First of all, what a job by these Cowboy coaches. Rod Marinelli deserves a ton of credit for drawing up and unbelievable scheme and game plan which held this offense to a mere 10 points. This defensive front, while only bringing Brees down twice, provided pressure in his face all night long. These linebackers flew around the field, making plays in the open field and forcing this Saints offense off the field time after time. Last but certainly not least, the Cowboys secondary battled Michael Thomas and company, not allowing these skill players to get in any rhythm at all. These 4 stops stick out to me on this dominant night by this Cowboys defense.
While this defense played an unbelievable game, this Cowboys team made this game far more interesting than it likely needed to be. After an unbelievable stop by Leighton Vander Esch on third and short, Randy Gregory provided this Saints offense a lift with a costly Roughing the Punter penalty on fourth down. Drew Brees turned this penalty into 7 points, pulling the game within 3.
We knew heading into tonight’s contest that this was going to be a tough test for this offensive line, and it proved to be. La’el Collins was matched up with Cam Jordan, who provided problems all game long. This Saints front sacked Dak Prescott 7 times, while dropping Cowboys skill players for a loss on 6 occasions. While this was not the most beautiful performance by this Cowboys offense, they made just enough plays to win the ball game. Here are the 3 plays that stick out to me offensively that was the difference.
To me, the story of the night is this defense. A defense led by young stars Demarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Byron Jones is clicking just at the right time. Over this 4 game winning streak, this defense has allowed only 18 points per game, and has provided crucial turnovers the past two weeks. The speed of this defense matched up well with this electric offense, causing havoc for the Saints all night long.
The Cowboys will have 10 days to prepare for a home game against divisional foe Philadelphia, who will play the Washington Redskins on Monday night. This Cowboys squad got a much needed win, continuing a four game win streak. How ‘bout them Cowboys?
Dak Prescott: 24/28 for 248 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Ezekiel Elliott: 23 Carries, 76 yards, 3.3 AVG, 0 TD
Dak Prescott: 5 Carries, 22 yards, 4.4 AVG, 0 TD
Rod Smith: 3 Carries, 2 yards, 0.7 AVG, 0 TD
Michael Gallup: 5 Receptions, 76 Yards, 15.2 AVG, 0 TD
Amari Cooper: 8 Receptions, 75 Yards, 9.4 AVG, 0 TD
Ezekiel Elliott: 6 Receptions, 60 Yards, 10.0 AVG, 1 TD
Blake Jarwin: 1 Reception, 12 Yards, 12.0 AVG, 0 TD
Noah Brown: 1 Reception, 9 Yards, 9.0 AVG, 0 TD
Cole Beasley: 2 Receptions, 9 Yards, 4.5 AVG, 0 TD
Dalton Schultz: 1 Reception, 7 Yards, 7.0 AVG, 0 TD
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