Arlington, Texas – It's not that we were juked into believing that the New Orleans Saints were invincible. It's that they hadn't lost in so long – since Sept. 9, the season opener – we lost the feel for what it was like to see them lose.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys reacquainted us with it Thursday night at AT&T Stadium, with a 13-10 victory over the Saints that ended New Orleans' winning streak at 10 games and prevented the Saints from clinching a playoff berth.
Now, the Saints (10-2) get an opportunity to rest a bit, recalibrate and prepare to finish the regular season in as strong a way as possible. There were some individual performances of note, though.
OFFENSE: Well, let's adjust that sentiment a bit, because there really were no standout performances for the Saints offensively. They totaled 176 yards and it was tough earning. Drew Brees completed 18 of 28 for 127 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, and was sacked twice. The running game, with 65 yards on 19 carries, wasn't effective. The Saints couldn't convert on third down (3 of 11) and came up empty in the red zone (0 for 2). They couldn't score on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and in the first half, they had as many punts (three) as first downs. By far, it was the worst offensive showing this season.
DEFENSE: Sometimes, David Onyemata can get lost in the shuffle on the defensive line. He was impossible to miss against the Cowboys. Onyemata had three sacks – his first three of the season – and led a defense that piled up seven sacks against Dallas. Cam Jordan chipped in two sacks to raise his team-leading total to 10, and Jordan also caused and recovered a fumble, along with two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. Usually, that'd be enough for him to be noted as the standout defender. But Onyemata matched him with two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss, and he forced a fumble to go along with seven tackles. It was as notable performance as any Saint had Thursday night.
SPECIAL TEAMS: We can joke all we want to about Thomas Morstead's light workload. Just know that when the Saints punter is called upon, he shows up. Big. Four punts for a net average of 44.5 yards, and a gross of 51.5, was outstanding work for Morstead. He boomed a 57-yarder to start the game and his 42-yarder probably should have been downed at the Dallas 1-yard line, but Dwayne Washington's hand touched the goal line. Otherwise, it would have been another fantastic result. He remains a field-position flipper when the opportunities arise.