Good teams figure out ways to win.
Whatever else can be said of the New Orleans Saints after the first quarter of the season, this has to be added: The Saints (3-1) have shown they know how to win, which is why they currently reside atop the NFC South Division, after Sunday's 12-10 victory over Dallas in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
That's victories in their first two games without Drew Brees and, probably, few would've forecast a road victory against Seattle and a home win over Dallas without the future Hall of Famer. But the Saints have become a much more complete team, and it shows.
OFFENSE: Four field goals was enough, but that certainly isn't the kind of production New Orleans is accustomed to or seeking. The Saints were 0-for-4 in the red zone, and 0-for-1 on goal-to-go; that kind of inefficiency can't continue long term. Teddy Bridgewater completed 23 of 30 passes for 193 yards, and his interception was a catchable pass to Ted Ginn Jr. (tough catch, but catchable). But he was sacked five times for minus-44 yards, and the final one was a killer because it knocked New Orleans out of field goal range and likely took points off the board. He can't take that sack. Still, the Saints muscled up and ran for 117 yards, converted 6 of 14 third-down attempts and had possession of the ball for a whopping 36:04. That said, the penalties (nine for 80 yards overall, four of them holding penalties) are drive slayers. They've got to stop.
DEFENSE: Dallas entered Sunday averaging 32.3 points (fourth in the NFL), 481.3 yards (third), 179 rushing yards (third) and 302.3 passing yards (fourth). New Orleans held the Cowboys to 10 points, 257 yards, 45 rushing yards and 212 passing yards – AND it forced three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception). If New Orleans could've played much better defensively, I'm not sure how. The Saints wanted to take away the run, and Zeke Elliott had 35 yards on 18 carries. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was a blanket in coverage (two passes defensed and four tackles) and the only reason he possibly could be overshadowed is because safety Vonn Bell recovered two fumbles, forced a fumble, defended a pass and had 10 tackles. There only was one sack but it was big one; defensive tackle David Onyemata produced it on Dallas' final offensive drive. Start to finish, by far the best defensive game of the season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Saints didn't appear to have a mental or physical bust on special teams that was costly. Wil Lutz kicked four field goals to account for all the scoring, and kicked every ball out of the end zone so Dallas didn't have any kickoff return yards. The Cowboys managed only to return one punt for 14 yards because the cover team and punter Thomas Morstead (four punts, 40-yard net) again did their job. The Cowboys quickly discovered that it's a dangerous choice to kick to Deonte Harris, who had a 23-yard punt return and a 29-yard kickoff return. And Lutz was Lutz, which should put him in the conversation for NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.