You want it to be clean and neat, thorough and dominating, lopsided and record-breaking.
Except, what you want and what the New Orleans Saints need are two totally different matters.
What the Saints need are wins, regardless of how they are packaged. And they got another one Sunday night, a 12-10 decision over Dallas in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a grinder that kept the Saints (3-1) in first place in the NFC South Division and was their second consecutive victory in as many games without Drew Brees.
Here were a few of the standouts:
OFFENSE: The most pleasing aspect of the Saints' offense in the last two games has been that its two most prominent play-makers, running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas, have given as much production as has been needed in order to help secure victory. In a tough game, they played grownup ball against the Cowboys. Kamara had 69 rushing yards on 17 carries, and added three catches for 20 yards. And Thomas had game highs in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (95). New Orleans never really found an offensive rhythm, in part due to a handful of holding penalties. But Kamara and Thomas sloshed through the muck and spearheaded the production.
DEFENSE: Safety Vonn Bell had two fumble recoveries in his previous three NFL seasons entering this year. He had two Sunday night, including one that he forced after Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott had run for two yards on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. Bell, who has three fumble recoveries in the last two games, also had 10 tackles and a pass defensed, but his nose for the ball has been critical. Against Seattle, he returned the fumble for a touchdown. Against Dallas, his second recovery led to a field goal that helped the Saints take a 9-3 lead into halftime.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kind of an easy one here. Four Wil Lutz field goals provided all the scoring for New Orleans. Sure, a couple were chip shots from 19 and 26 yards, after the Saints bogged down in the red zone. But in a low-scoring game like Sunday's every point becomes more precious. New Orleans – and every other team – would prefer that its kicker occupy his time with point-after attempts (hordes of them) and kickoffs. But when the Saints call on Lutz, it's pretty comforting to know that he arguably is the most reliable kicker in the league right now.