NEW ORLEANS –There's so much to be said about a game like that – and even more to be said when we've had a chance to sit back and break this one down.
For now, here are my biggest impressions from what turned out to be a painful night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
1) I really believed that things were going to be different for the offense with left guard Ronald Leary back in the lineup, especially running the ball. Despite some early success with Joseph Randle, they couldn't sustain it, and that is something that they can't have happen. It appeared that their issues were more on the backside of the line where as a group they struggled with securing those blocks and allowing free runners to the ball.
2) I was on the field for the last eight minutes of the game, so I really didn't have a good view of the final drive that tied the score. Up until that point, I didn't feel like there was anyone on the offense that could win on the outside. There were just too many contested throws, and the Saints secondary did a better job of denying those types of balls.
3) I thought that cornerback Morris Claiborne battled his rear off in his matchup with receiver Brandin Cooks. With the way that Saints head coach Sean Payton likes to use Cooks in the passing game, it was going to be a difficult task. Claiborne was able to carry him all over the field and keep his position. When Cooks did make a catch, Claiborne was right there with a sure tackle.
4) Christine Michael was used for one play and that was on the 3rd-and-1 late in the game. I was expecting to see Michael more as the night wore on, but he never got that chance. In the second half it was all Darren McFadden due to the fact that he is better on blitz pickups. As much as I like McFadden, Michael does deserve a chance to show what he can do.
5) Thought for just coming in this week, David Irving did a really nice job playing as that under-tackle. He was quick off the ball and was in position on some rushes where he was able to put pressure on Drew Brees. There appears to be something to build on there. Looking forward to watching the film on him.
6) I just didn't feel like Barry Church played one of his best games. As much as he is around the ball tackling, he wasn't as sure as he normally is. I also felt there were some snaps where they took advantage of him in coverage and he was late to get in position to affect the play. And just not the final play in overtime, but the entire game.
7) I don't know if the injury to Lance Dunbar caused the 12 men on the field penalty that led to a Saints field goal, but I do know that there are two special teams coaches on the staff, so that just can't happen.
8) The Cowboys' offensive staff felt that Delvin Breaux was the cornerback to attack in this matchup, but on tape to me, Brandon Browner was the weaker of the two. Browner did give up the long pass to Brice Butler and just watching him play, I didn't think he could run to cover anyone. Might have been a missed opportunity there.
9) Looked like the defense got a little something from DeMarcus Lawrence in this game. It was a good matchup for him against Saints tackle Zach Strief. Lawrence has been close in some previous games, but just not able to finish. There were several snaps where he was a factor by playing with some nice power and quickness.
10) I am curious to see how cornerback Tyler Patmon played out of the slot. There were some snaps when the defensive staff put Corey White in there to give him a look. Didn't feel like that Patmon was in good enough position the majority of the night and might have been chasing the receiver too much.
11) Losing Sean Lee to a concussion in the first half was a big blow. In his place I thought that Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson did a nice job of stepping up. Hitchens was all over the field and played more like the guy we saw last season. Hitchens took advantage of the Saints offensive line's inability to get blockers to the second level. When Hitchens doesn't have to fight blocks and can just run, he can be special.
12) As long as Brandon Weeden is playing quarterback, if I am Scott Linehan, I am considering just playing more empty-set formations. Weeden appears to see the field better and it opens up some one-on-one opportunities on the outside. Weeden playing out of the shotgun in this type of attack I thought made him much more comfortable.