NEW ORLEANS – This game had its share of crazy plays, including the final one that ended the Cowboys' night just two snaps into overtime.
But all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, yet end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are a handful that changed this game.
Church pick wiped out –The Cowboys had just grabbed a 10-7 lead on the Joseph Randle touchdown, and on the next possession, Barry Church made a diving pick of Brees, seemingly giving the Cowboys the ball back at the Saints' 32-yard line. But a defensive holding call on Brandon Carr not only wiped out the interception, but gave the Saints the ball back. New Orleans got two first downs and eventually punted the ball to the Cowboys, who started the next possession at their 17. Even without the pick, the Cowboys were about to get good field position.
12 players on field – Dallas had just made a key defensive stop in the third quarter and figured to get the ball back with a 10-7 lead. But on fourth-and-8, the Cowboys didn't get substituted out in time and 12 players were on the field when the ball was snapped. Instead of the Cowboys getting the ball on their own 10, the Saints got a new fourth-and-3 and elected for a field goal. Zach Hocker drilled a 51-yarder to tie the game.
Butler pulls up – The Cowboys were about to take the lead in the third quarter when Brice Butler hauled in a perfectly-thrown pass by Brandon Weeden down the left sideline. Butler has blazing speed and had three steps on the Saints defender when he pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be forced out of bounds at the 10. The Cowboys attempted three straight passes and didn't connect on anything, settling for a field goal, which gave Dallas a 13-10 lead. Butler also didn't return in the game, giving the Cowboys a second speedy player out, along with Lance Dunbar.
Street penalty – Had the Cowboys simply had an incomplete pass early in the fourth, things might have been different. Instead, an illegal touching play on Devin Street, who went out of bounds to make the catch, led to a string of unfortunate plays for Dallas. The 5-yard penalty led to another third down play, which resulted in a 7-yard loss on a sack of Brandon Weeden. The ensuing punt included a penalty on Corey White that allowed the Saints to start their drive at their own 33. Without the penalty on Street, the Saints likely start the possession around their own 10. But with good field position, Drew Brees went to work and marched his team down the field 67 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
Non-call on Gachkar before final TD – The Saints' 80-yard game-winning touchdown from Brees to C.J. Spiller will get replayed over and over this week and maybe for a while. What won't get shown is the play before, which was the first snap of overtime. Brees threw a pass in the right flat for running back Khiry Robinson, who dropped the pass. But he was open because of a pick route the Saints ran to block linebacker Andrew Gachkar, who was injured on the play. Jason Garrett was lobbying for a penalty on the sideline, especially since it injured a player that was already in the game with Sean Lee out. So Keith Smith ran onto the field and the entire linebacking corps looked out of sync. That's all Brees needed as he sent Spiller down the sideline free for the game-winning touchdown.