ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys had one of their more impressive wins in recent history with a convincing 38-17 win over the Saints.
The game had plenty of highlights, mostly coming from the Cowboys' end. But all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but ended up playing a huge factor in the outcome.
And here are a handful of plays that changed this game.
1. First pass to Williams– The first pass of the game set the tone because it showed the Saints that unlike last year, doubling Dez and taking him out of the game can have some drawbacks. Terrance Williams had a 15-yard catch on second-and-9, beating 1-on-1 coverage. The rest of the drive, Romo hit Witten twice, Escobar, Murray and Harris once and then Williams for the touchdown. Romo connected on all seven passes on that first drive and none of them to Bryant.
2. Church Stops Watson – With the Cowboys leading 7-0 but the Saints on the move, New Orleans nearly converted a third-down pass when Brees hit tight end Ben Watson on a drag route over the middle. But needing nine for the first down, Barry Church stopped Wastson for a gain of only seven, setting up a field-goal attempt by Shayne Graham. The Saints' kicker hooked the ball to the left on the 41-yard attempt, keeping the Saints off the scoreboard and the raucous Cowboys crowd in a frenzy.
3. Murray's 22-yard run – The Cowboys got the ball back with 2:34 to play in the first half with a 10-0 lead. Not that they were content with that lead, they still wanted to be somewhat conservative before halftime. But that was until Murray ripped off a 22-yard run up the middle. That changed the complexity of the drive and the Cowboys' aggressiveness. A big pass to Cole Beasley and Jason Witten put the team in position to get another touchdown – a Romo back-shoulder pass to Williams for a 17-0 halftime edge.
4. Romo's career-long – For the second straight week, Tony Romo made a play with his legs. This time it was the longest rush of his career – a 21-yard run up the middle on third-and-five from the Saints' 49. On the next play, Murray scored on a 28-yard run, giving the Cowboys a 31-3 lead. Last week, Romo's 16-yard run kept a drive alive, leading to the go-ahead touchdown over the Rams. [embedded_ad]
5. Moore goes up with Graham– When in doubt, Drew Brees usually just throws it up for Jimmy Graham and it often works out for him. The Saints had all the momentum, cutting the lead to 31-17 and had the ball back with more than eight minutes to play. But on a second-and-15, Brees lofted a pass down the sideline for Graham, who was covered by Sterling Moore. On a pass that the former basketball players usually comes down with, Moore jumped in front and nearly had the interception. Graham had to become the defender and knock down the pass. It set up a third-and-15 and the Cowboys forced a fourth down, where the Saints elected to run a fake punt, which was sniffed out, giving Dallas the ball back to set up the game-sealing win.