IRVING, Texas - Tony Romo hasn't needed a short memory very often since taking over as the Cowboys' starting quarterback in October. Once, to be exact, when the Cowboys dropped a heartbreaker at Washington five weeks ago.
But Romo said he'll try to forget Sunday's convincing 42-17 loss to New Orleans, in which he completed 16 of 33 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 58.8 quarterback rating.
"If you let this affect you it'll affect your next game," said Romo, who dropped to 5-2 as a starter this season. "As soon as I leave here today I'm going to try my best to let it go. Me being as competitive as I am, it'll probably take me a little longer, but I will let it go when I get back at practice."
The Cowboys grabbed an early 7-0 lead on Julius Jones' 77-yard touchdown run, but Romo was forced to play catch-up the entire second half after New Orleans scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.
"I think when you play like we played, the game got so one-dimensional that he didn't really have a good chance," Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said of his 26-year-old starter.
Romo's lone touchdown pass - a 34-yarder to Terrell Owens in the third quarter - could have easily been intercepted. But the ball went right through Saints cornerback Fred Thomas' fingers and into Owens' hands.
Romo was sacked twice and hurried several times, which forced him to loft a few passes out of bounds. He'd only been sacked seven times in the previous six games.
"I just think they did a good job getting pressure on us," he said. "And when you're moving around you don't want to put a ball in a position where the defense can intercept it and I think a couple times you just try to throw the ball before everything's where it needs to be time-wise."
While it's not easy to find just one pivotal play in a 42-17 blowout, there was a crucial, and rather odd, sequence of events that went against the Cowboys late in the first half.
Parcells was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for tossing his red challenge flag onto the field with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Parcells was trying to get the officials' attention in hopes they would review a ruled catch by Saints receiver Jamal Jones, who dropped the ball after he was hit by safety Roy Williams.
Although the Saints hurried to the line of scrimmage to get another play snapped before the replay official in the booth could stop play, the on-field officials eventually stopped play to review the catch, which was actually overturned.
However, NFL rules state coaches cannot toss their red flags onto the field of play in the final two minutes of each half to stop the play.
"It is my fault for it because you're not supposed to do it in the final two minutes," Parcells said. "One of my coaches upstairs says, 'Challenge it,' and you have instincts to try to fight. But I take the blame for it. I should've known better. It never crossed my mind though."
So instead of third-and-20 for the Saints at the Cowboys' 42, they got a first down at the 27. On the next play, Brees found Jones over the middle again, this time for a touchdown pass that gave the Saints a two-touchdown lead.
*- Nick Eatman *
Kept In Check
Wide receiver Terrell Owens scored a touchdown for the fourth time in the last six games, but the Saints' defense held him to just three catches for 56 yards - tying his lowest reception total of the season.
Owens had three catches in his much-anticipated return to Philadelphia and in Week 2 against Washington, when he broke a bone in his hand in the first quarter.
Owens said he had some one-on-one opportunities against the Saints.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," he said. "I made some mental errors on a couple of routes. We knew it was going to be one of those games where we had to put some points on the board."
Owens said of his 34-yard touchdown, "It was one of those situations where I had a defender who had a cast on his hand. Just one of those lucky breaks that we had."
Cowboys running back Julius Jones appeared to be well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career following his 77-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. The run tied the fifth longest in club history. Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett went for 77 twice in his career.
But Jones finished with 116 yards on just 10 carries, tying his career-best 993-yard total with three games left in the regular season. The third-year veteran missed 11 games his first two years because of rib, shoulder and ankle injuries.
Backup running back Marion Barber had just two carries for minus-1 yards.
Return To Texas
Former Cowboys linebackers Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita led the Saints with six and five tackles, respectively.
New Orleans signed Fujita, who replaced the injured Al Singleton as the Cowboys' outside linebacker for in the second half of last season, and acquired Shanle in the off-season for a Cowboys 2007 seventh-round draft pick.
Former Cowboys receiver Terrance Copper also caught one pass for eight yards with Joe Horn sidelined, and the team's former 1997 seventh-round pick, Omar Stoutmire, accounted for one of the Saints' two interceptions.
- Martin Gramatica missed his second field-goal attempt, a 43-yarder, since taking over kicking duties for Mike Vanderjagt last Sunday. He made a 24-yard attempt in the third quarter.
- Wide receiver Terry Glenn finished the game with a season-high eight receptions for a season-best 150 yards, his first 100-yard receiving game of the season and the 22nd of his career. The 150-yard game was the sixth best game of his career and the sixth time he has had 150 or more receiving yards in a game.
- Only New York Giants quarterback Y..A. Tittle has thrown more touchdown passes in a game against the Cowboys than the Saints' Drew Brees, who threw five Sunday night. Tittle threw his six on Dec. 16, 1962.
- Rookie Miles Austin continued to perform well on kickoff returns, averaging 29.6 yards on five returns. He fumbled one return that was recovered by the Cowboys.
- The Cowboys were 1-of-8 on third down. They entered Sunday's game converting 49.4 percent of their third-down attempts, which ranked second in the league.
The Cowboys' inactive players included offensive linemen Joe Berger, Travis Leffew, Cory Procter and Pat McQuistan; newly-signed safety Tony Parrish; safety Jacques Reeves; defensive tackle Montavious Stanley; and defensive end Stephen Bowen . . . In addition to veteran quarterback Tommy Maddox, the Cowboys also recently worked out Jeb Huckeba, a defensive end out of Arkansas . . . Former Cowboys offensive tackle Rob Petitti was inactive for the Saints . . . Romo's quarterback rating fell to 96.6, the second consecutive week it has tumbled.