NEW ORLEANS – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' 49-17 loss to the Saints.
Rowan Kavner: No one predicted the massacre that occurred Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Cowboys established a strong running presence early on and took a quick 3-0 lead, but that's about the only positive thing to say about a team that got smashed the rest of the way. Tony Romo only had three completions for 20 yards at the half, and the Saints defense continued to move the ball at will against a defense, particularly after Sean Lee went out with an injury. I thought we'd see a back-and-forth shootout in New Orleans. It turned out this one was over early in the third quarter, when thoughts shifted more to the Cowboys' immediate future without Lee than it did the game, which was already wrapped up.* *
David Helman:The popular saying around this team is that they play to their level of competition, but that was far from the case Sunday night. The offense, aside from one short drive in the third quarter, couldn't find any rhythm or consistent production. It was nice to see the Cowboys commit to the run and find some early success, but was it worth it at the cost of such a poor passing performance? This team lives and dies with Tony Romo, as far as I'm concerned, and his inability to find even 100 passing yards when the game was still in the balance just wasn't going to cut it. Once again we saw the defense fall well short of top-notch competition, as the Saints racked up both points and yardage. Obviously, injuries play a role in that, as Jason Hatcher was inactive and Sean Lee left the game early. But that doesn't excuse the poor tackling or the dozen penalties. The Cowboys have dealt with their fair share of disappointment this season, but this is the first time in 10 weeks we've seen them get definitively outplayed. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman:I really thought we'd see an old-fashioned shootout. The Saints were certainly down for it, although Rob Ryan wasn't having it. The Cowboys just weren't good enough on any side of the ball to stay with the Saints. Cole Beasley wasn't really a factor like I thought. Then again neither was Dez Bryant or Jason Witten or anyone Tony Romo was throwing to. To me, the game changed completely when Sean Lee went out with a hamstring injury. That's when the Saints just ripped the Cowboys' defense up to no end. Drew Brees did anything he wanted and was rarely challenged. Injuries for this team aren't excuses anymore, it's just reality. This team was average before these injuries and now it's even worse. The bye week just couldn't come at a better time.
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday.
David Helman:I feel so much better about this game than I did when the week started. The Saints look vulnerable to a good pass rush, and DeMarcus Ware is back in the lineup with intent to disrupt Drew Brees. I also think the Cowboys offense will be able to move the ball against Rob Ryan's group, which is good but maybe not as good as advertised. Unfortunately, I think the combination of Brees and Jimmy Graham will be too much to contain. I think Ware gets himself back in the sack column, but I also think Graham will bring in a touchdown or two. Much like the Denver game, the Cowboys offense will find a way to get going, but the Saints win a shootout – something like 38-28. I think a big part of that will be because the Cowboys won't notch a turnover this week, which would be just the second time this season they haven't produced at least one.
Rowan Kavner:I don't expect a blowout for either side here, but the Cowboys better make sure they don't get down in bunches early. The problem for the Cowboys in this one is that the Saints seem to do everything well that the Cowboys have had trouble with. In San Diego, the defense had trouble against Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead, and the combination of Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles in the passing game is probably even more lethal. Despite the Saints' improved defense under Rob Ryan, I see both teams still trading points in this one, but the Cowboys don't have an answer for Graham or the slot threats of the Saints. I think Bruce Carter is active in this one and makes amends for the struggles he had against Woodhead earlier this year, while Jeff Heath gets an interception. Offensively, Cole Beasley ends up with more catches than Terrance Williams and Lance Dunbar finally gets involved in his hometown and has a 20-plus yard play. Eventually, the Saints' offense is just too much, and they're the first and last to 30 points.
Nick Eatman:Judging by the pattern of recent history, the Cowboys have a good shot here. Dating back to that 2009 game, these two teams play the opposite of what is expected. Even last year, the Cowboys were supposed to win but couldn't stop the Saints at the end. So this year, maybe the Cowboys really do have a good shot of going to New Orleans and grabbing a win. I wish I could see it, but I don't. Beating the Saints to improve to 6-4 heading into the bye week would be just too good for this team. Nothing comes easy for this team, especially in the Big Easy. I see the Cowboys staying with the Saints for a while, but eventually one team runs out of bullets. I think the Saints will win 38-30. I see a big game for Cole Beasley, maybe something like a double-digit catch game. I'm calling for a first career interception by Jeff Heath. But in the end, I see a flight home with a 5-5 team with two weeks to try and figure it out.