NEW ORLEANS – There's no easy way to sum up the rollercoaster of emotions the Cowboys endured Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, culminating in a devastating overtime loss to the Saints.
The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com will attempt to do just that, though, as they sort out the first reactions to a breathtaking finish that saw the Cowboys fall, 26-20.
On Saturday, the staff writers gave their gut feeling for Sunday's game. Check out the instant reactions from the staff of DallasCowboys.com.
David Helman: Drew Brees didn't make the mistake I thought he would, but I thought perhaps Zach Hocker's missed game-winning field goal was the miscue that could lead Dallas to victory. That turned out to be wrong, as a Dallas miscue on defense led to C.J. Spiller's walk-off score. I honestly don't even know where to begin. You'll never confuse Brandon Weeden with a Pro Bowl quarterback, but he played well enough to win this game. Terrance Williams isn't making anyone forget about Dez Bryant, but he snagged a game-tying grab in dire circumstances. The defense wasn't great by any stretch, but it played well enough to keep the Cowboys alive – up until that final mistake. Tonight's postgame locker room was as dejected as I've ever seen it, and I think I understand why. The Cowboys played about as well as you could expect them to. After all, this is a team that's missing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Greg Hardy, and Randy Gregory – and it lost Sean Lee and Lance Dunbar during the course of the action. They weren't good enough to get the job done despite a valiant effort. And Romo's return is still at least five games away. With that in mind, where do they go from here?
Bryan Broaddus: The Saints defensively came into this game with their share of defensive struggles. My gut feeling was that with Ronald Leary back in the lineup, the offensive line as a whole would play much better with more continuity. The Saints never allowed this Cowboys rushing game to get going. But of the biggest problems that I noticed from the press box was how the Saints were able to run down plays from the backside, which meant that there was not enough push on the front side for them to get away from that pursuit. The pass protection was also not where it needed to be, as well. There were too many snaps even before the final drive where Weeden was pressured or forced to have to move and that affected the way the offense functioned.
Nick Eatman: All week long I thought the Cowboys would win because they were better. As it turned out, they weren't. The fact they got to overtime was a combination of grit, and some luck at the end. It's unfortunate how it ended because had the Cowboys got the ball first, things might have been much different. Other than the outcome, I got a few of these small predictions right. McFadden did have the most carries he's had all year. Michael played but wasn't a factor at all. I called a big game for Terrance Williams, but I'm not sure he had one. He certainly had a huge play at the end – one of the best catches I've seen in a clutch situation like that. Unfortunately for them, that was the last offensive play. This team is fighting right now, and it's not easy with all of the injuries. But Jason Garrett doesn't let the team give excuses, so we shouldn't start right now. The Cowboys simply weren't good enough on this night. The effort was great, but the performance was average. Coincidentally, so is the Cowboys' record right now.
Rob Phillips: I picked the Cowboys to win a close one over the Saints on the strength of their offensive line, both as blockers and communicators. For the most part, they seemed to handle the Superdome noise adequately, which was critical for Brandon Weeden facing a complex Rob Ryan defense. But the Dallas offense just couldn't get the running game going in the second half again -- 45 of their 128 total rushing yards came on a single Lance Dunbar run on the game-opening drive. That lack of balance hurt, and so did Dunbar's injury, which robbed the offense of yet another speed element. Injuries are taking their toll across the roster a month into the season.
For the initial gut feeling predictions of the staff writers posted on Saturday, click here: