The Big Easy is anything but. Trying to come away with a victory in New Orleans is always a challenge, and it proved to be so again for the Cowboys as they fell to the Saints, 12-10, the team’s first loss in this young 2019 season.
Dallas was trying to go undefeated in its first four games for the first time since the 2007 campaign, but instead the team lost at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on its third straight trip to New Orleans, having not won there since 2009.
Although many predicted a shootout in this one, it was truly a defensive battle. The Cowboys offense managed only 257 yards of total offense and a measly 45 on the ground. That included just 35 from Ezekiel Elliott, his lowest output since Week 7 of last season at Washington (33).
Meanwhile, in the passing attack, Dak Prescott was efficient but not as dynamic as he’d shown in the season’s first three games. As his receivers struggled to get open, he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 223 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
With the offense struggling and seemingly playing more conservative, that left the heavy lifting to the Dallas defense and they proved up to the task. Led by Robert Quinn’s two sacks and the unit’s five sacks overall, the Cowboys kept the Saints out of the end zone, New Orleans failing to cross the goal line on four trips into the red zone.
In fact, Saints’ dangerous running back Alvin Kamara was held to only 69 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving, but New Orleans as a group ran for 117 yards while wideout Michael Thomas hauled in nine passes for 95 yards.
Still, the defense did its part. Just in the end, it wasn’t enough.
The night got off to a promising enough start as the Cowboys opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal by Brett Maher in the first quarter, the points set up by Chidobe Awuzie’s first interception of the year.
But the Saints responded with field goals of their own on each of their next two possessions, splitting the uprights from 40 and then 42 yards, respectively, to take the lead. They then added yet another three points with two seconds remaining in the second quarter, New Orleans going into the break with a 9-3 advantage.
Ah, but the Cowboys brought out their third-quarter magic yet again. Through three games, the team was outscoring its opposition, 35-10, in the frame with Prescott good on all 22 of his pass attempts for 384 yards and three touchdowns.
Well, he picked up right where he left off as on the Cowboys’ first possession after the half, Prescott completed all six of his pass attempts, the big blow a 35-yard strike to tight end Blake Jarwin down the seam to the Saints’ 2-yard line. That left it to Elliott, who powered in on second down to score the game’s first and only touchdown.
As the third quarter ticked into the fourth, though, New Orleans was on the move, marching down to the Cowboys’ 13-yard line. But once more the Dallas defense kept the Saints from reaching pay dirt, surrendering a 26-yard field goal, which seesawed the lead, 12-10.
The score, though, would stand. The Cowboys had one more shot at it, taking over at their own 14-yard line with just 1:39 remaining in the game. And they were able to move the ball out to the 48 for one desperate throw with two seconds left. But Prescott’s final Hail Mary came down in the hands of the Saints to end the game.
With that, the Cowboys were handed their first loss of the year. Nobody said this would be easy, especially in New Orleans.