NEW ORLEANS – Everyone knows Tony Romo is currently sidelined with a broken collarbone, but for at least a few minutes, Brandon Weeden tried to make them forget.
The odds looked long when Weeden and his offense took the field trailing, 20-13, with 4:05 to play in regulation on Sunday night. The field was longer – the Cowboys sat on their own 9-yard line and needed to move 91 yards to tie the game.
It didn't seem like a good bet, given that Weeden had only completed 10-of-18 passes for 155 yards on the night – with 67 of those coming on one pass.
"That's a real good defense we were playing against out there," Weeden said. "They've got a good coordinator and really good players. They play tight coverage and they held us in check for most of the night."
The Saints couldn't hold him in check with the game on the line, though. Operating mainly out of an empty formation, Weeden needed just four plays to move into the New Orleans red zone. He completed passes of 24, 28 and 19 to Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley, respectively, upping his completion percentage to 62 percent on the night.
It all culminated with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Williams on 4th-and-7 – a play that the Cowboys had dialed up unsuccessfully on several occasions in the game.
"On the last play to tie the game, I looked for Witten first, but the option was to Terrance and I noticed him wide open down the sideline," Weeden said.
Weeden wouldn't get a chance to build on the possession. The Saints' game-winning touchdown on the second play of overtime prevented him from touching the ball again.
"I know we didn't get the ball back, and that's real tough," he said. "Looking at it, we know we have a lot of things to clean up."
At the very least, it was an effective ending to an up-and-down performance. As noted earlier, Weeden will want back several throws – including a potential touchdown to Williams earlier in the game. He also wasn't able to prevent the offense from stalling at times, as the Cowboys punted on three of their five second-half possessions and went three-and-out twice.
"I know when I get on the plane and head home I'll think about what I could have done to make a difference and win the game," Weeden said. "That's tough, because I know if I had done that we would've had a better chance to win the game. It all comes down to execution."
Asked about his backup quarterback afterward, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones summed up the situation perfectly.
"I thought he did real good. He did good all night long," Jones said. "He does some real good things, though it's not quite apples and oranges when the guy on the other side of the deal is Brees."