Week 12’s edition of Thursday Night Football featured two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. The Dallas Cowboys (7-5) and the New Orleans Saints (10-2). When all was said and done, the Cowboys pulled off the upset over the visiting Saints 13-10. Dallas’ defense shined against one of the top scoring offenses in the league this year. Having put up over 30 points in each of their last four games, the Saints offense struggled all night against a swarming Cowboys defense. The Saints failed to amass 200 total yards on offense in their loss, and MVP-candidate quarterback Drew Brees threw for just 127 yards for one touchdown and one interception on 18 of 28 attempts.
Before this loss, the Saints had won their last 10 straight games. Coming into this matchup, The Cowboys, on the other hand, were on a roll themselves. Having won their last four games against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-6), the Atlanta Falcons (4-7), the Washington Redskins (6-5), and most recently the New Orleans Saints. Aside from a few careless mistakes including a running into the kicker penalty assessed towards Cowboys defensive lineman Randy Gregory on a failed punt block attempt, this team is playing as good as anyone currently.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees might have had arguably one of if not the worst game in his successful NFL career. Brees started the game out 0-4 passing for the first time ever and his 39 yards through the air were his fewest in a first half for his entire 13-year Saints career. New Orleans was shut out in the first half 13-0, the first time in 72 games. Offensively, the 59 total yards in the first half were the fewest since 2002.
This young Cowboys defense lead by linebackers Jaylon Smith and rookie first-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch have been ball hawks all season. This matchup proved that point as the two linebackers played sideline to sideline all night, with the most impressive play perhaps coming on a fourth and goal swing pass out left to the Saints’ dynamic running back Alvin Kamara where Smith covered over 15 yards on a dead sprint to stop Kamara just short of the goal line and give his offense possession. Next up for Dallas is a matchup with NFC East division rival the Philadelphia Eagles. In their first meeting this season, the Cowboys prevailed in a 27-20 back and forth game. Expect their next matchup to go similar as the Eagles are in a must-win scenario if the defending Super Bowl champions wish to make it back to the playoffs this season in an attempt to defend last year’s title.