The Cowboys have won six games in a row and not only with total control of the NFC East, but in a dominant way that also put them in a position to try to secure the No.1 seed in the conference. . The Saints were 5-2 and barely come off a win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – set to make waves in the NFC South and maybe more. But early in their prime-time battle in Week 13, the Cowboys have lost three of their last four games and the Saints have lost four in a row.
Something had to give way for one of those clubs, and it did, with the Cowboys using their defense to subdue Taysom Hill and suppress another patchy performance from their offensive counterparts.
Why the Cowboys won
It was Dak Prescott and Co. that drew the first blood, in a first-quarter practice that looked a lot like the usually prolific squad the NFL has grown used to seeing from Dallas – big plays both coming from both. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb (who both returned in week 13) and topped off with a twist touchdown from Michael Gallup. Not to be outdone, Taysom Hill returned to work in an effort to defend himself as a permanent starter for the Saints, and he enlisted the help of wide Lil’Jordan Humphrey on a 24-yard touchdown to open the second quarter.
But just when you thought it would turn into a barn burner, things cooled offensively again, and the Cowboys maintained a six-point lead that the Saints hoped they could prevent from becoming something else – especially as Dallas had the first offensive possession of the second half.
Hill and the Saints threatened to touch terror for the second time in the first half, but rookie sensation Micah Parsons and the Cowboys defense wouldn’t. Parsons stepped back in cover on second and 10 of the Dallas 26-yard line to deliver a pass that landed almost harmlessly on the turf, if not for safety Jayron Kearse diving while simultaneously sliding both feet to get an interception thunderbolt on the Dallas 5-yard line, grabbing a takeout that served as Hill’s punch.
From there, it was an all-out attack from the Cowboys defense that reigned over the day – netting four interceptions in the evening and in so doing, tying a franchise mark established in December 2010 – which even included a pick from six from defensive lineman Carlos Watkins. A two-game losing streak is now over for Dallas, and that can thank Dan Quinn (who also served as interim head coach) and his defense for stealing the gumbo from Sean Payton’s kitchen.
Why the Saints lost
Things didn’t start much better for either team’s offense early in the third quarter, with the Cowboys scoring three goals and their first possession of the second half before Hill found himself again. in the next practice for the Saints, but it ended with a field goal from kicker Brett Maher. But, just like that, the electricity found its way onto the field, but not for the Saints. It was running back Tony Pollard exploding for a 58-yard touchdown run that shocked Payton’s squad and was hay the Saints never quite recovered from.
Hill tried to impose his will once again, through an unforgettable hurdle against safety Damontae Kazee, but Parsons showed up again – a critical third sack giving him 10 on the season. That takedown opened the fourth quarter with flying colors for the Cowboys defense, who then took the entire box cover off, well, you know.
Although Prescott made a misguided shot that became an easy choice for cornerback Marshon Lattimore, with the interception giving Hill another chance to try and shake things up, they still couldn’t capitalize. In fact, the wheels fell off completely instead, with Hill throwing a second interception (this time on a reverse throw by Jourdan Lewis and caught by Kazee) followed by a third (giving Trevon Diggs his ninth INT of the season), then a fourth (a choice of six by Watkins) to effectively bury New Orleans in its own stadium.
With a huge opportunity to prove he can be the quarterback of the future for the Saints, and soon after signing a hefty hybrid extension that would net him millions more if he did, Hill instead showed the world that he was still good at running football, but not so much at throwing it – making just 19 of his 41 passes to go along with those four interceptions and a 44.2 passer rating. The Saints needed him to cook, as a quarterback, but all he did was burn the jambalaya.
After trading interceptions and the Saints still hoping for a miracle, it was an interception and touchdown by a great Watkins man that nailed the coffin in New Orleans.
Tony Pollard called the match.
This lamb is not a sheep
“It feels good to leave the house with a voice over to come home. – CeeDee Lamb, via Jon Machota from athleticism
The Cowboys will prepare to face the Washington soccer team in their first battle of 2021, while the Saints will head east to take on the New York Jets.