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Cowboys Fall Short Of Saints On Turkey Day 30-27

Going into this game Saints fans were calling today “Saintsgiving”. It lived up to that billing this afternoon in Dallas. The Cowboys wanted to give their fans something to really be thankful for, and they almost did. In the end, they fell only minutes short of pulling off a Thanksgiving Day upset. Instead, it was the Saints who held onto a 3 point lead with just under two minutes remaining to stave off heart ache.

The game started in dreadful fashion for the Cowboys. The were unable to stop the Saints on the opening possession of the game and New Orleans marched down the field in less than two minutes and took a 7-0 lead on a Chris Ivory 3-yard touchdown run.

The Cowboys offense responded by coming out sloppy and out of sync. Kitna looked bad and the running game was unable to get any traction against a stingy New Orleans defense. The Cowboys gave the ball back to the Saints when New Orleans DE Will Smith jumped up to block a wide receiver screen to Dez Bryant. The ball hit Smith in the face and landed in his hands for the interception. The Saints were unable to take advantage of the great field position and settled for a Garrett Hartley 50-yard field goal.

Dallas got the ball back and continued their lack-luster play as on third down, C Andre Gurode fired a shotgun snap passed an unsuspecting Kitna who was forced to race back and cover it at his 8-yard line. McBriar came into punt and the Saints got the ball back with great field position, again. After Drew Brees hit WR Devrey Henderson on what appeared to be a 28-yard touchdown strike over the middle, Jason Garrett threw the challenge flag and the play was ruled Henderson down at the 6-yard line. The call only delayed the inevitable as Chris Ivory score on a 6-yard touchdown, his second of the game, making it 17-0 in the first quarter.

After the Cowboys drove the ball deep into Saints territory, RB Marion Barber was stopped short on a 4th-and-1 play giving the Saints the ball back and a chance to turn the game into a blowout. But the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back to Kitna and the offense. The Boys were able to chew up some yards and then settled for a David Buehler 21-yard field goal to get on the board.

The teams exchanged field goals before the half, highlighted by Buehler’s career long 53-yarder which ended the half at 20-6.

While most Cowboys fans might have left the game to take out their frustrations on some turkey and stuffing, the Cowboys decided they wanted to make a game of it.

Dallas took the ball to start the second half and ran a reverse with Miles Austin that netted 60-yards and a touchdown. The play was made possible by a great block on the edge by WR Roy Williams. Austin scampered down the sideline and brought life into the Cowboys and their quiet fans. It seemed at that point momentum shifted and after the Saints were able to grab another Hartley field goal, the Cowboys got the ball back down 10.

The drive was sloppy and penalty filled and the Cowboys punted. On the return, “4th and Long” star, Jesse Holley made a great play by stripping Reggie Bush and the Cowboys recovered the ball in the Saint’s red zone. Kitna led them to the goal line where Barber smashed it in from a yard out. The Cowboys closed the third quarter down 23-20 and with momentum on their side.

The teams exchanged possessions until midway through the fourth quarter when Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh picked off a tipped Brees pass giving the Cowboys the ball in decent field position. Kitna drove the team down the field mixing the run and pass well. The Cowboys would take the lead on a Tashard Choice 1-yard touchdown plunge.

The Cowboys forced a Saints punt and looked to run out the clock. Facing a 3rd and 6 from their 42-yard line, Kitna hit Williams on a slant. Williams raced down the center of the field to the New Orleans 11-yard line where he was stripped of the ball from behind by Saints defensive back Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins alertly grabbed Williams by the arm and ripped the ball out as they were falling to the ground. New Orleans took over and unleashed their full arsenal on the Cowboys defense. The Saints took only 5 plays and 1:08 to go 89 yards and score a Lance Moore 12-yard touchdown reception to take a 30-27 lead. The drive was made possible by a beautiful 55-yard pass from Brees to Robert Meachem. Meachem had beaten Terrance Newman down the sideline and Brees hit him right in stride for the big play.

The Cowboys got the ball back with just under two minutes to go. Kitna led the team to the Saints 42-yard line, where Garrett decided to try a 59-yard field goal attempt to send the game to overtime. Buehler lined up to kick the ball and Saints coach Sean Payton tried to call a timeout to ice him. The referees did not grant Payton a timeout and Buehler’s kick sailed just to the outside of the left upright. Brees came out an kneeled down to run the clock out.

In what looked like a blowout in the beginning turned out to be a very entertaining game. While the Cowboys fell short, they showed tremendous fight in coming back from a 17 point deficit, a hole they would have crawled into earlier in the season. While Roy Williams will likely blame himself for the loss, the Cowboys defense continued to struggle and show that it is just a shell of last year’s unit. Brees was able to torch them through the air putting up 352 yards in the game. Still, it was a demonstration of fight and heart that, until Garrett took over, this team had lacked.

The Saints improved to 8-3, while the Cowboys fell down to 3-8 and keep their hopes of a high draft pick alive. The Cowboys will take 10 days off before traveling to Indianapolis for another tough matchup against the equally as dangerous Colts.

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