Well, that was a lot of fun.
Following a week of doom and gloom after an unexpected 26-20 loss to the New York Jets, the Who Dat Nation now have plenty to be excited about. If you were the one of many that were critical of the Saints following that loss, your reasoning was probably valid and your concerns were probably fixed on Sunday night. Well, at least for one night. One really, really fun night.
I mean, where do we start? What we witnessed on Sunday night was one of the most dominant overall performances in the Payton era. All that I can do was smile for four quarters. Actually, I am still smiling right now. Maybe it's because I love to see my favorite team fire on all cylinders. Maybe it also has to do with beating the stuffing out of "America's Team".
The Saints set a franchise record for total offensive yards (625) in a regular season game while also setting an NFL record for most first downs in a game (40). While the Saints collected 40 first downs, the Cowboys only ran 43 offensive plays! That's incredible!
Pierre Thomas had his best game of the season with 111 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Following any other Sunday, Saints fans would once again be singing the praises of what putting the ball in Pierre's hands can do.
But not today. MARK INGRAM, probably the most unlikely of players to break out big in this game, managed to carry the ball 14 times for 145 yards (10.4 yards per carry!) with one rushing TD. He even caught two passes for 15 yards. Ingram ran like he bottled up months of frustration for his poor play and then poured it on the entire Cowboys defense. While my faith in Ingram was all but tapped out, I found myself cheering and clapping loudest when Ingram exploded for good run after good run. That was fun to see.
The Saints rushed for 242 yards on Sunday. The most rushing yards in a game since 1990. Yes, THIS Saints team. The one with the struggling offensive line, the one that had no confidence whatsoever rushing the football against the Jets a week ago. Yes, I understand that the Cowboys are decimated with injuries on defense and to compare the two defenses would be stupid, but in the sweetest of scenarios, I still did not picture the Saints rushing for 242 yards. That was also fun to see.
Tony Romo was 10 of 24 passing for 128 yards with 1 touchdown pass and no interceptions. His 41.7% completion rate was the lowest of his NFL career as a starting quarterback and his 128 passing yards was his lowest total since September 20th, 2009, when Romo's Cowboys only lost by 2 to the New York Giants despite Romo's dreadful 127 yard passing game. But this part may be the most fun to say: Mark Ingram had MORE RUSHING YARDS than Tony Romo had passing yards. That may never happen again in the same week or even season, but it happened in this game.
As a matter of fact, Ingram's total yards of offense (160) were only 33 yards shy of the ENTIRE Cowboys offense (193). Wow. They didn't convert in a single third down situation. This happened featuring a secondary without Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper and a defense that was even without Kenny Vaccaro for a good part of the second half. Still, the Saints defense even minimized the "garbage production". That is always fun to see.
Dez Bryant had only one catch on two targets for 44 yards. And he almost dropped that one catch. It was the first time in 17 games that Bryant was held to one catch (last time was against Atlanta just over a year ago). Yes, the same Dez Bryant that destroyed Patrick Robinson and the Saints last season for 9 catches, 224 yards, and 2 TDs. Keenan Lewis is turning out to be exactly what this defense needed. He did a fantastic job against arguably one of the three best wide receivers in football.
Five individual Saints had more receptions than Dez Bryant and Jason Witten combined. We can say all that we want about how inferior the Cowboys' defense was, but I don't think anyone expected this Cowboy offense to perform so poorly.
In twelve possessions, Dallas punted eight times and had one to end the half. Of the eight possessions where the Cowboys punted the ball, Dallas never crossed their own 37 yard line.
Dallas' second possession was the result of Darren Sproles muffing a punt, which resulted in a drive of 4 net yards and a field goal by Dallas. Despite the fact that Dallas had the opportunity to start at the New Orleans 22 yard line, all they could get was 3.
The Cowboys even earned an extra possession with what was a surprising onside kick recovered by the Cowboys. The surprising play and any potential shot at making a run towards a comeback ended with a possession that netted -11 yards and a punt.
The two Cowboy touchdown drives earned the Cowboys 156 of their 193 offensive yards, which means that the Cowboys earned a total of 37 offensive yards in the other nine possessions. What a dominant performance by the defense as a unit.
Then of course, the Saints offense scored 7 TDs, missed a field goal, punted once, and ended the game on ten possessions. The Saints never finished a drive in their own territory. That was about as good as it gets.
So let's cook up some gumbo. Get the jambalaya ready. Let's enjoy this win all week and look forward to a challenging battle at home with the San Francisco 49ers.
More from Canal Street Chronicles:
- Saints vs. Cowboys Player Grades: Defense and Special Teams
- Saints vs. Cowboys NBC Sunday Night Football Photo Recap
- Saints vs. Cowboys Player Grades: Offense
- Saints vs. Cowboys Sunday Night Football Recap: Links, Tweets, & Video From the Saints' 49-17 Domination of the Cowboys
- Cowboys vs. Saints Final Score: New Orleans Wins 49-17 as Saints set new NFL Record