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Saints vs. Cowboys: Week 13 quick observations

The Saint fell to the Dallas Cowboys 13-10, and looked to never have shown up for this game.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since the Who Dat Nation has felt this way. Not only did the Saints lose, but it’s how they lost that is most maddening. The defense continuously gave up plays and weren’t able to get off the field on third downs. The offense was unable to find any rhythm and looked uncharacteristically off, as they only put up 10 points all game. Even with an opportunity to win it at the end, the almost flawless Drew Brees threw a game sealing interception. Here’s some quick observations:

Flipping the script

The Cowboys offense came out looking more like the Saints than the Saints have in recent weeks. Normally, it’s the Saints that march down the field on their opening drive. Instead, they started the game with three 3-and-outs, before finally getting to the goal line but failing to drive the ball in on four attempts. That decision to go for it rather than kicking the field goal loomed costly at the end of the game, as the Saints would go on to lose by 3 points. One can’t blame Sean Payton for the gamble though, as his aggressive nature is part of this team’s identity, and entering the game they were 11-of-12 on fourth down conversions.

Drops, drops, drops

I don’t have the exact number, but I cannot remember the last time I saw that many drops coming from Saints receivers. Even the sure-handed Michael Thomas dropped a couple of routine catches, which stalled a couple of drives. Payton surely won’t be happy about this, and you can imagine that will be a point of emphasis at practice this week. Thomas, Kamara, Kirkwood, and Arnold were all guilty of bonehead drops that could have flipped the script in this game.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Suffocating D

Dallas’ defense did everything needed to bring the Saints offense to a screeching halt. The front seven were able to limit Kamara and Ingram to only 63 yards on the ground. The secondary, who had help from the interior pressure, limited the MVP front runner to a measly 127 yards through the air with one touchdown and one game sealing interception. The line also gave Brees issues all day, continuously putting pressure in his face and bringing him down twice behind the line for two sacks.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Seven Sack Dak

With how horribly the rest of the units played for much of the day, the defensive line did everything they could to keep the Saints in this game. David Onyemata had a career day registering three sacks and would help the defense bring Dak Prescott down seven times. They also limited Ezekiel Elliott to 76 yards, although Prescott was able to gain 22 yards with the majority of that coming on a key third down.

The race for the NFC number one spot just got a little harder, as the Los Angeles Rams will have to falter and lose one game while the Saints need to win out if they want home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Another two away games lay ahead before we come home to face the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers at home to finish off the season.