- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: Just in case anyone fell asleep on the Saints over the past few weeks, they woke everyone up with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. Their 625 yards were a franchise record and the most by any NFL team since 1982. They converted a NFL-record 40 first downs.
All it took was the Saints getting back in their comfort zone -- at home in prime time, where they have been untouchable over the past five years, winning 12 straight. Now the job will be for the Saints to make sure they’re playing back here in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as much as possible in the postseason. And that won’t be easy. Their schedule is grueling over the next six weeks -- including a Monday night game at the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2.
Stock watch: Just about everyone on the Saints’ offense got involved. Receiver Marques Colston (seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown) and running back Darren Sproles (88 combined yards, two touchdowns) helped to ease the stress of their fantasy owners after a few quiet weeks. But the biggest surprise was running back Mark Ingram, who ran for a career-high 145 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Ingram was actually booed by the home crowd early in the game when he dropped a short pass. That’s how far his stock had fallen with the fan base after a slow start to the season, followed by a lingering toe injury. But he exploded in the second half -- and showed a lot of emotion throughout.
Ryan’s revenge: The happiest guy in the building, however, had to be Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Although he downplayed the significance during the week, you know he was dying to make the Cowboys regret firing him after last season. He did that with an exclamation point. The Saints gave up a few leaky running yards early, but they shut down Dallas’ passing attack. Tony Romo completed just 10 of 24 passes for 128 yards, and Dez Bryant caught just one pass for 44 yards.
Up next: The Saints will be back home next week, but the test gets stiffer against a physical San Francisco 49ers team that has given them matchup troubles over the past two years. The Saints will prove even more with a win in that game before hitting the road for trips to Atlanta and Seattle.