Stats & Info: Jon Kitna

The New Orleans Saints hit the road to face the Dallas Cowboys, and while Dallas appears to be surging, history is on New Orleans’ side. Defending Super Bowl champions are 6-2 on Thanksgiving Day since the merger and haven't lost since 1993.

More than 81 percent of Jon Kitna’s pass attempts have traveled 14 yards or fewer down field in 2010. In his two weeks as a full-time starter under Wade Phillips, Kitna threw these short passes in bulk and found little success.

But in the last two weeks, with the Cowboys committed to the run, it has opened up the intermediate pass routes.

This should prove to be a decisive battle, as the Saints have allowed a passer rating of 76.1 on passes thrown 14 yards or fewer, the fourth-best mark in the NFL.

And another change that has taken place under Jason Garrett should have an impact when the Saints have the ball. Look for the Cowboys to employ a standard pass rush after sending five or more pass rushers on nearly half of all pass plays (46.2%) when Wade Phillips was in charge. That tactic rarely worked, as Dallas allowed 11 passing touchdowns and a 118.1 passer rating when rushing five or more.

Drew Brees
Brees
But in the last two weeks, the Cowboys have blitzed less than half as often (19.4%) and have the same number of interceptions in those instances (one) as in the previous eight games combined.

They will likely stick to that conservative defensive scheme against the Saints because Drew Brees has the third-highest passer rating against five or more pass rushers since 2008.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 33-20 Sunday night, avenging a 41-35 loss to the Giants in Week 7. Jason Garrett wins his first game as head coach, the biggest road win ever posted by an NFL head coach immediately after a midseason coaching change, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Coincidentally, Garrett matched the largest margin of victory immediately following a mid-season change since … Wade Phillips. The former Cowboys head coach made his NFL head-coaching debut by leading the Saints to a 29–3 win over the Rams 25 years ago after replacing his dad, Bum Phillips.

Here are a few things that made a difference in the game:

• The Cowboys took more shots down the field, throwing more than 20 yards downfield on 22.7 percent of their pass attempts. Prior to Sunday, the Cowboys had only thrown more than 20 yards downfield on 8.5 percent of pass attempts.

• The Cowboys ran three screen plays Sunday against the Giants, racking up 117 yards and a Felix Jones touchdown. In their first eight games, the Cowboys picked up 138 yards on 23 screen attempts and no touchdowns.

In the teams’ first meeting of the season in Week 7, Dallas also ran three screen plays, but netted just seven yards.

• Eli Manning was 4-for-4 with 3 touchdowns in the red zone against the Cowboys in Week 7, but on Sunday he struggled. Manning threw two interceptions in the red zone in Week 10 after throwing just one pick in his previous eight games.
Jon Kitna
Kitna
Tony Romo will miss six-to-eight weeks with a broken clavicle, and the 1-5 Dallas Cowboys turn to veteran Jon Kitna in his absence. The pressure will be on Kitna to turn around the Cowboys' season -- figuratively and literally.

Only Drew Brees has a better completion percentage than Romo this season when teams rush five or more players. Romo’s elusiveness has also made him a tough quarterback to sack, having been taken down just once against the added pass rush.

In 20 attempts Monday night when the New York Giants sent five or more pass rushers, Kitna completed just 33.3 percent of his passes and was sacked twice.

And he better get used to it -- Kitna faced added pressure on 55.6 percent of the plays where he dropped back to pass.

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