|ESPN.com: ESPNDallas||[Print without images]|
The Dallas Cowboys ran the ball effectively enough to dominate time of possession (36:26), keeping the New Orleans Saints' explosive offense on the sideline for long stretches. Marion Barber (17 carries, 62 yards) didn't have an impressive yards-per-carry average, but he finished drives. He had his first two touchdowns since Nov. 1. Felix Jones (14 carries, 58 yards) was solid. Tashard Choice's only carry was a 4-yard gain out of the Razorback that moved the chains on third down in the red zone.
To put it simply, Tony Romo was spectacular. He was by far the best quarterback on the field Saturday night despite competing against an MVP candidate on the other sideline. Romo completed 22 of 34 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown and still hasn't committed a turnover this month. His 49-yard touchdown strike to Miles Austin (seven catches, 139 yards) set the tone. Romo created several key plays with his elusiveness, whether it was scrambling for a first down or buying extra time to find open receivers.
Reggie Bush had a 29-yard run, but that's the only significant play the Saints made in the running game. After falling behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, the Saints were forced to abandon the run. New Orleans' trio of tailbacks carried only 11 times. The Saints weren't able to take advantage of untested rookie outside linebacker Victor Butler playing in the base defense.
Drew Brees threw for 298 yards, but he didn't get in any sort of rhythm until the fourth quarter. The Cowboys kept the league's best big-play offense from throwing the ball downfield, with Brees going 0-of-8 on throws longer than 15 yards. Credit a ferocious pass rush, led by outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware, who had two sacks apiece against a New Orleans team that allowed only 15 sacks during its 13-0 start. Cornerback Mike Jenkins, who had an interception, performed like a Pro Bowler.
The Cowboys can't continue with Nick Folk as kicker after his 24-yard attempt, which would have sealed the win with a little more than two minutes remaining, clanked off the upright. He has missed seven of his last 11 attempts. The kickoff coverage team can thank the defense that a 67-yard return didn't cost the Cowboys. Dallas did get good results from its return game, with Felix Jones averaging 30.0 yards on kickoffs and Patrick Crayton averaging 17.5 yards on punts.