NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- For the New Orleans Saints Donte'
Stallworth's big day was too little too late. For the Dallas
Cowboys it was a negative end to a positive turnaround.
Stallworth's 76-yard touchdown reception in the Saints' 13-7
victory over the Cowboys on Sunday sent Dallas into the playoffs on
a down note and New Orleans home happier.
"I'm just disappointed," Dallas coach Bill Parcells said.
"When you don't get your best and you don't do your best, it's
The Saints (8-8), who will miss the playoffs for the third
straight year, responded to a tongue-lashing from owner Tom Benson
and a team meeting Friday night.
Dallas (10-6) had already clinched a playoff spot, but the loss
dropped the Cowboys to the sixth seed in the NFC. The real winner
was Seattle, which sneaked into the No. 5 seed under the NFL's
complicated playoff formula.
After three straight 5-11 seasons, the Cowboys have had a
remarkable turnaround in Parcells' first season as coach. Dallas
clinched its first playoff spot since 1999 last week, which might
have led to a letdown against the Saints.
Benson told the coaching staff Tuesday during an emotional
meeting that he was extremely disappointed with the season. He said
both the team and coaches underachieved, and he wanted them to
finish on a strong note.
After Sunday's victory, Benson hugged coach Jim Haslett on the
"It could have been better, but we ended on a high note,"
Benson said. "Now we have to get ready for next year."
Haslett stressed the game was their last chance to redeem
themselves this year.
"Our team played hard all year," Haslett said. "We haven't
always played the smartest and we didn't execute as well as we
should have down the stretch."
Dallas stopped the run and limited Saints running back Deuce
McAllister to 49 yards. The Cowboys' defense, which led the league
in allowing 251 yards per game, gave up 291 to New Orleans.
Aaron Brooks completed 15-of-32 for 243 yards and a touchdown.
"Somebody had to step up and make a play," Bellamy said. "It
just so happened to be me. I tried to seal the deal and that's what
The Saints capped an eight-minute opening drive with a 24-yard
field goal. Dallas came back with its own time-consuming drive,
using 8:32 in the second quarter to go 93 yards. Richie Anderson's
3-yard reception put the Cowboys ahead 7-3.
The lead lasted only 27 seconds. That's how long it took Brooks
to hit Stallworth with a 76-yard touchdown pass. Stallworth, who
missed five games and most of a sixth with injuries, caught the
ball in traffic and outran everyone, giving New Orleans a 10-7 lead
Unlike teammate Joe Horn, Stallworth didn't pull a cell phone
out after the TD.
But he was talking to Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman as he
crossed the goal line, then flipped Newman the football, earning a
15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
Newman tossed the ball back to Stallworth.
"He was talking a little out there," Newman said. "Joe Horn
was talking from the sideline, egging him on."
Horn, who missed the game with a shoulder injury, was among the
first to congratulate Stallworth. The play happened in the same end
zone where Horn's stunt earned him a $30,000 fine.
John Carney, who missed a tying extra point as time expired in a
20-19 loss to Jacksonville a week ago, hit two field goals. His
second field goal, from 27 yards in the third quarter, stretched
the Saints' lead to 13-7.
^NOTES:@ An 10-6 finish gives the Cowboy their best record since
they were 10-6 in 1998. ... The Cowboys will appear in the playoffs
for the 27th time in 44 regular seasons ... New Orleans RB Deuce
McAllister's 49 rushing yards left him 34 yards short of the 83 he
needed to break the team single-season rushing record of 1,674
yards set in 1981 by George Rogers ... Cowboys DT La'Roi Glover,
named to the Pro Bowl twice while playing at New Orleans from 1997
to 2001, ranks sixth in Saints history with 50.5 sacks ... The
Saints sold out their 29th straight game at the 72,000-seat
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