The offensive stats were staggering: a regular season franchise record 625 total yards, an NFL record 40 first downs and a whopping 2-1 ratio in time of possession, but credit also goes to the Black-and-Gold defense, which rebounded from a slow start to stymie the Cowboys' vaunted passing attack and hold Dallas without a single third-down conversion (0-9).
"When that game became one-dimensional, I think it really favored us early on," Sean Payton said. "They had some big runs. I thought on the defensive side of the ball we contested the passing game well. We got off pressure and I thought it was a good team win. But I thought defensively against a pretty good offense, we did a good job of contesting throws and getting through that early portion of the game where they had two big runs. I thought that was important."
And one of the best examples of complementary football came late in the second quarter, with the Cowboys pinned deep inside their own territory, the Saints defense came up with a quick 3 and out, giving Drew Brees and company the ball back with under a minute to play.
According to coach Payton, the offense was thinking, much more than a field goal, it was time to cash in.
"Certainly we were thinking protect the ball, we were in field goal range, but I don't think, I think we were thinking we have a timeout, I know Drew was thinking let's score. I know we were thinking the same thing."
Six plays later, Drew Brees set up a screen to Darren Sproles, who sprinted his way to the endzone, a 28-10 lead, and a result that was well in the home team's control.
"You can do that if you have a timeout, you can't if you don't. Darren made a great run after the catch, it was well blocked and well executed."
And the second half was more of the same as the Cowboys totaled just 193 yards for the game. The Saints used defensive dominance to complement flawless offensive execution.
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