Destiny couldn't slow pass rush as New Orleans loses for the first time
A New Orleans Saints fan mulls over his team's 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night. The Saints fell behind early, allowing touchdowns on the Cowboys' first two possessions, and couldn't recover from first-half mishaps.
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NEW ORLEANS -- What seemed written in the stars was rewritten by the guys wearing them.
The perfect-season bid of New Orleans was derailed Saturday by the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise that wasn't supposed to be able to win in December and certainly not against the Saints and their No. 1-ranked offense.
But the Cowboys did win, picking up a huge 24-17 victory at the Superdome that tightened their grip on a playoff berth and might have been the best performance by Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
He threw for 312 yards and a touchdown, had no turnovers, and several times used his feet to scramble out of trouble or gain crucial yards. He has never won a playoff game, true, but this was the closest thing to one.
"Everyone was talking about them, and no one was talking about us," Romo said. "And I think, as a team, that motivated us a lot. We knew coming here tonight, playing an undefeated team here in their building, that this was going to be a real tough challenge.
"We knew coming in the significance of the game -- that they were undefeated and chasing history. So for us, this one feels real, real good."
It was the first December win in five tries for the Cowboys (9-5), who have matched the win total of NFC East-leading Philadelphia and are 11/2 games ahead of the New York Giants for the last wild-card spot.
While the Saints were chasing history, the Cowboys were chasing New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees -- and getting to him. The home team's offensive line was utterly overwhelmed, caving in down after down as outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer crashed in from the edges. Each recorded two sacks.
"Early on, we contained it pretty well," said Brees, whose last-gasp drive ended at midfield in the final 10 seconds when Ware sacked him and -- for the second time -- stripped the ball.
"Unfortunately, when you get down, they can pin their ears back and not worry about the run at all."
There was plenty of blame to go around. The Saints dropped a lot of passes, including a sure touchdown, and left tackle Jermon Bushrod could barely slow Ware, let alone stop him.
The performance was especially impressive by Ware, considering it came six days after he was wheeled off the field on a stretcher in a home game against San Diego. Ware had to pass a physical exam by team doctors Saturday before he got the go-ahead to play.
Ware said he and others on the team got a little extra motivation after watching a tape -- provided by coach Wade Phillips -- of analyst Tony Dungy essentially ruling out a Cowboys victory.
"When somebody says that you can't do something and counts you out before you even play, that puts gas on the fire," Ware said. "Once we watched that tape and went to bed that night, it marinated in our heads."
First Published December 21, 2009 12:00 am