As the New Orleans Saints’ 10-game winning streak grew in length over the past several weeks, there was always the question of which game on their remaining 2018 Regular Season schedule would prove to be their most difficult challenge. Last night at AT&T Stadium, the Saints got their answer — but not exactly the one that they and Who Dat fans were looking for.
New Orleans, which was averaging a League-leading 37.2 points per game coming into last night’s contest, only managed to gain 176 total yards worth of offense as the Black and Gold were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys in a stunning 13-10 upset and fell to (10-2 ) on the season. With the loss, the Saints now suddenly find themselves one half-game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the race for the #1 Playoff seed in the NFC.
The 176 yards was the lowest yardage total ever in the entire Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era (since 2006), and it’s also the fewest by any previous Saints team dating all the way back to since the 2001 season. Credit the Saints’ lack of production to a tough Dallas defense that essentially dominated the contest and became the first NFL defense this season to slow down Brees, who is having one of the best seasons ever in NFL history for a quarterback.
In last night’s contest, Brees had an off night by his standards, as the 18-year veteran completed 18 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown, and threw what proved to be a costly interception with only 2:08 left, while the Saints were still trailing 13-10 and had an opportunity to make what could have been a game-winning drive. Brees’ 127 passing yards were the 2nd second-fewest that he’s thrown for in his entire 13 years with the Saints.
— NFL (@NFL) November 30, 2018
The Cowboys defense was the main catalyst for Brees and the Saints offense’s struggles, as the Dallas pass rush was able to generate consistent pressure against the future Hall of Famer like no other NFL team has been able to do this season.
While the (7-5) Cowboys defense only recorded two sacks, they constantly harassed the 39-year old and completely disrupted his timing and rhythm — which ultimately led to some inaccurate passes such as the one that essentially ended the game.
Brees’ interception was only his 3rd interception of the entire year. His pass was originally intended for running back Alvin Kamara but was intercepted by Dallas cornerback Jourdan Lewis, allowing the Cowboys to take possession and basically run out the game clock.
The Saints were behind for the entire length of the contest and never once led the game, a rarity for a New Orleans offense that had been dominant itself coming into the game. But the Black and Gold only managed to gain a paltry 59 yards in the 1st half and were kept scoreless as Dallas took a 13-0 halftime lead. In the process, the Saints had their NFL-leading streak of 71 consecutive games without being shut out in a 1st half, come to an end as well.
The Saints were able to generate a bit of a comeback and scored 10 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter on a Wil Lutz field goal and a Brees 30 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keith Kirkwood to close the score to within 13-10 heading into the 4th, but the Cowboys’ interior pressure proved to be the deciding factor as Brees and the Saints offense were held off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
— NFL (@NFL) November 30, 2018
Unfortunately for the Saints and their passionate fans, there isn’t any time to dwell much on last night’s loss as New Orleans continually needs to play to win each week, while trying to keep up with the Rams in the race for the #1 playoff seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFL Playoffs.
Up next for New Orleans will be a game at Tampa Bay a week from this coming Sunday (December 9th), before they travel to face the Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina on ESPN Monday Night Football December 17th. The Black and Gold then closes out its 2018 Regular Season schedule with a game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 23rd, and then once more against the Panthers on December 30th in the season finale at the Superdome.
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. You can view the rest of his Saints coverage and several feature articles here.