ARLINGTON, Texas — Drew Brees and the historic New Orleans Saints offense came crashing back down to earth Thursday night as their 10-game win streak was snapped by the Dallas Cowboys in a 13-10 slugfest.
Forget “Jerry World.” This was more like “Bizarro World.”
Brees, who is having one of the best quarterback seasons in NFL history, completed just 18 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and a stunning interception with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left when the Saints were still trailing by three points.
And the Saints, who were averaging an NFL-best 37.2 points per game, gained only 176 total yards while falling to 10-2 on the season — a half-game behind the Los Angeles Rams in a tight NFC race.
“I felt like we didn’t really find a rhythm for pretty much the whole game,” said Brees, whose 127 passing yards were his second fewest when he played a full game in 13 years with the Saints. “I guess we may have had one decent drive. … So credit to them.”
Brees said he doesn’t think the Saints lost their focus coming into the game.
“No. This was the next game, it was a big game. It was the most important game of the season because it was a big game,” Brees said. “We just came out and didn’t play with the tempo and rhythm, I think, that we’re used to.”
The Cowboys, meanwhile, won their fourth consecutive game to climb to 7-5 on the season by manhandling the Saints all night (as Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence colorfully suggested they would try to do earlier this week).
Brees started the game 0-for-4 passing for the first time in his 18-year career. And it never really got better than that. The Saints’ only touchdown came on a drive when the Cowboys were assessed with 41 penalty yards, including roughing the punter.
“[The Cowboys] played a heck of a game, deserved to win the game. … It starts with us as coaches, the plan going in,” coach Sean Payton said. “There will be a lot we watch on tape, and regret certain plays. But before we get into any of that, you really gotta tip your hat to the way they played.”
Sean Payton says the helmet-to-helmet hit on Alvin Kamara is a tough play to call and the bottom line is the Saints got beat.
Brees was sacked twice Thursday after being sacked a total of two times over his previous six games. His interception (by Dallas cornerback Jourdan Lewis) was especially uncharacteristic — thrown well behind running back Alvin Kamara while the Saints were backed up deep in their own territory. The Cowboys were able to kneel out the clock to seal the game.
The Saints gained only 59 yards in the first half while being shut out 13-0 — and their 176 total yards were their fewest since the 2001 season. They had a league-leading streak of 71 games without being shut out in the first half that ended as well.
The Saints were especially hot over the past four weeks, averaging 44 points per game, before Thursday’s big flop in Big D.
This was the second-longest win streak in Saints history — and the other one, when they started 13-0 in 2009, coincidentally was also snapped by the Cowboys. The Saints bounced back to win the only Super Bowl in franchise history that season.
“S—, we was on a good run, you know. And we’ve just gotta get back to the drawing board,” running back Mark Ingram said. “… [The Cowboys] just played hard, they did a good job. We didn’t do enough.”
Ingram said the focus now is to make sure a game like Thursday’s isn’t repeated.
“I’m not worried about it. We’ll be just fine,” Ingram said. “We’ve still got the same playmakers. … We good. We just gotta fix it. We didn’t do enough today. We just need to make sure that this never happens again.”