IRVING, Texas (AP) -- No matter how much Sean Payton insisted he
wasn't trying to prove anything to Bill Parcells, Drew Brees knew
his coach was lying.
Saints QB Drew Brees, right, has thrown for 300 or more yards in 8 of his 13 appearances this season. The NFL record for 300-yard passing games in a season is 10 by Raiders QB Rich Gannon in 2002:
The facts support Brees' side of the story.
Facing his former boss for the first time, Payton called for a
reverse on a fourth-and-1 and made featured players out of guys who
had never scored. Everything he drew up worked so well that the
first-year head coach was brazen enough to call for an onside kick
while his New Orleans Saints already were well on their way to a
42-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
The onside kick worked too, by the way, making the Saints (9-4)
big winners in a showdown for sole possession of the second-best
record in the NFC.
"I have a ton of respect for Bill and all he's accomplished in
Dallas," Payton said of the man he was an assistant to for the
last three seasons. "This was two good 8-4 teams playing a big
game. It wasn't me competing against Bill. It was about the teams,
not the head coaches."
Yeah, right, said Brees, who took advantage of Payton's nifty
play-calling to match his career high with five touchdown passes,
all before the third quarter ended. The only excitement in the
fourth was Payton getting doused by a bucket of Gatorade.
"I could tell it was very special for him," said Brees, who
was 26-of-38 for 384 yards. "He didn't put a lot of added pressure
on us this week. He just went on with his business. But I could see
in the gleam in his eye at the end of the game. ... I could tell it
meant a lot."
Parcells absorbed most of this one with his lips pinched and his
arms crossed. Not even Tony Romo could save the Tuna from the
Romo had the worst game of his budding career: 16-of-33 for 249
yards, with two interceptions and a fluke touchdown to Terrell
Owens on what would have been another pickoff if cornerback Fred
Thomas wasn't wearing a cast.
"That was a pretty good licking," said Parcells, who shared a
quick handshake with Payton at game's end. "I can't think of
anything we did very well."
The Cowboys (8-5) had won four straight games and five of six.
They were playing so well that on Monday he spoke to them about
what it takes to win a championship.
Dallas still has a one-game lead over the New York and
Philadelphia in the NFC East.
"We just made some mistakes on things that we shouldn't have,"
Romo said. "We'll see what we're made of now."
With Seattle losing earlier Sunday, Dallas went out knowing the
No. 2 seed was there for the taking. Maybe it was too easy at
first, with a four-play stand by the defense followed by a 77-yard
touchdown run by Julius Jones on the Cowboys' second snap.
Hardly anything else went right for Dallas.
A defense that hadn't allowed more than 22 points in any of the
last six games gave up 21 in the second quarter, then another 21 in
the third. The offense's only other touchdown came on the fluke
grab by T.O.
"For whatever reason, we weren't ready," Dallas nose tackle
Jason Ferguson said.
Cowboys fans headed for the exits when the third quarter ended --
it was already 10 p.m., after all -- leaving the seats mostly to the
gold-and-black clad Saints fans. And there were plenty of them, as
heard every time "Dooooo-ce" McAllister got the ball, or when
"Reg-gie!" Bush did something exciting. Chants of "Who Dat?!"
rang out throughout the fourth quarter.
New Orleans has a two-game lead in the NFC South with three
games left. The Saints also are in position to grab a first-round
playoff bye for the first time in franchise history.
They certainly looked worthy to a national prime-time audience
"We let a lot of people know what we are all about," Brees
Picking up where he left off in his last game at Texas Stadium,
a championship victory for Austin high school in 1996, Brees led
New Orleans to six touchdowns in a span of seven drives over the
middle two quarters. Along the way, he took them 88 and 95 yards
for scores, plus cashed in on an interception and the onside kick.
A lot of his success came from great play-calling by Payton,
such as trusting Mike Karney, a burly fullback who had never scored
in 43 NFL games. He wound up with two receiving TDs and one
Another surprise was Jamal Jones. He had only two catches in his
10-game, two-year career, but caught a 27-yard touchdown pass in
the final minute of the first half.
On the play before, Jones was ruled to have caught a pass for a
first down at the Dallas 15. The ball came out at the end and
Parcells thought it was an incompletion, so he threw his challenge
flag. However, it was in the final 2 minutes, when all challenges
come from the booth. So he was hit with a 15-yard penalty for
Payton was more successful in his use of the red hanky, getting
an out-of-bounds call on Karney turned into his third TD. It wasn't
as dazzling as a 61-yard catch and run by Bush earlier in the third
quarter, but it proved to be more of a turning point because of the
onside kick, which led to a 42-yard touchdown pass to Devery
Bush caught six passes for 125 yards and ran six times for 37.
McAllister ran for 111 yards on 21 attempts.
Saints rookie Marques Colston caught five passes for 48 yards
after missing the two previous games with a sprained left ankle.
Jones finished with 116 yards rushing for Dallas and Terry Glenn
caught eight passes for 150 yards.
Already the NFL leader in yards passing, Brees topped 4,000
for the first time in his career. ... Jones' TD tied the
second-longest ever allowed by the Saints and matched the
fifth-longest in Cowboys history. ... Cowboys kicker Martin
Gramatica missed a 43-yarder just before halftime, then made a
24-yarder in the third quarter.