Final

Saints 42

(9-4, 5-2 away)

Cowboys 17

(8-5, 4-2 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:15 PM ET, December 10, 2006

Texas Stadium, Irving, TX 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 21 21 042
DAL 7 0 10 017

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 384 YDS, 5 TD

Rushing: J. Jones (DAL) - 10 CAR, 116 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: T. Glenn (DAL) - 8 REC, 150 YDS

Brees helps Saints march all over Romo, Cowboys

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.

Arm As Hammer
Drew Brees

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:

Games Player Team Year
10 Rich Gannon Oak. 2002
9 Dan Marino Mia. 1984
9 Warren Moon Hou. 1990
9 Kurt Warner StL 1999
9 Kurt Warner StL 2001
8 Drew Brees N.O. 2006
8 Dan Fouts S.D. 1980
8 Kurt Warner StL 2000
8 Trent Green K.C. 2004

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."

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
The Saints won a very impressive game on the road by dominating the red-hot Cowboys to maintain their lead in the NFC South and positioned themselves for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Saints did an unbelievable job of keeping the Cowboys defense off balance with their play selection, while spreading the field using shifts and motions to create individual matchups to which the Cowboys had no answers. QB Drew Brees (above) was flawless with his command of the team, quick release and ability to make all throws in the passing game, while unknown players continue to step up and make plays for the Saints offense.

Defensively, the Saints never let the Cowboys offense or QB Tony Romo gain any momentum or get into rhythm. Once they established their lead, the Saints forced Dallas to become a one-dimensional team, attacking through the air.

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 embarrassment.

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 Sunday night.

"We let a lot of people know what we are all about," Brees said.

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 rushing.

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 unsportsmanlike conduct.

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 Henderson.

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.

Game notes


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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
DAL
1st Downs2816
Passing 1st downs
1611
Rushing 1st downs
113
1st downs from penalties
12
3rd down efficiency
9-151-8
4th down efficiency
1-21-2
Total Plays7551
Total Yards536347
Yards per play7.16.8
Total Drives1212
Passing377231
Comp-Att
26-3816-33
Yards per pass
9.76.6
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-72-18
Rushing159116
Rushing Attempts
3616
Yards per rush
4.47.3
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-40-2
Penalties7-546-43
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
02
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession37:1122:49

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees26/3838410.1501-7
DALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Romo16/332497.5122-18

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
McAllister211115.3035
Bush6376.2016
DALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones1011611.6177
Romo410.302

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Bush612520.8161
Henderson29246.0150
DALRECYDSAVGTDLG
Glenn815018.8050
Owens35618.7134

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNODAL
dalTD12:19Julius Jones, 77 yd run (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 79 yds, 0:49
07
SECOND QUARTERNODAL
noTD14:56Mike Karney, 2 yd run (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 88 yds, 6:44
77
noTD10:24Mike Karney, 3 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 39 yds, 4:04
147
noTD0:50Jamal Jones, 27 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 95 yds, 3:20
217
THIRD QUARTERNODAL
dalFG11:26Martin Gramatica 24 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yds, 3:34
2110
noTD10:12Reggie Bush, 61 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 74 yds, 1:27
2810
dalTD7:53Terrell Owens, 34 yd pass from Tony Romo (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 63 yds, 2:13
2817
noTD5:21Mike Karney, 6 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 63 yds, 2:30
3517
noTD3:57Devery Henderson, 42 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 59 yds, 1:29
4217