Saints defense, special teams power them to win over Cowboys

Saints defense, special teams power them to win over Cowboys
The Saints defense celebrates after a forced fumble by A.J. Klein, and recovery by Vonn Bell. (Source: Mark LaGrange)

NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The Saints defense played a magnificent game and kicker Wil Lutz made four field goals to get the win over the Cowboys on a night when the Saints offense struggled in the red zone.

The Saints (3-1) came away with the 12-10 victory over the Cowboys (3-1). The Saints offense did not find the end zone but did enough in the other phases of the game to finish triumphant. The defense forced three turnovers.

Teddy Bridgewater was 23-of-30 for 193 yards and an interception. Michael Thomas had nine catches for 95 yards. Alvin Kamara gained 69 yards on 17 carries. Some of those runs moved the chains on critical third down plays.

Dak Prescott was 22-of-33 for 223 yards and an interception. The Saints defense locked down running back Ezekiel Elliott. He had just 35 yards on 18 carries. He did manage a 1-yard touchdown. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore shut down wide receiver Amari Cooper, allowing him five catches for 48 yards.

The Saints struggled with penalties again in this game. It is becoming a common theme this season. The team finished with nine penalties for 80 yards, with several of those for offensive holding.

The Cowboys had the first big play of the game. On a third and 13, Bridgewater scrambled and fired a pass to Ted Ginn Jr. Unfortunately, the ball bounced off his hands when he got hit and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie corralled it for the interception before going out of bounds to set Dallas up on its own 46-yard line. The Saints defense allowed the Cowboys to drive the ball to the 10-yard line but then clamped down to force a 28-yard field goal by Brett Maher to give Dallas the 3-0 lead with 5:08 left in the first quarter.

On their next possession, the Saints were able to get to the red zone before penalties and a sack killed the drive. A 40-yard field goal by Lutz on the first play of the second quarter tied it at 3-3. Then, after the defense forced a three-and-out, Deonte Harris returned the punt 23 yards to the New Orleans 49-yard line. The Saints put together a nice drive, but again, it was stopped by a sack. Lutz was true again, this time from 42 yards out to give the Saints the 6-3 lead with 8:42 left in the half.

On a third and four, Prescott connected with Jason Whitten for 10 yards, but linebacker A.J. Klein was able to jar the ball loose and safety Vonn Bell recovered it. The Saints again had good field position, starting at their own 47-yard line. The Saints, however, were not able to get much offensively and were forced to punt the ball back to the Cowboys.

After a fumble by Elliott and recovery by Bell again, the Saints drove down to the 1-yard line with :04 left before halftime. Bridgewater was off the mark on a pass attempt to Jared Cook but there was still :02 on the clock. Lutz connected on a 19-yard field goal to give New Orleans the 9-3 lead at halftime.

The St. Amant band performed at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Cowboys put together an 11-play drive that went 84 yards after used almost 6:00 on the clock that was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Elliott to give Dallas the 10-9 lead. The Saints again drove down to the red zone but couldn’t punch it in, so a 26-yard field goal by Lutz gave them the 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Saints were trying to run out the clock when, on a third and seven with 1:50 left in the game, Jaylon Smith dropped Bridgewater for a sack that resulted in a 16-yard loss at the 50-yard line. The Saints were forced to give the ball back to the Cowboys.

With :02 left in the game Prescott heaved the ball down the field for a “Hail Mary” attempt but Marcus Williams came down with the ball with no time left on the clock.

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