Even with a hot 3-0 start, the Dallas Cowboys still had a lot to prove against the New Orleans Saints when they visited the Superdome on Sunday. The Cowboys were undefeated, but there was doubt that they had earned it. The Cowboys’ first three wins came against three of the worst teams in the NFL: the 2-2, Eli Manning-led Giants; the 0-4 Redskins; and the 0-4 Dolphins.
The Saints have several concerns for the 2019 season. Drew Brees sustained an injury in the Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams that left him with a torn ligament in this throwing thumb. Brees is expected to miss the next four weeks, with backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater behind center for the Saints.
Alternatively, Dak Prescott has had a great season for the Cowboys as he continues to prove that he is worth a hefty extension to his contract. Prescott has formed a solid relationship with Amari Cooper, his number one receiver, which gives the Cowboys offense a boost.
The Cowboys looked to strike early in the game but failed to generate any momentum, putting up only 26 yards in their first offensive series. The Saints had an even tougher time on their first offensive series as they put up 18 yards before a Bridgewater pass tipped off receiver Ted Ginn Jr.’s hands and was intercepted by Chidobe Awuzie for the Cowboys’ first interception of the season.
The only points of the first quarter came from a Dallas field goal. The Saints started off the second quarter with a field goal and then drilled two more before the first half came to an end.
Coming into the game, Prescott had a 100% completion percentage in the third quarter of all games. This stat stood true in this game, as Prescott completed 6 of 6 passes to lead the Cowboys into the end-zone for the first time.
With 7:47 left in the third quarter, the Cowboys had the lead with a score of 10-9.
The Saints offense crafted together a 15-play, 9:06 drive downfield where they rushed 11 times. Bridgewater could not punch it in the end-zone which led to another Saints field goal, giving them the lead at 12-10 with 13:41 left in the game.
Nevertheless, the Saints defense had to make a few stands.
One of the key players on this Saints defense is cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore’s challenge for the day was to lock down one of Dallas’s most potent weapons, which was exactly what he did. Cooper’s offensive production was almost non-existent, totaling 48 yards on five receptions. Cooper was only targeted eight times all game. After hauling in four touchdowns in three games, he was left with a zero in the touchdowns column against the Saints.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that the Saints are going to be okay. Even if Bridgewater and the offense are not firing on all cylinders, the team offers enough options to keep the offense versatile. During the game, the Saints had nine penalties that harmed a lot of their offensive production as well.
Of course, the best offense is a great defense, and that is what the Saint proved they had. The Saints defense came away with three turnovers, limiting Pro-Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliot to only 35 yards and locking down Cooper.
With high-level defensive plays and versatile offense, the Saints will be fine with Bridgewater in the driver’s seat until Brees is fully recovered.