The Dallas Cowboys (8-4) earned a 27-17 road victory over the New Orleans Saints (5-7) on Thursday night to cement their place at the top of the NFC East.
The win moves the Cowboys into a very strong position in the division with the Washington Football Team now needing to win their game this weekend to remain two games behind Dallas with five games left to play after the weekend’s games.
However, the Saints awful form, they have now lost their last five, has seen them drop from being genuine challengers to the Buccaneers in the NFC South, to being bottom of the division and looking likely to miss out on the playoffs.
Hill’s Passing Woes Play Key Role In Defeat
After Sean Payton decided to start this game with Taysom Hill at quarterback instead of
Trevor Siemian in an attempt to break the Saints losing streak, it always looked a bit of a gamble.
On the positive side, Hill contributed 101 yards on just 11 carries on the ground as he pretty much shouldered the weight of the Saints running game alongside his QB role.
However, it was through the air that Hill struggled, hitting just 19 out of 41 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns but crucially, four interceptions.
All four came after Hill hurt his hand earlier in the contest.
The Saints defense made sure that the Cowboys didn’t run away with the game, but the Saints turnovers killed any hope the team had of landing a streak-busting win and means that they now prop up the South.
That is harsh on Hill, who often carried the Saints offense on his shoulders and who showed incredible toughness on a number of runs, taking big hits from the Cowboys defense as he moved the Saints downfield with his feet.
Cowboys Solid But Not Spectacular
The Cowboys four interceptions on defense, one apiece for Jayron Kearse, Trevon Diggs, Carlos Watkins and Damontae Kazee, laid the foundation for the win, but they were much-needed in a game where the Dallas offense was solid rather than spectacular.
Dak Prescott threw for 238 yards (26/40) for a touchdown but also threw an interception. The Saints limited Ezekiel Elliott to just 45 yards, but were burned by Tony Pollard who rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown from just seven touches.
Amari Cooper returned to the team following a spell on the Covid-19 list but had a relatively quiet night for the Cowboys, catching two passes for 41 yards. CeeDee Lamb was Prescott’s favored option catching 7 passes for 89 yards.
The Cowboys converted just two of thirteen third downs, and also failed on their only fourth down play and they had to punt the ball away seven times as the Saints defense kept the home side in the game.
However, it was the four turnovers from the Saints that would prove so decisive in the game.
Micah Parsons Has Another Stellar Night
The Dallas Rookie Micah Parsons has been one of the bright spots for the Cowboys this season and he had another superb night in front of a prime time audience.
Not only has he had ten sacks on the year, he was a pain in the Saints backfield all night having six tackles, five pressures and two quarterback hits. He also played a key role covering Kenny Stills on Jayron Kearse’s interception.
.@Jayronkearse8 secured that! 💯
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 3, 2021
He looks a lock for the Defensive Rookie of the Year and it will be richly deserved when, not if, he lands that honor.
Next weekend the Cowboys face a key divisional game against the Washington Football Team, knowing a win in that game would make it very difficult for Washington to catch them at the top of the NFC East.
The Saints will be hoping to end their five-game losing streak against the Jets knowing that if they can get a win, the tightness of the race for the playoffs this year will mean that they will be right back in the mix.