Cowboys overcome huge Randy Gregory penalties in defensive gem, snap Saints' 10-game streak
A pair of huge penalties on Randy Gregory couldn’t stop the Dallas Cowboys from putting on the defensive show of the NFL season in Thursday’s 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Dallas kept the high-octane New Orleans Saints offense out of the end zone through most of three quarters on Thursday, and looked poised to head into the fourth quarter with a 13-3 lead intact.
Gregory’s roughing call gives Saints new life
With 2:33 left in the quarter, the Cowboys picked up a defensive stop near midfield, forcing the fourth Thomas Morstead punt of the night. Or so it seemed.
Morstead boomed a punt deep in Dallas territory before taking a hard hit from a Cowboys defender. It was Gregory. The embattled Cowboys linebacker rushed from the edge and couldn’t stop his momentum before barreling through Morstead’s legs, knocking him to the ground after the ball was out.
Roughing the kicker. Fifteen yards and a Saints first down first down.
Brees makes Cowboys pay
Three plays later, and Drew Brees made the Cowboys pay. The Saints quarterback hit Keith Kirkwood on a 30-yard strike in the end zone to close the gap to 13-10.
What looked like a chance for the Cowboys to control the game in the fourth quarter instead turned into a nail-biter in Dallas.
Another Gregory miscue
And Gregory had one more huge penalty in his bag. With the Saints driving near midfield early in the fourth quarter, Demarcus Lawrence sacked Brees and forced a fumble that Tyrone Crawford recovered at the Saints 35. Cowboys ball.
Except it wasn’t. Another flag was down. Gregory was penalized for lining up in the neutral zone. The Saints maintained control only to punt five plays later.
Dallas defense too good
But the Dallas defense didn’t budge after the lapse. The Cowboys thwarted the Saints’ last gasp to tie or win the game when Jourdan Lewis intercepted Brees with 2:08 remaining, allowing the Cowboys to run out the clock and secure a stunning 13-10 win.
Dallas held Brees to 127 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception on a performance that looked like nothing else he’s produced in what’s otherwise looked like an MVP season. The juggernaut Saints offense produced just 176 yards and 10 points in their first game with fewer than 21 points this season.
For the Cowboys, it was a statement win to improve to 7-5 and maintain control of the NFC East. For the Saints, it’s a stunning late-season dud that raises significant questions with the playoffs on the horizon.