The Dallas Cowboys lost to the New Orleans Saints 30-27 in a Thanksgiving hearbreaker, a game they came into riding high after two wins. After being down early, and staging an impressive comeback, victory fell away as the football was stripped from the arms of Roy Williams, and a 59-yard field goal attempt failed to tie the game in the final seconds.
These are the hardest games to lose: the ones where your team battles back and gives you hope, making you think they’re actually going to pull a win out of what seemed certain loss, but then fall short as the game winds down. I’m a long-time Dallas Cowboys fan, and they’ve done their share of losing this way over the years. It never gets easier.
But this defeat does not spell doom for the Cowboys, not when you consider that they played the Super Bowl Champion Saints, and that they kept the game competitive. That’s one of the signs of a good team-one that can be down in points, be outplayed, then make adjustments and get themselves back in it.
And that’s what the Dallas Cowboys did against the Saints. After playing an abysmal first quarter, and an almost equally abysmal second quarter where the Cowboys scored two field goals to the Saints’ 20 points, the ‘Boys came alive in the second half.
Cowboys’ first half highlights, if they could be called that, include a 79-yard drive, a 53-yard field goal by David Buehler, and two successful challenges by Jason Garrett. There were several plays to be encouraged by, but too many of them were offset by sloppy play.
There were plenty of highlights in the second half, which started with one of them: a 60-yard run for a touchdown by Miles Austin. The score was 20-13 in favor of the Saints, and a 7-point deficit wasn’t nearly as intimidating as17.
Another second half highlight included Jesse Holley causing a fumble which the Cowboys recovered and turned into a touchdown, closing the gap to only three points at the end of the third quarter. An interception, solid play, steady movement down the field, and a Tashard Choice touchdown brought the Cowboys their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter.
It looked like the Dallas Cowboys might actually win this one, until, of course, that horrible moment when the ball was stripped out of Roy Williams’ hand with just three minutes left. The Saints recovered and turned it into a touchdown, taking back the lead-but only by three.
With just two minutes left, the Saints were up 30-27, and the Cowboys were looking pretty good as they moved toward field goal range. I held my breath as they did it, wondering if the improbable win the Cowboys had over the Saints in 2009 would be repeated on Thanksgiving, my favorite Dallas Cowboys football game every season. But there just wasn’t enough. The ‘Boys couldn’t move close enough to the end zone, and a 59-yard field goal attempt was just too much for Buehler, whose kick was wide left.
Babe Laufenberg said on the Cowboys Postgame Show that “There are no moral victories.” I disagree with that. Considering how poorly the Dallas Cowboys played in the first two months of this season, making up a big deficit, and keeping the game competitive-especially against a team as good as the New Orleans Saints-is a victory in itself. The Cowboys from week 6, or 7, or 8 couldn’t have done it.
So the Saints beat the Cowboys 30-27. I’m still proud of the Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints broadcast, KDFW FOX4, November 25, 2010
Cowboys Postgame Show, KTVT CBS11, November 25, 2010