Graphic by Ethan Gullet

Wow. I was admittedly dead wrong about this game. I expected high powered offense from a revamped Cowboys squad and a dangerous, if not methodical, response from the Saints. Neither one of these things happened. Prescott and the offense looked flat and frankly brought back memories of last year’s group. The Saints were constantly stopped by Dallas’ defense and only scored 12 points. They failed to reach the end zone, but they didn’t need to.

The Final Score: 10-12.

No particular player stood out on Sunday night, but the defense has to be recognized for their performance. They were constantly on the field; New Orleans dominated the time of possession. They controlled the ball for 36 minutes, compared to Dallas’ 23. The defense did not tire out however and put constant pressure on Teddy Bridgewater while also making life difficult for Alvin Kamara. This game resembled the Saints-Cowboys game from last year, which ended in a 13-10 win. There is some good and bad in making that comparison. The defense performing at a high level is great. Robert Quinn showed up to play again, the linebackers continued to punish their opponents and the secondary played with their usual physicality. Just like in last year’s game though, the offense played poorly.

It seemed like the receivers could not get any separation. Attempted catches were always contested and there was not much yardage to be picked up even if the balls were caught. Marshon Lattimore erased Amari Cooper, taking away Prescott’s favorite target. Of the eight balls thrown his way, Cooper caught five for 48 yards, but a big chunk of that yardage was on a diving sideline catch late in the fourth quarter. Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott had key fumbles in the 4th quarter that cut off promising drives and allowed the Saints to kick the go ahead field goal. The air attack was not working well. The turnovers were game changers, and the running game was wholly ineffective. Elliott averaged 1.9 yards per carry. By that measure, he would have to run the ball six times to get one first down. That obviously is not ideal. The Saints deserve credit for stopping the offense, but Dallas made too many crucial mistakes. Prescott also seemed more hesitant than in previous games. He did not try to take shots down the field and often deferred to his check-downs. Not all of this is Prescott’s fault; if the receivers cannot get open and there is no one to throw to, then you should throw a check-down. However, doing that too often stalls out an offense very quickly.

This was a disappointing game for the Cowboys. Expectations were high for this team, and when the lights shined their brightest, they stumbled. This is by no means a huge cause for concern, the Saints are a good team, and the Superdome is a notoriously hard place to play in, but this doesn’t change the fact that the Cowboys failed their first test of the season. Luckily, they get another test this weekend when they come home to play Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers in Dallas has given the Cowboys nightmares in recent years. The Packers enter the Week 5 matchup with a solid defense and a 3-1 record. It should be noted that Rodgers has not quite been as dominant as he was in the past; he is only thrown for 1000 yards and six touchdowns through four weeks. That is roughly 250 yards and a touchdown or so per game, which is well below what we have grown accustomed to seeing from him. The turf toe injury to wide receiver Devante Adams is also significant. He’s Green Bay’s top target and will most likely play through the injury, but his effectiveness on Sunday will probably be limited. Despite this, their offense is still a force to be reckoned with, and will most likely put up more than 20 points. The Cowboy offense will have its hands full with a good Packer defense, but they likely will not have a repeat of last Sunday night’s performance. I do not see this team dropping two games in a row. They should finally be able to beat the Packers at home and get back on the right track.

Dallas. 24-21 in Week 5

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