ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Cowboys started November with their worst loss of the season, when they resembled the not-ready-for-primetime players in a Monday night football meltdown to the Tennessee Titans.
Dallas finished November with a star-studded performance in front of a national primetime audience, stifling the New Orleans Saints’ top-ranked offense in a 13-10 victory. It’s the Cowboys’ fourth-straight win, improving their record to 7-5 and strengthening their grip on first place in the NFC East.
In the process, the win stoked the postseason expectations of their fan base — and their owner.
“This team will not be the same again,” said a triumphant Jerry Jones outside the Cowboys locker room minutes after Dallas snapped the Saints’ 10-game winning streak. “You win something like this against a team that well coached… this is a changer here. They are different cats now as you go forward.”
Even the coolest cats on the Cowboys roster know that if this team is going to clinch a playoff spot and make a deep run into the playoffs, they have to play even better than they did against the Saints. And it starts with the quarterback.
“Anytime you go out there, and beat a team that’s won 10 games straight, it’s somewhat of a statement,” said Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys quarterback completed 24-of-28 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown. Prescott even completed his first 18 passes of the game. But, staying true to form, he remained poised at the podium when addressing the media following the game.
“It’s not anything we can hang our hats on… Zeke spoke about it tonight in the locker room. It was a great win but we got a lot more to do and a lot more to get better at. That’s just the mindset, and the mentality, of this team,” he said.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott told the NFL Network that he wants much more than a four-game winning streak. Elliott made that clear in his message to his teammates in the locker room following the victory. “I told the team, I said, we went out here and got this win, and it definitely was a big win. It’s not good enough. We had our foot on their throat, and we didn’t finish them. I told them that we’ve got to be way better if we want to take this team deep in the playoffs and have a chance to raise that Super Bowl trophy.”
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Jerry Jones said in the days leading up to the game that the Cowboys would have to make Super Bowl-type plays to beat the Saints.
That’s just what the Cowboys defense did, holding the NFL’s all-time passing leader Drew Brees to 137 yards passing.
The youthful and ferocious linebacking duo of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch proved to be too fast and too strong for the Saints.
Vander Esch’s effort against New Orleans improved his tackle total to 127 for the season, the second-highest tackle total by a rookie in team history.
Smith was all over the field and made a key tackle to keep the Saints from scoring during an impressive goal-line stand by the Dallas defense in the first half.
The Cowboys will enjoy an extended victory weekend before returning to work on Tuesday to prepare for their December 9 home game against the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles.