Saints vs. Cowboys: Extraordinary Is Par for Course with New Orleans in 2012

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterDecember 23, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 23:  Tight end Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints recovers a fumble against strong safety Eric Frampton #27 of the Dallas Cowboys and inside linebacker Dan Connor #52 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The New Orleans Saints went on the kick the game winning field goal against the Dallas Cowboys in overtime.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Overtime. The New Orleans Saints were driving.

Marques Colston ran a short slant route, caught a Drew Brees pass, was quickly hit at the 24-yard line and fumbled the football forward. The ball was propelled all the way to the 2-yard line, where Jimmy Graham out-muscled the competition for possession.

Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal on the next play to secure a 34-31 Saints win.

Extraordinary. Bizarre.

But what else would you expect from the Saints in Week 16 when this season has been nothing short of extraordinary?

Not only did the Saints have to win, but they needed help from so many other teams to have any hope at a playoff berth. However, when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Houston Texans 23-6, New Orleans was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Drew Brees and the Saints weren’t going to give up on the game at hand, though. Even though the Saints defense tried its best to hand the game to Dallas.

With 11:10 to play in the game, the Saints held a 31-17 lead. They kept that lead until a Tony Romo-to-Dwayne Harris touchdown pass made it a one-touchdown game with 3:35 to play.

The Saints didn’t score on their next drive, and Romo once again drove the Cowboys down the field in an attempt to tie the game. With 15 seconds left to play, Romo hit Miles Austin in the end zone.

Tie game. Extraordinary.

What else could go wrong with the Saints’ season?

Dallas got the ball first in overtime and ran four plays before it had to punt. Then Brees went to work.

Brees hit Graham for 26 yards on the right side. Then Pierre Thomas ran the football for seven yards. The Saints were methodically driving down the field to win the game until the fumble.

What else could go wrong?

Colston caught the pass, the ball popped loose and launched forward. But that actually helped the Saints as much as any fumble could help.

Graham is a baller. Plus, he’s lightning fast for a man of his size. He got to the football at the 2-yard line first and didn't let anyone take it. After all the problems the Saints faced Sunday, maybe even all season, Graham was fighting for that one win. And he got it.

The Saints won Sunday, but they also lost in a sense. There will be no playoffs for this team in 2012. But there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to in 2013.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.