It's a party in the Superdome by now, with the New Orleans Saints wrapping up a blowout.
Cowboys - 17
Saints - 49
|Positional Unit||Halftime Grades||Postgame Grades|
Pass Offense: Drew Brees was incredible coming off a tough loss to the New York Jets. He finished with an 83 percent completion rate and four touchdowns. Credit the offensive line for giving him plenty of time to throw (and for keeping Brees sack-free on every snap but one). Marques Colston returned to post 107 yards and a touchdown, while Kenny Stills hauled in another big play (a 52-yarder).
Run Offense: A Mark Ingram sighting is a beautiful thing for Saints fans. Ingram finished with 145 yards and a touchdown for a phenomenal 10.4 yards per carry. Pierre Thomas was also excellent, with a 5.1 yards per carry. The Saints racked up three rushing touchdowns and 242 rushing yards in their best rushing performance of the season.
Pass Defense: The pass defense for the Saints was simply phenomenal, allowing just a 42 percent completion rate and 128 passing yards for Tony Romo. His sole touchdown came after the game was well out of reach. Dez Bryant was one well-covered 44-yard bomb away from getting shut out.
Run Defense: DeMarco Murray totaled just nine rushing yards in the second half after finishing the first half with 80. Major improvement, though a lot of the credit can go to the Saints offense for putting the game out of reach early.
Special Teams: Garrett Hartley missed a field goal, and Darren Sproles botched a punt in what was the weakest unit beside an unstoppable offense and excellent defense.
Coaching: Not much bad you can say about the coach of a team that just set the record for first downs in a game with 40. New Orleans was ruthlessly efficient, racking up 625 total yards, converting nine of 12 third downs and polishing off four of five red-zone tries. The defense allowed just 193 total yards and zero of nine conversions on third down. This was a phenomenal all-around game from the Saints.
Pass Offense: Drew Brees was phenomenal in the first half, completing 26 of his 30 passes for three touchdowns. The offense wasn't marked by big plays so much as quick screens, crossing patterns and short to mid-routes to establish separation and allow playmakers the space they needed. Marques Colston and Darren Sproles combined for 13 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Brees was sacked just once, as New Orleans did a phenomenal job of giving him time to run through his progressions.
Run Offense: This was one of New Orleans' best halves this season when it comes to rushing the ball, as they totaled 77 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Pierre Thomas led the team with 49 rushing yards on eight carries, and Sproles hammered in a touchdown.
Pass Defense: Not many people (myself included) could have seen this coming. Tony Romo has just 20 total passing yards on 3-of-9 passing in the first half. That's a credit to phenomenal coverage by the Saints' DBs, though the Cowboys didn't opt to throw the ball much given their success with DeMarco Murray on the ground.
Run Defense: DeMarco Murray carved up the Saints on the drive that led to Dallas' only touchdown. He finished with 80 first-half yards, most of which came on that drive. Still, the dominant play by the Saints has busted the game open wide enough that Murray shouldn't factor in much in the second half.
Special Teams: Sproles lost a punt to set up Dallas' first field goal,and Dallas' Dwayne Harris has 26.5 yards per return on his two kickoff returns. Otherwise, there hasn't been much movement on special teams, though Garrett Hartley has hit all four of his extra points.
Coaching: This has been one of the Saints' most complete first-half performances, with rushing defense being their main weakness. They have avoided penalties, (mostly) kept themselves turnover-free and marched the ball up and down the field with impunity. Payton has his team firing on all cylinders going into the second half.