The New Orleans Saints bounced back from last week's loss to the Jets in emphatic fashion Sunday night, outplaying the Dallas Cowboys in every facet of the game en route to the 49-17 victory at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 throws for 392 yards and four touchdowns against an overmatched Cowboys defense that was without Sean Lee for most of the game, as the Cowboys' top tackler left with hamstring issues early in the second quarter. The Saints now move to 7-2 to stay a game ahead of the Carolina Panthers (6-3).
With the loss, Jason Garrett's team is now 5-5 and tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East.
Marques Colston (seven catches, 107 yards, one touchdown) and Darren Sproles (seven catches, 76 yards, one touchdown) were the biggest beneficiaries of Brees' big night, but the veteran quarterback made sure to spread the wealth. Moving the ball with east all night, he completed passes to nine different receivers.
It was hardly a one-dimensional attack, though, as Mark Ingram racked up 145 rushing yards and a TD on 14 carries and the Saints finished with 242 on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan dialed up plenty of pressure for his former team, as Tony Romo was under duress in the pocket for much of the night and finished with just 128 passing yards on 10-of-24 passing.
In the end, the final score might have been the least lopsided set of numbers on the night.
The Saints tallied a franchise-record 625 total yards; the Cowboys tallied 193. The Saints set an NFL record with 40 first downs and converted nine of 12 third downs; the Cowboys had nine first downs and zero third-down conversions. The Saints held the ball for over 39 minutes and ran 80 plays; the Cowboys held it for just over 20 and ran 43 plays.
DeMarco Murray, who was one of the lone bright spots for the Cowboys, capped off an early 72-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the 'Boys ahead, 10-7. But, from there, it was all New Orleans.
The Saints scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the second quarter to carry a 28-10 lead into halftime and continued to pound the Cowboys in the second half, scoring two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to complete the huge victory.
It was one of the biggest shellackings from one division leader on another that you'll ever see in Week 10 of the season.
Tony Romo, Cowboys: C-
Give credit to the Saints defense, because Romo's inability to find a groove led to an offense that simply couldn't stay on the field.
And that, of course, forced a banged-up Cowboys defense to stay on the field and continue to get embarrassed.
You can't blame Romo for all of Dallas' troubles, but he completed just 41.2 percent of his passes and only made one or two good throws during the mediocre performance.
Drew Brees, Saints: A
Talk about surgical.
Brees completed 19 passes in a row at one point in the first half and had as many touchdowns (three) as Romo had completions when the teams went into the half. He didn't need to do much in the final two quarters with the big lead, but he still finished with a massive final stat line and a 139.0 passer rating.
The veteran QB was deadly accurate all game long, and the Cowboys had absolutely no answer for him.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys: B+
On the Cowboys' first touchdown drive, Murray ripped off a 35-yard run, tallied 67 of the drive's 72 yards, and looked like he was in line for a huge day.
But the Cowboys quickly fell further behind and Murray's impact dwindled. Still, despite receiving just 16 carries, he managed 89 yards (5.6 YPC), a touchdown and ran with purpose for most of the night.
The Entire Saints Offense: A+
We've already talked about Brees as the leader of the offense, but it would probably be a disservice to the rest of the unit to single out anyone else.
It was just too comprehensive of an effort.
The offensive line crushed the Cowboys at the point of attack, creating huge running lanes. The ball- carriers ran hard, breaking off countless big plays. The receivers ran crisp routes, found open spaces and racked up tons of YAC. Everyone contributed, and it turned into an assault on the record books.
I think it's safe to say we're all excited about seeing this offense soon face off against the Panthers defense.
The Saints stay home for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, while the Cowboys get a bye week to lick their wounds before traveling to New York to take on the Giants.