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Mike McCarthy on Missing Cowboys' Win vs. Saints: 'Don't Ever Want to Do This Again'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 3, 2021

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21: Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy before an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs on Nov 21, 2021 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he was "proud" of how the team handled adversity in Thursday night's 27-17 road win over the New Orleans Saints.

McCarthy, who watched the game from a hotel in Frisco, Texas, was one of six Cowboys coaches to miss the contest while going through the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.

"It was rough, I'm not going to lie," McCarthy told ESPN's Todd Archer. "I'm proud of the guys and how it all turned out, but I don't ever want to do this again."

It was far from the Cowboys' most efficient performance of the year. They converted just two of their 13 attempts on third down and were outgained (405-377) by a Saints squad decimated by offensive injuries, but Dallas' defense came up with some clutch plays in the second half, highlighted by a Carlos Watkins pick-six, to secure the victory.

The win improved the Cowboys' record to 8-4, giving them a 2.5-game lead in the NFC East and putting them fourth in the NFC playoff standings.

"Adversity win, ugly win, however you want to define it, you have to have these wins, especially when you get to later in the year when you're playing teams that are trying to get in the playoffs or make a run," McCarthy told Archer. "This is a great experience for us. Let's face it, this is today's NFL. You've got to be able to win with change."

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who served as the Atlanta Falcons' head coach from 2015 through 2020, stepped in as Dallas' acting head coach with McCarthy unable to attend the contest.

"I love doing hard things with a group of people, and this was one of those moments," Quinn told reporters. "We wanted to make sure Mike and all the guys that we missed, that we got their back. Honestly, that was the only thing I was nervous about. I didn't want to let them down."

It was fitting the defense he leads came up big in key moments with four turnovers while the team's star-studded offense was stuck in neutral for much of the game.

"I finally got to see his emotion and expressions down on the sidelines," rookie linebacker Micah Parsons said about Quinn, who typically works from the coaches' booth. "It was good to see a smile on his face, and it was good to see another win on the board."

The Cowboys have 10 days between games as they return to action Dec. 12 against the Washington Football Team, giving those who missed the Saints contest time to clear COVID protocols.

Meanwhile, the Saints will need a late-season hot streak to qualify for the playoffs after Thursday's loss dropped them to 5-7. They travel to face the New York Jets (3-8) in Week 14.

Even with a favorable schedule down the stretch, building a winning streak could prove difficult for a New Orleans side that's played the entire year without No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas and the past four games without top running back Alvin Kamara because of injuries.