Does the name Chris Ivory ring a bell for anyone? Me neither, but boy did he play a big role for the New Orleans Saints in this Thanksgiving barn burner down in Big D. This was another game that I was unable to watch, and I have my sister to thank for that. How does she not have Fox? Anyway, after the Cowboys surprised everyone, especially me, by upending the unbeaten Saints the previous season, I had hope that the same could be done on this day, although I wasn’t counting on it.
Despite a two game win streak coming in to this game, Dallas, at 3-7, was clearly the underdog against the 7-3 Saints. And this one started off badly. The aforementioned Chris Ivory, a rookie running back from Tiffin University, scored two first quarter touchdowns as the Saints built a 17-0 lead. Keep in mind, Ivory was undrafted and had scored his first career touchdown only four days prior to this game, but he really made a difference early on.
By halftime, Dallas had trimmed the lead to 14, as David Buehler hit two field goals to counter another Garrett Hartley field goal for New Orleans. As you can see in the highlight vid, things started to pick up for Dallas in the second half, and the game really got interesting. Miles Austin made a big play early in the third quarter, taking an end-around 60 yards to paydirt. He greatly benefited from some outstanding blocking on the outside and downfield. This made the score 20-13.
Another Hartley field goal preceded a Reggie Bush fumble on a punt return that gave the Cowboys the ball at the Saints’ 15 yard line. A few plays later, Marion Barber, yes that Marion Barber, seemingly back from the dead, scored on a fourth and goal from the one. The score was then 23-20 New Orleans.
The teams traded their next possessions, the Saint’s failing to convert on fourth down and the Cowboys punting. However, on New Orleans’ next drive, Drew Brees threw an interception after the ball hit his receiver’s hands, bounced into the air and was caught by Gerald Sensabaugh. Starting at the Saints’ 39, Dallas was in a good position to tie the game or maybe take the lead. They did the latter, as another unexpected contributer, Tashard Choice scored from a yard out on his only carry of the game. This also represented his first touchdown of the season.
Now leading 27-23, Dallas got the ball again, and a big 47 yard pass from Jon Kitna to Roy Williams looked to put the Cowboys in position to put the game away for good, as they reached the 11 yard line. However, Williams quickly undid his huge play by fumbling the ball. The Saints recovered, and shortly after hitting on a long pass of their own, finished the drive with a touchdown. Then, with the Saints ahead 30-27, Buehler lined up for a 59 yard field goal to tie the game with 30 seconds to go. It was thiiiiiiiiiiis close to being good, but it was wide left. It was one of those kicks that you get off the couch to try to push it back the other way from your living room. Final score, 30-27 New Orleans.
Turnovers obviously hurt the Cowboys in this game, but just as crucial was not being able to get a defensive stop when they absolutely had to have one. Really though, considering where both teams were coming in to this game, they played pretty well overall. A look at the box score shows that Dallas held the ball longer, had fewer penalty yards, had more total yards, and had more first downs. Sometimes it’s not necessarily what happens, but more importantly when they happen.
The Cowboys showed a lot of grit to come back from an early deficit, something they lacked just a few weeks prior. Not only that, but they even took the lead late in the game. Kitna was efficient for the most part, and the running game, while lacking any one standout, still managed 144 yards. This was clearly helped out greatly by Austin’s run. Jason Witten, Roy Williams, and Felix Jones each had at least five catches and 69 yards receiving, so it was nice to see the ball spread around to different guys. All in all, it was a loss, but it was a loss you could live with.
Record to this point: 3-8