Charles Grant and Mike McKenzie had the New Orleans Saints' defense playing nothing like the worst in the league.
The Saints forced five turnovers and allowed just three points
over the final three quarters in a 27-13 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.
Coming into the game, New Orleans had allowed 416.0 yards and
29.0 points per contest. But against the Cowboys, the Saints
gave up just 253 yards, and held a team under 20 points for the
first time this season.
"We came out today and had nothing to lose," Grant said. "No one
thought we would win another game this year. Our defense had an
outstanding day. Now, we need to use this as a self-motivator.
We've had our backs to the wall, so that's nothing new."
A defensive end, Grant forced one of the Cowboys' four fumbles -
three were recovered by the Saints - while disrupting the
offense with penetration. McKenzie, a cornerback, had an
interception that led to the first of two touchdowns by Deuce McAllister six minutes into the second quarter.
McAllister, who ran for 83 yards on 30 carries, gave New Orleans
its first lead when he capped an 11-play, 73-yard drive with a
four-yard TD run to snap a 13-13 tie with 5:13 remaining. On
the drive, Aaron Brooks had completions of 25 and 14 yards to
Stallworth had five receptions for 113 yards.
Just under two minutes later, Joe Horn sealed the victory with a
spectacular grab and run for a 31-yard TD.
Brooks threw for 252 yards with a touchdown and two
interceptions for the Saints (5-8), who stopped a three-game
"I really think we played with great emotion and great passion
today," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "We have been going
through some tough times, but the coaches and players have
really worked hard over the last few weeks. As a whole, the
defense was outstanding, the best I have seen in a long time."
Rookie Julius Jones rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown for the
Cowboys (5-8), whose playoff hopes took a major hit. He had
rushed for 348 yards and five TDs in the last three games.
Jones, who was coming off a 198-yard rushing performance Monday
at Seattle, scored on one-yard plunge late in the first quarter,
giving Dallas a 10-0 lead.
"Our guys took a lot of pride in the way we played today and
practiced this week," said McKenzie, who was acquired earlier
this season from Green Bay. "One of our goals on defense was to
make sure (Dallas') running game didn't get an early kick-start.
We went with a lot of man-to-man coverage and wanted to force
them to throw the ball.
"We needed a win in the worst way. It was just time for us to
Penalties continued to haunt Dallas, especially on special
teams. Dallas was assessed five flags on both punt returns and
"I told the players before the game that I was nervous," Cowboys
coach Bill Parcells said. "I got a sense from them that we
weren't sharp. It was a short week (after the Monday night
game), so it's hard. You try to give them energy, (but) we
weren't ready to go in my mind."
Dallas' Vinny Testaverde went 14-of-30 for 160 yards and an
"(The Saints) have some good pass rushers and it seemed like
they were getting back there," Testaverde said. "I just tried
to not to force mistakes and be smart with the football, but
we had trouble getting separation."
A Painful Setback
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