BTB Game Balls: Cowboys @ Saints

It's time to hand out game balls for the Cowboys' road victory against the formerly undefeated Saints! We've got one for a player from each unit: offense, defense, special teams, as well as one for the coaching staff.

Make the jump to see who gets a BTB game ball.

Offense

Tony Romo - The 49-yard TD pass to Miles Austin was one of those passes that makes you wonder how a QB can be so accurate. It was as if the ball knew how fast Austin was running. He didn't have to adjust to it. He just ran underneath it. It was a perfect pass. So was the 26-yard floater to Austin. So was the deep mid post to Crayton. So was the 17-yard sideline job to Ogletree. No defender could have caught any of those passes.

He's throwing them all well. Even the ones he's thrown right at defenders seem to just bounce away. Sure, that's luck or lack of hands on their part. But no INTs in four games still stands.

Romo has brought this team back several times this year, but the thing that has impressed me lately has been his ability to protect the lead. In the second quarter against the Saints, he was sacked three times - twice while the Cowboys were up 14-0, once while up 14-3. On the first sack, he did his Romo-esque dance to escape the defenders; then finally, he just plopped on the ground. On the second sack, he tried to step up in the pocket and ended up tucking the ball in like a RB to take the hit. On the third, he just went down.

No heroics were necessary. Just take the sack. He did, which looks to be a growing tendency of his. One fumble could have popped the Saints right back into the game. He hasn't had one since Green Bay even though this line has been giving up some major ground.

Way to go #9. Keep it up!

Honorable Mention: Miles Austin, Marion Barber

 

 

Defense

DeMarcus Ware - While Spencer had a much bigger stat line (6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFLs, and 3 QB hits), Ware saved the day. When the Cowboys needed him most, he came up big. His patented ball-swatting QB sacks stalled important drives for the Saints, and eliminated their chances of getting back into the game.

With less than a minute to go in the first half, Brees was aiming to swing some momentum back in his team's favor. Most of us still carry the apprehension of the '07 Giants playoff game when Eli zipped right down the field to put up points before the half. Ware would not let that happen in New Orleans. He blew past the LT and slammed Brees to the ground. Spencer recovered the fumble at the Saints' 24; and a drive that could have put up points for the home team, turned into a quick three for the Cowboys.

Despite playing with a sore neck, Ware kept the pressure coming. Time after time, we have seen the Dallas defense play a good game only to give up points on the opposition's final drive. Nerves were rampant on Saturday night because it was the New Orleans Saints...the undefeated Saints with that high-octane, top-ranked NFL offense. They could score from anywhere on the field even with 12 seconds left from the Dallas 43. They were driving, but the Cowboys needed a play and got one from Ware.

Again, he knocked the ball loose while bringing down Brees. Ratliff recovered it to ice the game. Wade was pumping his fist and Romo stopped holding his breath.

A great game for a great guy and a great player. Rock that Abe Lincoln-beard, DeMarcus!

Honorable Mention: Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins

 

 

Special Teams

Patrick Crayton - What's better than having the defense hold the Saints to two consecutive three-and-outs to open the game? Having the punt returner be on his game - that's what. From the get-go, Crayton looked fluid in his returns.

He only ran two - a small sample size. Had the defense not forced so many turnovers, who knows what Crayton and the return team could have done? The unit fit right in with the game plan: get on top of the Saints early. To do that, the offense would need good field position.

His first return began the first TD drive, though it was nothing big (7 yards). After the next three-and-out, his evasive moves gained 28 yards to give the offense the ball on their 40. That was off a 52-yard punt that he fielded at the 12. Had he been tackled around the 15, the Cowboys could have had a much tougher time scoring that second TD.

Maintain the momentum to help the team get on top early. Crayton did just that.

Honorable Mention: David Buehler, Orlando Scandrick

 

 

Coaching

Wade Phillips -The Saints offense was averaging something like 35 points per game going into Saturday night's contest. That's insane. Well, these Cowboys held them to less than half of that.

Could Coach Phillips' defense be clicking at the right time of the season? Having just held the vaunted Chargers to 20 points and the Saints to just 17, one could assume so. His guys are playing well for him. Four sacks on Brees between Ware and Spencer, alone. They forced three turnovers on New Orleans. That is a feat all in its own because forcing turnovers has seemed an unattainable goal for much of this year. And they are forcing them at opportune times, to boot.

I think we can all remember the game against the Saints a few years back when Sean Payton brought his team in to spank that of Bill Parcells'. It seemed like Payton outwitted the Tuna, using various weapons, featuring Mike Carney and an onside kick en route to a 42-17 blowout.

Well, Wade avenged that memory. With just enough pressure on the quarterback, aided by the return of Ken Hamlin in the secondary, it seemed as if Brees' best option was to check down to his TE. There were no bombs completed unless you count that one that Mike Jenkins caught. And the Saints running game? Reggie Bush led the way with one attempt for 29 yards, followed by Pierre Thomas' six carries for 20.

Honorable Mention: Jason Garrett, Joe DeCamillis

 

 

This is probably a game I will try to save on TiVo for the offseason when I'm dying to watch some Cowboys football. 'Twas a major win and it couldn't have come at a better time. Had this team lost three in a row, much would be in doubt. Now, Dallas remains controller of its own destiny - just the way we like it!

On the other end of Christmas Day, are the downtrodden Redskins. Let's remember this win and expect this team to come out the same way again at FedEx Field. One more win, plus a Giants loss, and they're in!

Who gets your game balls?

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