GHT

 

The Dallas Cowboys have finally gotten the attention from the rest of the National Football League that they might be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future after posting their fourth straight win by upsetting the surging New Orleans Saints 13-10 before a national TV audience Thursday night that was the highest-rated Thursday night NFL game ever.

The Saints were averaging nearly 40 points a game with quarterback Drew Bree’s throwing touchdown passes at a record pace while rolling up record-setting passing yardage in the process.

The Cowboys’ coaching staff devised a brilliant defensive game plan (which of course owner Jerry Jones will take credit for) that completely stymied Bree’s and his offensive compadres, shutting them completely out during the first half at Jones’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The impressive showing probably saved the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and sealed his retention for 2019, and with heavy-handed hints of an extension in the offing, well beyond that.

The Cowboys jumped out to a 13-0 lead before the intermission with the Saints roaring out of the locker room and sticking 10 third period points on the huge scoreboard.

And for the third straight game rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, whose nickname in “Wolf Hunter,” led the defense in shutting out the powerful New Orleans offense the rest of the way.

He had plenty of help from second-year back-up cornerback Jourdan Lewis, whose fourth-period interception of Bree’s put the Cowboys in position to finish the victory and halt the Saints impressive 10-game winning streak.

The Dallas defense has been quietly in the top echelon in the NFL, ranking second by giving up only 223 points in 12 games, second only to the Baltimore Ravens, who have surrendered 214.

“When you win a game like this, it changes you,” Jones told the Associated Press after the game Thursday night. The win guaranteed the Cowboys at least a share of the NFC East Division lead and an inside track to a home wild-card playoff game.

“This is a young, impressionable bunch,” Jones continued. “And they know now that they can go out there and play our game and play it in a way to beat an offensive machine. I’m just so proud of them.”

And a couple hundred miles down IH 45 there’s even more pride about the Houston Texans, who chalked up their ninth straight victory by outplaying the Cleveland Browns 29-13. It marked the longest winning streak in franchise history and the NFL’s longest active streak.

This victory also was initiated by the defense which intercepted three of rookie Baker Mayfield’s passes in the first half to tie a franchise record for interceptions in the first half of a game. Houston also had a fumble recovery inches from the goal line caused by rookie safety Justin Reid.