NFL Football

27
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Dallas 7 6 7 7 27
New Orleans 0 7 3 7 17
17
5:20 PM PT6:20 PM MT7:20 PM CT8:20 PM ET1:20 GMT9:20 6:20 PM MST8:20 PM EST7:20 PM CT5:20 UAE (+1)20:20 ET23:20 , December 2, 2021
Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana  Attendance: 69,170

Cowboys, Saints collide trying to stem midseason slides

According to STATS
According to STATS

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

  1. The home team has won each of the last five games between the Saints and the Cowboys: New Orleans in 2013, 2015 and 2019, Dallas in 2014 and 2018. The Cowboys' only win in their last seven road games against the Saints was in 2009 (24-17 in Week 15).
  2. The Cowboys were penalized 14 times for a franchise-record 166 yards in their overtime loss to the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. It was the most penalty yards by one team in any NFL game since the Browns racked up 182 yards in penalties in their 2019 season opener.
  3. Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Cowboys' loss to the Raiders. Going into that game, Prescott had a 21-0 career record in games in which he threw at least two TD passes and no interceptions.
  4. The Saints' current four-game losing streak is their longest since 2015 (also four games). The Saints have not had a longer single-season losing run since 2005, when they had two such streaks (six games and five games).
  5. Trevor Siemian threw four touchdown passes in his only career game against the Cowboys, a 42-17 Broncos win in Denver in Week 2 of the 2017 season. That's one of two games in Siemian's NFL career in which he threw as many as four TD passes (also one in 2016).
  6. Micah Parsons led the NFL with 6.5 sacks in November. Since 1982, when sacks became an official NFL statistic, only two other Dallas players had at least 6.5 sacks in a calendar month: DeMarcus Ware in October 2011 (7.0) and DeMarcus Lawrence in September 2017 (6.5).
Team Comparison

Dallas
 
New Orleans
29.6 Points 23.4
303.2 Pass Yds 209.9
127.5 Rush Yds 111.2
19 Takeaways 16
(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans Saints have lost four straight for the first time since 2015 and the Dallas Cowboys have been just one victory better during their past four games.

Those coinciding slides set up a pivotal NFC clash in the Superdome on Thursday night when Dallas (7-4) visits New Orleans (5-6).

Complicating matters for the Cowboys will be the absence of at least six coaches - including head coach Mike McCarthy - and at least two players because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright and right tackle Terence Steele are the players out. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. He has missed the past two games.

McCarthy tested positive Monday and has been participating in virtual meetings.

"One thing about Zoom meetings, especially having gone through it last year, our process is much better in the virtual setting than it was last year," McCarthy said. "I am confident in the way the information is distributed and the ability of the coaches present" at practice and meetings.

"It's like anything; we are far enough into this that everyone understands what we need to get done," McCarthy continued. "I feel good about the prep. I think with all the change going around us, it is making our team focus tighter."

The Saints experienced a similar challenge in Week 2, heading to Carolina without eight assistant coaches. That game didn't go well for New Orleans; the 26-7 defeat was their second-most lopsided loss this season.

The worst loss, however, came in their previous game on Thanksgiving night - a 31-6 drubbing by the Buffalo Bills that had coach Sean Payton saying he'd need to look at everything his team is doing and who is doing it.

One significant change could come at quarterback. Trevor Siemian has lost all four of his starts since helping the Saints top Tampa Bay in a game that saw Jameis Winston go down with a season-ending knee injury.

But now Taysom Hill's recovery from a partial plantar fascia tear appears far enough along that he could either start or play significant snaps at quarterback.

Although Hill went 3-1 as a starter last season while Drew Brees was injured, he has yet to be the primary quarterback for the Saints this season, instead subbing in as a read-option threat or as a receiver. His foot injury occurred while making a catch at Tennessee, as did his concussion at Washington earlier this season.

So Hill's first opportunity to serve as QB No. 1 could come at a time when New Orleans is trying to emerge from a midseason swoon.

"There's nothing like playing quarterback in this league and so certainly that requires an additional amount of energy and responsibility," Hill said. "You have a greater ability to affect the outcome of a game."

LAWRENCE'S RETURN

Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is set to return for the first time since breaking a foot in practice the week after the opener. The club's highest-paid pass rusher is looking for his first sack, and to make up for lost time. He's almost guaranteed a third consecutive year without reaching 10 sacks after consecutive double-digit years earned him his $105 million contract.

"He's still our leader," said second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs, the NFL's interceptions leader with eight. "Came back, nothing changed, still our leader out there, still vocal, still making sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to out there."

ENCOURAGING SIGNS

During their losing streak, the Saints have been playing without a slew of injured regulars - with no absence more glaring than that of their top offensive player, versatile running back Alvin Kamara. He's missed three games, but returned to practice on a limited basis this week. Fellow running back Mark Ingram, who also missed last week's game, was back at practice, as was starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk for two practices before sitting out on Tuesday.

"It's good to have guys getting healthy turning the corner, because we need all hands on deck," Ingram said.

However, defensive end and sack leader Marcus Davenport (shoulder) has not practiced this week.

MOVING TARGET

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott's mobility could present a problem for the Saints, who've struggled in consecutive games to contain adept scramblers. Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts rushed for 69 yards against New Orleans and Buffalo's Josh Allen 43.

"Quarterbacks might not move a lot all season until they play us, you know, then they're running everywhere," Saints defensive end Carl Granderson said. "So, I guess that's going to be the thing for the rest of the year: Every time we play mobile quarterbacks, just to contain them."

ELLIOTT'S HEALTH

McCarthy hinted the Cowboys might rest Ezekiel Elliott with the star running back having increasing difficulty getting around on an injured right knee. But owner/general manager Jerry Jones said on his radio show he expected Elliott "to have a serious load against New Orleans."

Elliott has matched his career low in carries each of the past two weeks with nine. It's the first time in the two-time rushing champ's six-year career that he has had consecutive games with fewer than 10 carries. He's only missed one game in his career because of injury.

"No one's brought it up to me," Elliott said Sunday of the suggestion that he sit for a game. "If they bring it up to me, I've just got to go with what they believe is best for the team."

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AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed.

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Updated December 2, 2021

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