Dallas stops Saints' march

Associated Press
New Orleans defensive end Bobby McCray grimaces as he looks at the scoreboard during the first half. Dallas snapped the Saints' winning streak.

NEW ORLEANS --- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are marching toward perfection no more.


Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware helped Dallas end its December doldrums and the Cowboys held off a frenzied rally by the Saints for a 24-17 victory Saturday night.

The loss by the Saints (13-1) left the Indianapolis Colts (14-0) as the NFL's only unbeaten team this season.

The high-scoring Saints trailed 24-3 going into the fourth quarter, then scored two quick touchdowns.

After Dallas kicker Nick Folk watched his 24-yard field goal try clang off the right upright shortly before the 2-minute warning, Brees got a final chance to tie it.

Brees moved the Saints into Dallas territory. But on second down, Ware sacked Brees and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Cowboys with 6 seconds left.

Romo passed for 312 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown to Miles Austin, who went over the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards this season.

Ware returned from a neck injury that left his status in doubt and was part of a relentless Dallas pass rush that pressured Brees all night.

Marion Barber had two short touchdown runs for the Cowboys (9-5), who ended a two-game skid and proved they were good enough to beat the top team in the NFC in front of a charged-up, hostile crowd.

The Cowboys' troubles in December (3-7 under coach Wade Phillips) had been well documented, but this win provided a dramatic boost to their playoff chances.

Romo connected with Austin, and Marion Barber later scored from 3 yards as the Cowboys took a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Folk added a 44-yard field goal three seconds before halftime.

Ware, who did not practice all week after suffering a neck sprain that sent him to the hospital six days earlier against the San Diego Chargers, forced a Brees fumble on a sack late in the first half, leading to Folk's field goal.

The Cowboys led 17-3 at the half.

The Saints got on the board when Brees led a 12-play 75-yard drive, completing a 35-yard pass to Marques Colston to the Cowboys 17. The Saints stalled from there, setting up Garrett Hartley's 34-yard field goal.

The Saints lost running back Reggie Bush to an apparent right leg injury in the second quarter. Bush caught a pass in the middle of the field, pulled up, hobbled to the sideline and headed straight to the bench. He did not return in the third quarter.

Brees set a record for career TD passes for a Saints quarterback with 121.



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