Defense lifts Dallas to a 27-17 victory over sinking Saints
New Orleans — CeeDee Lamb had 122 yards from scrimmage, Tony Pollard had a 58-yard touchdown run and the Dallas defense produced timely sacks and turnovers in the Cowboys' 27-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
The Cowboys intercepted Saints quarterback Taysom Hill three times in the final 6:32 of the game, including defensive tackle Carlos Watkins' pick-6 on a screen pass that made it 27-10 with 2:52 left.
The Saints gave the dual threat Hill his first start this season in hopes that he could help New Orleans end a four-game skid. He was effective in spurts, passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns — and running for 101 yards — but he threw four interceptions.
Dak Prescott passed for 238 yards and a 1-yard touchdown to Michael Gallup as Dallas (8-4) won without coach Mike McCarthy and five assistants because of positive COVID-19 tests. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the Cowboys' acting head coach.
Prescott was intercepted by Marshon Lattimore in the middle of the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys canceled that turnover out when Jourdan Lewis hit Hill’s arm as he released the ball and Damontae Kazee intercepted.
That was the first of Dallas' three late interceptions. The Saints' next drive stalled on a pick by Trevon Diggs, his league-leading ninth. And Watkins' interception came on the drive after that.
Deonte Harris turned a short pass into a late 70-yard TD for New Orleans (5-7), but the Saints could not recover an onside kick and the Cowboys ran out the clock.
The game was close into the third quarter, when Pollard gave Dallas a 20-10 advantage by slipping an arm tackle in the backfield and speeding away from everyone else.
The Saints were trying to close within one score early in the fourth quarter. Rookie outside linebacker Micah Parsons squelched the life out of that drive when he sacked Hill for an 11-yard loss back to the New Orleans 40-yard line on fourth down.
The 10th sack of the season for Parsons, drafted 12th overall out of Penn State, forced a punt.
The Saints have started slowly throughout their skid and this game was no exception as they failed to score in the first quarter for the fifth game in a row.
The Saints' first scoring threat came on their second drive, but Brett Maher's 56-yard field goal attempt drifted wide right.
Dallas broke through on its third possession, highlighted by Prescott's 41-yard pass over the middle to Cooper and a lateral pass to Lamb that went for 33 yards to the New Orleans 1. Prescott then tossed a fade to the right corner, where Gallup made a leaping, twisting catch over cornerback Bradley Roby and narrowly touched both feet in bounds.
The Saints tied it on Lil'Jordan Humphrey's 24-yard TD catch early in the second quarter, but never led.
After Greg Zuerlein's 55-yard field goal put Dallas up 10-7, the Saints threatened late in the second half when they drove to the Dallas 26. But Hill's pass toward the left sideline was tipped by receiver Kenny Stills and intercepted at the 5 by Jayron Kearse, who dived to snag the fluttering ball while dragging his toes on the turf before falling out of bounds.
Dallas did not report any injuries during the game.
Saints: Hours before the game, the Saints placed defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon on injured reserve after he'd missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. ... Juwan Johnson hurt his neck after making a leaping 27-yard catch near the end of the first quarter.
Cowboys: Visit Washington on Dec. 12.
Saints: Visit the New York Jets on Dec. 12.