Giving up 432 yards in an NFL game is considered bad, but being outgained by 432 yards in an NFL game is, well, atrocious.
The Dallas Cowboys managed to be atrocious and all its synonyms Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as they were torched by Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 49-17.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was fired by the Cowboys in the offseason, is in laughter after this one. Meanwhile, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones might want to file a complaint to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell accusing Ryan and the Saints of bullying. Here are five reasons why.
1. The Saints set an NFL record by gaining 40 first downs. The Cowboys, on the other hand, ended up with 43 total plays to go with just nine first downs. In other words, the Cowboys made the Saints look like the Baylor Bears out there.
2. Sunday night’s game marked the fourth time this season the Cowboys defense has allowed more than 500 yards, one game away from an NFL single-season record.
3. The Cowboys defense allowed running back Mark Ingram to rush for his first 100-yard performance in his pro career.
4. The Cowboys defense allowed 626 total yards, which set a franchise record, breaking the mark set two weeks ago against the Detroit Lions when it gave up 623.
5. The first pass attempt to Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t come until 33 minutes into the game, and the first and only catch by Bryant occurred a long 44 minutes into the game. The Saints shut Bryant and the passing game down, as quarterback Tony Romo only threw for 128 yards.
Don’t the Cowboys watch the “NFL GameDay Morning” show like I do when they wake up on Sunday? Marshall Faulk, a pro football hall of famer and current NFL Network analyst, said Sunday morning that the Saints would throw for 400 yards, rush for 150 yards and score 50 points against the Cowboys. Clearly, the Cowboys wanted to make Faulk look like a psychic, as they almost fulfilled his bold prediction.
It gets worse.
The Cowboys lost linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant to hamstring injuries during the game. The banged-up defense is already without defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, defensive end Anthony Spencer and defensive backs J.J. Wilcox and Morris Claiborne. Moreover, defensive end DeMarcus Ware is in and out of games.
To add insult to injury for the Cowboys, their former defensive coordinator has turned the Saints defense around, a unit that is the one of the most improved in the league.
Maybe Ryan wasn’t so bad after all.
In the meantime, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his defense are one of the least feared in the entire league, especially with all of the injuries it is suffering.
I was never one to question the hire of Kiffin because of how dominant his Tampa Bay defense was back in the early 2000s with Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and others. After this loss, though, it is starting to make me scratch my head.
Kiffin’s Cowboys defense this season has now allowed a record-breaking amount of yards twice in three games, and in 2012, his USC defense allowed a school record 730 yards to Oregon.
The Cowboys could be in trouble.
And now for the good news. Cowboys fans can save some heartache because they do not have to watch their team next week.
The Cowboys face a much-needed bye week, as they need the rest and, more importantly, to figure out how to be consistent. One week, the Cowboys could look great and click on all cylinders. The other week, the team may look like one of the worst in the league.
Despite all of the bad the Cowboys are dealing with to go along with a mediocre 5-5 record, they are still tied for first place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, this team looked defeated after crawling out of New Orleans on Sunday night.
We will just have to see if the Cowboys can get it together during their time off this week and bounce back in Week 12 when they head to the MetLife Stadium to face the division foe New York Giants.
The NFC East is wide open, from top to bottom. Even the Giants and Washington Redskins still have a shot at being crowned the division champion by the end of the regular season.
The Cowboys have six games remaining on the schedule, three of which are against division teams the Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The last two games of the season are on the road against the Redskins, ending with a finale at home against the Eagles.
It looks like this could come down to the last game of the season for the Cowboys, yet again. An 8-8 record seems likely to get a playoff spot to represent the division, but the Cowboys are no longer the only team that has a shot at achieving that record. Simply put, the Cowboys are going to struggle to try and make the playoffs for another year.