During the 2018 season, the New Orleans Saints participated in a defensive standoff against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The low scoring affair was competitive the entire night as two talented squads beat the daylights out of each other. Eventually, Dallas prevailed with running back Ezekiel Elliott finding the end zone and kicker Brett Maher adding two field goals.
New Orleans had an opportunity to win on their final drive, but quarterback Drew Brees was intercepted by Jourdan Lewis, who laid out for the game-clincher. The 13-10 loss would end the Saints 10-game win streak last season, but things have a funny way of coming around.
This season, fans were treated to a rematch of that clash as the Saints and Cowboys faced off in Week 4. However, this time the tilt was in the Superdome. Another defensive affair ensued, with the Saints returning the favor to Dallas, and even intercepting the final deep pass from Dak Prescott to end the game.
The Saints would not score a single touchdown but still win the game, undoubtedly due to the stellar and dominating performance of the defense. With Brees out recovering from surgery, the defense stepped up to lead the team, with the offense still finding its way.
“I love it,” said Vonn Bell when asked by Mike Triplett of ESPN, “Man, we said it, Put the challenge on us. We’ll take that challenge.”
It was the first time in 21 years the Saints have won without scoring a touchdown.
Saints defensive line silence Zeke
The defense had to limit chunk plays to slow down a Cowboys offense that had scored at least 30 points in each of their first three games. The Cowboys fed Elliott 18 times, but the New Orleans front seven was able to contain him, limiting his longest rush to just six yards.
According to PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), during Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins, Elliott received a grade of 13.49. He ran 19 times for 125 yards and continually moved the chains, gaining those chunk yards to help move the Cowboys offense down the field. This week, facing the gruesome Saints run defense, Elliott received an OSM grade of just 5.24, the second-lowest grade in Week 4. However, it makes sense as he was the beneficiary of 18 carries but produced only 35 yards.
Zeke would find the end zone in this contest, but a one-yard touchdown run is almost inevitable for a man with his size and power. The front line for the Saints limited Dallas’ rushing attack and forced Dak to challenge the talented defensive backs in the Big Easy.
Guess who’s back, back again, Marshon’s back
The first few weeks of the season were a bit rough for the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore. In Week 1 of the season versus the Houston Texans, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had 111 receiving yards along with two touchdowns. During the first three games, the Saints have allowed at least one receiver to have more than 100 receiving yards in each game.
Additionally, this was to be a tough week to attempt to bounce back. The Saints stopping the run the way they did meant the Cowboys had to pass more and wide receiver Amari Cooper is a talented weapon for this offense. In Week 3 against the Dolphins, Cooper posted 88 receiving yards along with two trips into the endzone. In that contest, he would also attain an OSM grade of 44.0.
During the tilt with the Saints, Cooper was shadowed and followed by Lattimore all game, who deflected two passes and held Cooper to only 48 yards on five receptions. Furthermore, Lattimore was able to drop Cooper’s OSM by just under 20 points, with Cooper receiving a Week 4 grade of just 27.0.
The Saints defense was able to contain two productive and impressive offensive weapons and have a significant influence on their respective OSM grades. The performance was stellar and gave the Saints a chance to win this game. The offense was able to muster up enough yards to kick four field goals, and the defense also helped them out with three takeaways. It was not the prettiest, but the Saints survived another week without Brees to get to 3-1.