The Cowboys rallied, but lost to the Saints in a game reminiscent of Dallas' 1994 Thanksgiving miracle.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Drew Brees was a young Dallas Cowboys fan cheering on Jason Garrett during his amazing comeback victory on Thanksgiving 1994. With Garrett and the Cowboys on the verge of another holiday stunner, Brees and the New Orleans Saints snatched it away.
New Orleans went from leading by 17 to trailing midway through the fourth quarter. The Cowboys were about to seal the victory with a long pass play when safety Malcolm Jenkins swiped the ball back, and Brees drove the Saints 89 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:55 left.
Dallas’ David Buehler narrowly missed a 59-yard field goal with 25 seconds left that would’ve tied it, and the Saints held on for a 30-27 victory Thursday.
“It was kind of a gut-check win,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.
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Payton appeared to be trying to call a timeout as the ball was snapped for Buehler’s kick, which would have given the Cowboys another chance. But the officials didn’t give it to him, so the play stood.
The Saints (8-3), playing on the holiday for the first time, won their fourth straight. Dallas (3-8) lost for the first time in three games since Garrett became interim coach after Wade Phillips was fired.
Sixteen years ago, Garrett was a third-string quarterback making a rare start in place of Troy Aikman when the Cowboys fell behind Brett Favre and the Packers 17-3. Garrett rallied them a 42-31 victory that’s among the most stirring in team lore.
This one would have been up there, too. Instead, it may go down with Leon Lett’s snowy gaffe in 1993 as one that got away.
“This is a game that, if you let it, it will rip your heart out,” Dallas quarterback Jon Kitna said. “You feel like you played well enough to win — you just didn’t.”
The Cowboys trailed 17-0 after the first three Saints possessions. New Orleans also led 20-3 just before halftime.
Buehler made a career-best 53-yarder as the second quarter ended to start a run of points on four straight possessions, and Dallas led 27-23 with 5:51 left.
The Cowboys were on their way to stretching the lead or killing the clock when Roy Williams broke free with a catch and raced 47 yards toward the end zone. He switched the ball from one hand to another to avoid a defender, but didn’t see Jenkins and got the ball stripped at the 11-yard line.
“I lost the ballgame,” Williams said. “I need to fall down. We run the clock down and win the game. … That’s the nail in the coffin. We had the momentum going our way. We were there. … I get tackled, we get in the end zone and we win. I fall down and we win.”
Brees, who passed for 352 yards, then drove the Saints 89 yards in five plays, hitting Lance Moore on a 12-yard touchdown strike.
The Cowboys had one try left, and Kitna got them close enough to give Buehler’s powerful leg a try. The kick had the distance, but fluttered to the left.