Brees, Saints rally to beat Cowboys in thriller

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.

Brees and the Saints 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 89 yards for a go-ahead touchdown 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.

Payton appeared to be trying to call timeout as the ball was snapped for Buehler's kick, which would've given the Cowboys another chance. But the officials didn't give it to him, so the play stood.

"Fortunately, I did not," Payton said.

The Saints, playing on the holiday for the first time, won their fourth straight and fifth in six games to improve to 8-3. Dallas (3-8) lost for the first time in three games since Garrett became interim coach.

"I think we demonstrated again what we've done the last few weeks — battle and fight," Garrett said. "There were a lot of things to be proud of. Guys played with a lot of passion, energy and enthusiasm. ... But you've got to get the bottom line right. We didn't get it done."

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've 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 times the Saints had the ball. New Orleans also were up 20-3 just before halftime.

Garrett constantly preaches to his club that they're going to face adversity, so he wants them to be ready to handle it. The same group that fell apart under his predecessor, Wade Phillips, showed lots of spunk with their response to this challenge.

Buehler made a career-best 53-yarder as the second quarter ended to start a run of points on four straight possession. After a punt ended the streak, Dallas bounced back on the next series, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Tashard Choice to go ahead 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, following a block by Miles Austin. He switched the ball from one hand to another to avoid a defender he saw. But he didn't see Jenkins and got the ball plucked from him at the 11.

Patriots 45, Lions 24

At Detroit, Tom Brady was perfect on the field and his exit was first class.

Brady threw a season-high four touchdown passes, all in the second half, and the New England Patriots routed the Detroit Lions on Thursday after trailing by 11 late in the second quarter.

"We showed some resiliency, coming out in the second half and playing the way we did when the crowd was into it," Brady said.

Following Brady's brief news conference, the former Michigan star jogged out of Ford Field — limping slightly up a steep ramp — hugged Robert Kraft and got into an idling limo with the team owner behind a police escort.

New England (9-2) remained tied with the the AFC East rival New York Jets — who beat Cincinnati 26-10 on Thursday night — for the NFL's best record, setting up a showdown at home Dec. 6.

"I don't think we're at where we need to be at," Brady said. "But this is a tough group."

No one in the red, white and blue is tougher than Brady.

After taking a ton of shots early in the game, the three-time Super Bowl winner and two-time MVP bounced back to complete 21 of 27 passes for 341 yards with no interceptions, giving him a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 for the second time in his career.

"He's like a surgeon," Detroit center Dominic Raiola said.

Brady threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Deion Branch early in the fourth quarter after connecting with him on a 79-yarder to tie it at 24. Wes Welker's second TD reception sealed the victory with 6:42 left, putting the Patriots ahead by two TDs and making their double-digit deficit a distant memory.

"When you outscore a team 35-7 in the second half, a lot of things have to go right," New England coach Bill Belichick said.

The Lions (2-9) are used to things going wrong, especially on Thanksgiving.

Detroit has lost a franchise-record seven straight games — by an average of nearly 23 points — in its annual showcase.

Jets 26, Bengals 10

At East Rutherford, N.J., Brad Smith was too much for the Bengals with one shoe or two.

Smith, the Jets' Mr. Everything, scored on an 89-yard kickoff return during which he lost his left shoe and also had a 53-yard touchdown run in New York's victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night.

Hours after New England beat Detroit to improve to 9-2, New York matched the Patriots and the Jets are off to the second-best start in team history — eclipsed only by the 1986 squad that won 10 of its first 11. And the Jets did it by overcoming a sluggish first half and sending the struggling Bengals (2-9) to their eighth straight loss.

The Jets and Patriots meet for the AFC East lead in their next game, a meaty Monday night matchup Dec. 6 at New England.

New York has beaten Cincinnati three times in less than a year, including the regular-season finale that got the Jets into the playoffs, then in the wild-card game the following week.

Santonio Holmes scored his fourth touchdown in three games on a 13-yard reception from Mark Sanchez after Cincinnati's Andre Caldwell had a punt deflect off him while he was blocking. Sanchez was 16 for 28 for 166 yards with the TD and an interception.

Smith had three carries for 55 yards, a catch for 23 yards and the long kickoff return.

It looked as though New York was headed for yet another frenzied finish after consecutive road overtime victories were followed by getting the winning touchdown Sunday with 10 seconds left against Houston.

But it took New York only two plays to go ahead after halftime. Sanchez hit Holmes for 16 yards, then utilityman Smith used superb blocks by Dustin Keller and D'Brickashaw Ferguson to speed down the left sideline untouched for a 53-yard TD run.

Share This Story