Thursday's NFL: Cowboys end Saints’ 10-game winning streak

Associated Press
Cole Beasley of the Dallas Cowboys stretches for a first down against P.J. Williams of the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter.

Arlington, Texas — Dak Prescott desperately scrambled for a first down in a game of fourth-quarter keepaway, then took three knees starting from the New Orleans 1 to run out the clock by the narrowest possible margin.

Anything to keep Drew Brees and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense on the sideline.

Ezekiel Elliott scored the only Dallas touchdown on a 16-yard screen pass and the Cowboys stifled Brees and the Saints, ending New Orleans’ 10-game winning streak with a 13-10 victory Thursday night.

The Cowboys (7-5) won their fourth consecutive game and assured they will at least remain tied for the NFC East lead.

The Saints (10-2) were shut out in the first half, had their fewest points in four years and finished with a season-low 176 yards. They missed a chance to perfectly match Dallas from two years ago, when then-rookie sensations Elliott and Prescott won 11 straight after dropping the opener.

“Everybody knew it. We had to keep the ball away from Brees,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “We needed to play this kind of game. I must tell you, the defense played beyond my expectations. They played like a championship defense.”

Brees had his fewest yards passing in a first half since joining the Saints in 2006 with 39, and couldn’t get a potential winning drive going in the final minutes.

Instead, Jourdan Lewis’ interception – just the third for Brees while he became the NFL’s first with at least 30 TD passes in 10 seasons – gave the Cowboys a chance to run out the clock from the New Orleans 1 after an interference penalty in the end zone.

Brees said he was trying to throw the ball away behind pass-catching back Alvin Kamara, who cut outside just as Brees threw it and Lewis dove forward, barely keeping the ball off the ground.

“As an offense, we think complementary football,” Brees said. “Let’s put together a drive. Let’s keep our defense off the field. Let’s control the game, control the clock, control the ball. Just never felt like we really did that as an offense like we’ve done this year.”

The Cowboys spent the fourth quarter trying to protect their three-point lead, with Prescott breaking several tackles on an 11-yard scramble on third-and-10 and Cole Beasley catching a third-down pass and diving for 5 yards on third-and-5.

But Prescott fumbled on his season-high seventh sack with Dallas in position for at least a field goal, giving Brees another chance from his 15 with more than two minutes remaining.

After Brees’ interception, Marshon Lattimore was called for interference against Amari Cooper in the end zone, giving Dallas a first down at the 1 with 1:58 remaining.

The Cowboys had just enough time to end the game, with the play clock matching the game clock down to zero after Prescott took a knee for the third time.

Brees was 18 of 28 for 127 yards, actually the second straight game and third overall under 200 yards for the MVP contender. The running game didn’t do much either, with Kamara getting 36 yards rushing while the Saints had 65 as a team after averaging 177 the previous four games.

The only touchdown drive for the Saints was aided by three first downs on Dallas penalties. The biggest was Randy Gregory’s roughing-the-punt penalty on Thomas Morstead.

Two plays later, Brees dropped a deep throw to a backpedaling Keith Kirkwood in the end zone for a 30-yard score to get New Orleans within 13-10.

Prescott had 194 of his 248 yards passing while helping the Cowboys to a 13-0 halftime lead – the first scoreless first half for the Saints since 2014, also against the Cowboys, and their first deficit in five games.

Elliott had 136 scrimmage yards with 76 rushing and 60 receiving on six catches.

Buffalo, N.Y. — The wife of Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly says her husband has undergone what is hoped to be his last cancer-related surgery.

On Instagram Wednesday, Jill Kelly posted a picture of the former football player giving a thumbs-up sign from a hospital bed in New York City.

Her comment said “all went as planned!”

In an earlier post, Jill Kelly said doctors told the couple it should be the 58-year-old’s last surgery.

Kelly last underwent surgery in March when doctors at Mount Sinai Health System removed cancer from is upper jaw and lymph nodes and reconstructed his upper jaw.

A portion of Kelly’s jaw was removed in 2013 after Kelly was first diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma.

Titans coordinator talks

Tennessee defensive coordinator Dean Pees says nothing can be done until the end of the season about the undisclosed medical issue that sent him from the coaches’ box during a game to an Indianapolis hospital.

“I tell the players to suck it up, I got to suck it up,” Pees said.

Pees spoke Thursday for the first time since missing most of the Titans’ 38-10 loss to the Colts on Nov. 18.

Medical personnel transported him to an area hospital, where the 69-year-old Pees spent the night before returning to Nashville.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel sent Pees home from practice on Nov. 23 to rest, and Pees said he also missed another practice last week.

Sherman feels bitterness

For all the accolades, victories and the Super Bowl title he won during his seven seasons in Seattle, Richard Sherman still feels some bitterness about his time with the Seahawks.

Sherman believes the team should have won more than one championship, was broken up way too soon and that he shouldn’t have been released last March following a season-ending Achilles injury in 2017.

“You expect after you’ve done so much for a franchise, they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt,” Sherman said Thursday as he prepares to return to Seattle for the first time this weekend as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

“It’s kind of more a respect thing than anything. But they did, so you have to roll with the business.”

Flacco back at practice

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has returned to the practice field for the first time since injuring his right hip on Nov. 4.

Having finally received medical clearance to play, Flacco threw passes and worked on handoffs with fellow quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III during an indoor practice Thursday morning.

Fisher on injury list

The Bengals put offensive tackle Jake Fisher (Traverse City) on injured reserve with a back injury Thursday.

Fisher filled in for injured left tackle Cordy Glenn during a 35-20 loss to the Browns on Sunday and got hurt, leaving the Bengals (5-6) with no depth on the line.