As bad as the Cowboys played in the 49-17 loss to the Saints Sunday, nothing was worse than the final scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
The Saints took eight plays to go 78 yards and did not pass or attempt to pass one time. The Cowboys played run defense and could not stop them.
While it appeared the weary Cowboys quit and gave no effort, coach Jason Garrett said they simply tired and over exposed, considering the team’s litany of injuries had forced backups into action.
“Yeah, they’re a very strong offensive line and they came off the ball and they blocked us really well,” Garrett said. “We didn’t get off the blocks. We didn’t shed blocks. We didn’t maintain our gap control. We didn’t tackle very well really throughout the ball game, particularly in the second half. When they’re on the field for 40 minutes, and we’re on the field for 20, because we go 0-for-9 on third down and don’t sustain drives, over time, when they start running the football, it’s hard to stop them. Guys are working as hard they can work and trying to win and do all that stuff. But obviously they did a better job executing and we didn’t do a good enough job executing.”
That the Cowboys will get some of the injured guys back after this week’s bye is one reason Garrett remains optimistic about the final six games of the season.
He said it will get guys to play their proper roles and limiting the exposure of some backup players.
“Absolutely,” Garrett said. “We’ve got to get some of these players back and that’s an important piece of this whole thing that allows you to – you know, when you’re playing closer to full strength – it allows you to be your best and maybe you get some of these guys who have been playing a lot of snaps into a role that they’re more suited to whether it’s whether it’s to their ability or their experience with our team or if a guy plays 40 plays instead of playing 12 plays, right? Some guys are more pinch-hitter types. Some guys get exposed over the course of 500 at bats in a season. A lot of it has to do with these guys inexperience, inexperience being here and I think our coaches have done a great job getting our guys ready quickly and getting them to play. But when you have starting players back, that’s a good thing and these other guys assume a different role. And hopefully you’re better as a team because of the experience they’ve gotten in the other guys’ absence.”