Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Saints prepare to face hot Cowboys team

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 9:36 PM

It was back to work for the New Orleans Saints as they prepare for Sunday’s game in Dallas against the Cowboys.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns in Sundays win against the Steelers.
  • Photo by Dallas Cowboys
  • Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win against the Steelers.

Dallas, New York and Washington all are (8-6) on the season and the Cowboys have won 5 of their last 6 games. I think you can make the argument that Dallas is playing, right now, as good as anybody in the National Football League,” Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said following practice on Wednesday.

It may surprise to know that the Cowboys are 4th in the NFL in passing (the Saints are 2nd) with an average of 294.8 yards per game. “ Offensively, I think this is the best Tony Romo has ever played, his accuracy, his command of the offense, getting the good plays,” Vitt detailed. “Bill Callahan is doing a great job with the offensive line. I think they have really cut down on their play selection of the run game, but they really execute. The wide receivers are making really big plays; if you don’t tackle them they are going the distance. I can’t say enough about this running back DeMarco Murray. He will have a one-yard gain, a two-yard gain, and all of a sudden he has a 60-yard gain.”

Dallas however is ranked 31st in the league at running the football averaging just 80.4 yards per game.

On the defensive side of things, Dallas is ranked 14th against the pass and 15th against the run. Not bad considering that this side of the ball has been eaten up at times by the injury bug. “You got to admire what they have done.
They have had some injuries and some things happen to them, but they are playing fast, physical. They made a big play last week to really win the game for them, so we have our work cut out for us.”

New Orleans (6-8) is coming off of a 41-0 win in which the pass and run were effective. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 307 yards to go with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. The performance was more like the play we have become accustomed to seeing rather than the interception laden quarterback recently.

“If you want to jump off that bandwagon do it at your own expense,” Vitt quipped when Brees’ rough patch was brought up. “What he has meant to this organization and what he has meant to our football team, hey listen, how many times have we seen these kinds of performances? He is a phenomenal player, he’s a great leader, he’s great in the locker room, and he’s a great person.”

Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt told reporters Wednesday that Dallas posses many challenges to his football team.
  • Photo by Michael C. Hebert
  • Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt told reporters Wednesday that Dallas posses many challenges to his football team.

The Saints rushed for 149 yards. Running back Mark Ingram led the back with 90 yards on 14 carries to go with one touchdown, easily his best outing of the season.

“I think we are finding out a lot about Mark and Mark is finding out a lot about himself,” It’s funny; I think he is one of those backs that he gets stronger as the game goes on. I think he gets a better feel for where the cut holes are. I think he has done a real good job of his ball security and is gaining confidence. I think it’s really a win-win.”

Dallas is coming off of a 27-24 overtime win at home against Pittsburgh in a game in which they trailed the Steelers 24-17 in the fourth quarter. So what’s the difference between the team that started the season losing 3 of 5 to the won that’s won three straight?

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re a mentally tough football team and saying that, I believe that when we step on the field in the fourth quarter and we’re behind 10 to 14 points, we’re going to find a way to win the ballgame and we’ve been down five or six times this year and consistently come back and (have) put ourselves in position,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said to New Orleans reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve had a couple other ones where we could have come back in eight or nine of them. That’s just our mentality that we’re a football team that believes late in ballgames and that’s helped us.”

Dallas is currently 8th in the NFC playoff picture and end the season at Washington in a game that could determine if they make the postseason. It’s the only think the Cowboys as a team can ask for at this point in the season.

“No question about it,” says Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. “You want to get to a point where you are not really looking around to what other people are doing and that if you just take care of your business, again, you can control your destiny. We are certainly at that point. We are focused on the task at hand and that’s the New Orleans Saints this week.”

INJURY FRONT

Two Saints did not practice on Wednesday as the team returned to the practice field. Fullback Jed Collins (toe, knee) and left tackle Zach Strief did not participate. Running back Chris Ivory (hamstring), cornerback Patrick Robinson (groin) were both limited.

Cornerback Corey White was placed on injured reserve.

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