Cowboys vs. Saints 2013 final score: Dallas defense decimated in loss, 49-17

Ronald Martinez

Drew Brees was almost perfect against a battered Cowboys defense, as the Saints set an NFL record for most first downs in a game.

Sunday night's game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints was close in the first quarter, but that was it. Linebacker Sean Lee was injured, the Cowboys' defense crumbled and the Saints walked away with an easy 49-17 win. New Orleans also set an all-time NFL record by racking up 40 first downs, breaking a mark set in 1988.

Lee injured his hamstring in the first half and was unable to return. Without his ability to cover the middle of the field, Drew Brees repeatedly targeted tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston, both of whom ran seam routes to the center of the field where Lee would have covered.

Bad went to worse for Dallas as DeMarcus Ware was injured late in the first half, but elected to play through the pain. The Cowboys' top pass rusher still had flashes, but he was noticeably hobbled by a leg injury and lacked his initial burst. This allowed Brees to operate out of a clean pocket, making it impossible to stop the passing attack.

Defensive struggles turned the game into a shootout, an arms race Tony Romo wasn't capable of winning. New Orleans had too many weapons, while the Saints defense bracketed Dez Bryant with safety help and kept him to one catch for 44 yards. DeMarco Murray was having success running the ball in the first half, but as the score got out of hand the offense was forced to throw to win, playing into Rob Ryan's defensive hand.

Dallas now holds onto the top spot in the NFC East by a slim margin, edging out Philadelphia with a head-to-head win. Meanwhile the Saints were able to fend off the surging Carolina Panthers, still holding a one-game lead in the NFC South.

Injury report

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and was unable to return. DeMarcus Ware was also hurt, but played through his injury. There is no update on either's status at this time.

Benjamin Watson and Kenny Vaccaro both sustained concussions and neither Saints player returned.

Fantasy studs and duds

Drew Brees was fantastic with 392 yards and four touchdowns.

Tony Romo was... not fantastic, as the normally reliable fantasy quarterback was a disappointment.

Did they cover?

The New Orleans Saints were 6.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark. Their large win means they easily covered.

What's next?

The Dallas Cowboys are on a bye week.

11/17: New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers

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