The Dallas Cowboys continue their effort to make the 2012 NFL playoffs as they host the struggling and inconsistent New Orleans Saints. This games features two of the NFL’s best QB’s in Tony Romo and Drew Brees. The Cowboys need to win this game to have a chance at winning the NFC East; the Saints are all but eliminated from playoff contention. Here is a recap of each possession in the first half:
Possession 1, New Orleans Saints:
The Saints started from their own 20. On their first play, Saints QB Drew Brees was flushed from the pocket by DE Jason Hatcher and he thre the ball away. After a short run on 2nd down,m the Saints faced 3rd and 7. With 3 WR’s, Brees hit Marques Colston for 15 yards and a first down at their 38. Brees then hit RB Darren Sprole in the flat, he made the first tackler miss, and then scrambled for another first down. A five yard rush on 1st down took the Saints into Cowboy territory. On 2nd down,OLB Anthony Spencer dropped the call carrier after a gain of 2. On 3rd and 3, from the shotgun, Brees his Pierre Thomas, Mike Jenkins did not wrap him up, and then Thomas ran for a first down. On the next play, Brees hit Colston for another first down at the Cowboys 18. On first down, Brees was unable to find an open receiver and he threw the ball away. On second down, Brees avoided the pass-rush of Spencer, but Spencer was called for a face-mask penalty which set the Saints up with a first down at the Dallas 9 yard-line. On 1sr down, RB Ingram took the handover through the middle of the line for a touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys 0 – New Orleans Saints 7
Possession 2, Dallas Cowboys:
Dwayne Harris took the kickoff out to the 24 yard-line. QB Tony Romo hit RB DeMarco Murray on a quick pass in the flat, Murray put a nice hit on the tackler and gained five yards. The Cowboys went back to Murray on the ground, and he rushed for a first down. Romo then hit WR Dez Bryant on the outside for another first down at the 50. After a decent play-action fake, Romo could not find anyone open on 1st down and essentially threw the ball away. On 2nd down, Romo threw a quick screen to WR Miles Austin for 7 yards. On 3rd and 3, Romo went to the shotgun, but he was under immediate pressure from the middle and he was sacked.
Moorman’s punt pinned the Saints inside their own 10 yard-line.
Possession 3, New Orleans Saints:
The Saints went to the running game on first down, but Thomas was dropped for a gain of less than a yard.On 2nd down, Brees hit WR Lance Moore on a quick slant and he was able to run for the first down. Henderson dropped the ball on the next play, despite having a lot of room to run in front of him. Sterling Moore dropped RB Darren Sproles for a shot gain on the next play. A false start penalty then left the Saints with a 3rd and 14. On a short screen pass, Sproles eluded several tacklers and gained just enough yards for a first down. Colston was wide open on 1st down for about a 10 yard gain, but he dropped the ball. A quick toss to Colston on 2nd down gained 9 yards. The Saints ran the ball for a short gain to go 4 for 4 on 3rd downs. Mark Ingram gained 2 yards on 1st down, and then the Saints got flagged for another false start which made it 2nd and 13. Brees, with decent protection, eventually hit TE Graham for another first down at the Dallas 48. Sproles took the4 1sr down carry for 5 yards through the middle. On 2nd down, after standing in the pocket for ages, Brees hit the RB in the flat who was wide open; he ran for 18 yards. On first down, the Saints picked up 9 on a carry, but their rushing attempt on 2nd down was stopped for no gain. The Saints then had a 3rd and 1 at the Cowboys 17.
END of 1st Quarter.
On 3rd down, the Saints tried to run with Ingram, but the Cowboys were able to stop him from getting a first down. The Saints then attempted a FG, but it was no good.
Possession 4, Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys took over at the own 26. Jeremy Parnell entered the game in place of RT Doug Free. DeMarco Murray took the 1st down carry for 5 yards. On 2nd down, Romo threw a ball to Dez Bryant who made a great play on the ball to come up with the reception. On the next play, Romo used play-action, then went deep to Bryant who went up and got the ball, then carried it in for any easy TD.
Dallas Cowboys 7 – New Orleans Saints 7
Possession 5, New Orleans Saints:
The Saints returner bobbled the kick and then got tackled inside the 15 yard-line. After a run for a gain on 1st down, the Saints tried a short toss in the flat, but the receiver was tackled quickly. On 3rd and 5, Brees was under pressure, but he fired a bullet to WR Lance Moore on a quick out for a first down. Ingram then rushed over the right side for 7, but the Saints were called for holding, so it resulted in a 1st and 19. A draw play to RB Sproles gave the Saints a medium gain, but another holding penalty left the Saints with 1st and 27 inside their own 10. On 1st down, Tyrone Crawford got some pressure on Brees and he threw the ball away. On 2nd down, the Saints tried to run the ball, but DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne converged to drop the ball carrier for a loss of 2. On 3rd down, the Saints threw a screen to Sproles who picked up 17, but the Saints were still forced to punt.
Possession 6, Dallas Cowboys:
Dwayne Harris returned the punt to the Dallas 25. On 1st down, DeMarco Murray made a brilliant effort to gain 9 yards, but FB Lawrence Vickers was flagged for holding. On 1st and 20, Romo pitched the ball to Murray and he picked up about 5. On 2nd down, Romo threw a quick slant to Dez Bryant, the pass was a bit high, but Bryant made a great play to go up and snatch it out of the air. On 3rd and 9, Romo hit Witten (his 97th catch this year) for 11 yards and a first down. After a 4 yard carry by Murray, Romo hit Bryant on a short slant, and then Bryant ran through the Saints secondary, straight-arming one of them to the ground, for his 2nd TD of over 50 yards on the day.
Dallas Cowboys 14 – New Orleans Saints 7
Possession 7, New Orleans Saints:
After a penalty on the kickoff, the Saints started this drive at their own 10. Brees has lots of time on 1st down, and he eventually hit Colston on a crossing route for 21 yards. A quick toss to Sproles gained 10 yards on the next play for another first down. A short pass to Ingram, who made DeMarcus Ware miss, gained 6 yards. Yet another quick slant to Colston gave the Saints another first down inside Cowboy territory. A screen then gained 7 yards, and on 2nd down Brees found Colston for another first down at the Cowboys 32 yardline.
2 MINUTE WARNING
Prior to this drive, the Cowboys lost 2 ILB’s (Alex Albright and Ernie Sims)for at least part of the game to injury. On first down, Ingram was able to bounce the carry outside for a gain of 8 yards. After having all day to find a receiver, Brees could still not complete a pass. On 3rd and 2, Brees tried a quick toss to TE Jimmy Graham, but LB Poppinga made an excellent play to break up the pass. The Saints decided to go for it on 4th and 1: Brees hit Colston inside the Cowboys 10 for a new set of downs. After review, the play was called incomplete, but an offside penalty still gave the Saints a first down at the Dallas 18. On first down, Brees hit Thomas out of the backfield and he rumbled all the way to the Cowboys 2 yardline. On the first down rush, the Cowboys got penetration and dropped the ball carrier in the backfield for a loss of 4 yards. On the next play, Brees hit Lance Moore for a TD (he was being covered by Charlie Peprah).
Dallas Cowboys 14 – New Orleans Saints 14
Possession 8, Dallas Cowboys:
With 1:11 left in the half and no timeouts, the Cowboys started this drive on their 20. The first play was a quick 7 yard toss to Witten who went out of bounds immediately. On 2nd down, Romo could not find anyone open and he threw the ball away. On 3rd and 4, Romo threw a quick slant to Bryant that was uncatchable.
Possession 7, New Orleans Saints:
After the punt, Brees hit Sproles on a short route, but Sproles took the ball for a 44 yard gain. That set the Saints up with a first down at the Dallas 26 yardline. On first down, Brees hit Sproles over the middle, but he was quickly tackled after a gain of about 2. On 2nd down, Brees went back to Sproles out of the backfield again for another short gain. On 3rd and 3, Brees through to the endzone, but the pass was broken up by the Cowboys secondary. Saints then kicked a FG.
Dallas Cowboys 14 – New Orleans Saints 17
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was posted minutes after the conclusion of the 1st half, so it is unedited. Please overlook the typos. Thank you.