SAINTS-COWBOYS OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the Saints loss to the Cowboys

Sean Payton had a rough night. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Another Thursday night game for the Saints, no big deal right? WRONG! They lost 13-10 to the Cowboys who are now 7-5 and in control of the lowly NFC East. Here’s how I saw it:

The Good

-The defense came up with pressure and sacked Dak Prescott seven times. Just about every time they blitzed, they came up with a sack or a pressure. On those plays, the coverage was good enough to allow the blitz to get there.

-Sheldon Rankins is having a breakout season. He has seven sacks on the year and is looking more like the guy this team thought he could be. His signature play this game came when he chased down Ezekial Elliot on a draw play for a loss. At 305lbs, that was extremely impressive.

-Cam Jordan is widely recognized as the defense’s best player. But Demario Davis gives him a run for his money. Davis is an all around linebacker that makes plays in every phase of the game.

The Bad

-As good as a coach as Sean Payton has been, he’s had moments in which you question his judgment. Using the two challenges in the first half and not going for the field goal on fourth down on the two yard line were two of the most egregious errors.

-The team had just their 25th punt because of their 15th three and out on the opening drive. Three straight incompletions by Brees, the last one was almost intercepted. He started the game 0 for 4. Too much passing and not enough running to start the game.

-Is it just me, or does Troy Aikman perform verbal sex on the Cowboys every time he broadcasts one of their games? Joe Buck gets in on the act as well. He clearly pulls for them and it gets annoying after a while.

The Ugly

- Eli Apple has been terrible. There’s a reason the former first round pick was traded. He was beat for a 40-yard completion early on that could have gone for a touchdown had he not shoe-string tackled Michael Gallup. He also got called for a couple penalties.

-The 71 game streak of not being shut out in the first half is over. They only gained 59 total yards in the first half. The team looked sloppy and unmotivated. It was as if they kept waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen.

-Sean Payton ultimately cost his team this game with poor play calling and bad challenges too early. His gambling is genius when it works, and crippling when it doesn’t. Piss poor tackling and bad execution aside, Payton was the reason his team lost.

There were a ton of questionable calls made for and against both teams. While the Cowboys played it safe in their gameplan, the Saints chose to gamble a bit too much in theirs. This could possibly cost them homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs if the Rams stay with a one in the loss column. The Saints have some work to do. It starts with praying starting left tackle Terron Armstead is healthy, and head coach Sean Payton decides to stop gambling so much.

 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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