It took plenty of sweat and stomach acid, but the Cowboys finally got it done.
The previously undefeated Saints have been defeated.
After a 24-3 blowout melted into a 24-17 nail-trimmer, the Cowboys worked their way into position to put the game out of reach with a chip-shot field goal.
But like two weekends ago, when Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard attempt that would have put the Redskins up by 10 points with less than two minutes to play, Nick Folk prompted Cowboys fans everywhere to utter a very different four-letter word that starts with “F” and ends with “K” when he bounced a 24-yard try off the upright.
This time around, Saints got the ball back with 2:10 to play, 18 more seconds than when they started the drive that forced overtime in D.C. Tonight, however, too much of the clock evaporated as they worked the ball toward the middle of the field, with quarterback Drew Brees not having enough time to set up and throw the ball to his primary targets.
Fittingly, the drive ended with a sack from DeMarcus Ware, forcing a fumble that the Cowboys recovered with less than 10 seconds to play.
It was Ware’s second sack and forced fumble on the night; Anthony Spencer had two sacks as well.
Moving forward, the Cowboys finally have shaken the December monkey off their backs, and they now can focus on nailing down a playoff berth — perhaps getting another crack at the Saints.
But it won’t be easy. Dallas sits only 1.5 games in front of the Giants, who hold the tiebreaker thanks to the head-to-head sweep.
For the Saints, the facade of invincibility has been shattered. They’re now only one loss behind the Vikings in the race for the top seed in the NFC postseason; if the Vikings run the table, the Saints will need to do the same in order to nail down the No. 1 seed.