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Commentary: Stat-freakish Cowboys left a few moral victories short of the real thing

By Gil LeBreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Published: December 24, 2012

The Sean Payton-less Saints, it will be noted frequently today, came into the game with numbers of their own. The New Orleans defense was on a league-record pace for allowing yardage. Only two teams had allowed more touchdowns. No other team had surrendered as many first downs.

Yet, it was the Saints' defense that put quarterback Drew Brees into position to win the game. From the Cowboys' final possession of the second quarter through their first time with the ball in the fourth quarter, against the No. 32 defense in the league, Romo and Co. were able to muster only the aforementioned field goal — and that Dan Bailey boot had to come from 47 yards.

Then, after getting the ball first in overtime, Romo and Bryant failed to connect on a third-down pass at their own 36.

They never got the football back.

Is a comeback still a comeback when the dimpled prince fails to rescue the kingdom in the end?

In fairness to Romo, the Saints lately haven't been as bad as their stats indicate. It's as if new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defensive system has finally been deciphered.

Romo himself played well, but he needs Miles Austin to hold onto the football more often. And Murray can't be giving the ball away inside the 10-yard line.

“Give them a lot of credit,” Witten said of the Saints. “They made more plays than we did in the end.

”We had a lot of fight. We felt like we could have done stuff earlier in the game.“

If the Cowboys don't win in Washington, the ”could have done stuff earlier“ memories will haunt them — not only earlier on Sunday but also earlier in the season.

One fact remains — they are fresh out of mulligans.

For all the prodigious numbers that this Cowboys offense seems to amass, for all the Sundays that Romo brings smiles to the fantasy football legions, they need to find a way next week to close the deal.

It's what winning teams do in December when even 31 points aren't enough.

It's what this franchise has been missing for 17 years.

Who better for the Cowboys to measure themselves against than the Washington Redskins?

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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