Three and out: Cowboys 38, Saints 17 _lowres

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks past after greeting Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo (9) and Orlando Scandrick (32) at midfield following their NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

1. What we learned

The Saints are a three-alarm dumpster fire. Labeled a legitimate Super Bowl contender before the season, New Orleans stumbled to another loss and a 1-3 start in a 38-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that may have been the Saints’ most humbling yet. In a new low, the Saints trailed 24-0 at halftime, exhibiting recurring problems on defense (Dallas had 445 total yards) and offense (New Orleans turned it over three times to zero times for the Cowboys). The Saints needed help from Dallas to win in terms of turnovers and the exact opposite happened.

2. Trending now

Everything, except Thomas Morstead’s punting, seems to be questionable for the Saints right now. Teams are taking away most of the deep routes (Drew Brees did connect with Kenny Stills on a 46-yarder), and opposing receivers are running free in open space much too often to allow the Saints defense to get off the field. Tony Romo was 22 of 29 for 262 yards and three touchdowns but looked even more effective than that. Even Shayne Graham was wide right early on a relatively easy 41-yard field goal attempt. The Saints lost in all three phases.

3. Final thoughts

The NFL schedule makers did the Saints no favors by having them play three of their first four games on the road, but this isn’t college football. You don’t get to play most of your games at home. Eventually, you have to win some road games to get in the playoffs, and even more so than last year, it seems the Saints have trouble executing away from home. The only thing the Saints can do now is try to get to 2-3 with a home win over Tampa Bay. But getting over this loss, this start, may be impossible.