WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
RADIO: WWL-AM, 870 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge
RECORDS: The Cowboys are 2-1, and the Saints are 1-2.
LAST WEEK: Dallas stormed back from a 21-0, second-quarter deficit at St. Louis (1-2) to win 34-31, getting good production from offensive playmakers DeMarco Murray (24 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown) and Dez Bryant (six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown) as well as a 25-yard interception return for a TD by linebacker Bruce Carter. Meanwhile, after taking a 13-0 lead on two touchdowns on their first pair of offensive drives, the Saints punted four straight times and conceded three field goals before putting the game away with a third TD to win 20-9 at home against Minnesota (1-2).
COACHES: Cowboys, Jason Garrett, 5th season (59-31); Saints, Sean Payton, 8th season (74-41)
Offense (league rank in parentheses)
Points: Saints, 78 (7th); Cowboys, 77 (8th)
Total yards: Saints, 1,265 (4th); Cowboys, 1,090 (12th)
Rushing: Saints, 421 (6th); Cowboys, 470 (3rd)
Passing: Saints, 844 (5th); Cowboys, 620 (24th)
Defense (league rank in parentheses)
Points: Saints, 72 (T-20th); Cowboys, 69 (18th)
Total yards: Saints, 1,139 (24th); Cowboys, 1,081 (21st)
Rushing: Saints, 304 (T-9th); Cowboys, 330 (T-15th)
Passing: Saints, 835 (29th); Cowboys, 751 (21st)
COWBOYS: QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray, WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten, LB Bruce Carter, LB Barry Church, S Morris Claiborne
SAINTS: QB Drew Brees, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Brandin Cooks, RB Khiry Robinson, LB Curtis Lofton, S Kenny Vaccaro
Offense: Murray leads the NFL in rushing with 385 ground yards on 75 carries, three of which have been touchdowns. However, he’s lost three fumbles already this season.
Meanwhile, rumors had persisted that the 34-year-old Romo’s trademark mobility had abandoned him after two recent back surgeries, but he displayed it in Sunday’s comeback win, most notably on a 16-yard run for a first down on a third-and-13. His 67.4 percent completion rate would be the second-highest of his career if the season ended today, but he’s thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions (four), and one of the picks was run back for a score Sunday.
Nonetheless, aside from limiting the big-play potential of Dez Bryant (20 grabs, 247 receiving yards, two TD catches this year) and Murray, stopping Romo is always a key to victory whenever the Saints face him. He is 1-3 against the Saints in his career and has been sacked seven times this year.
Defense: Their numbers on defense are slightly better than the Saints’ this year, but there’s one key area at which they’ve been better: creating turnovers. Through three games, they’ve created five: one interception each from Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Rolando McClain and Morris Claiborne; as well as a fumble recovery by Henry Melton.
Special teams: Their kickoff and punt returns are handled by Dwayne Harris. He’s been ordinary at both duties, averaging 26.4 return yards off five kickoffs and amassing 15 yards off three punt run-backs. ... Coverage-wise, opponents have averaged 17.3 return yards off seven kickoffs and picked up 14 yards on two punt run-backs. ... Kicker Dan Bailey is 7-for-7 on field goals, including 4-for-4 from 40-49 yards away and 1-for-1 from 50+ out.
-The Cowboys owe the Saints one after being clobbered 49-17 in primetime in New Orleans on a Sunday night in November last year. Dallas allowed the Saints to set an NFL record with 40 first downs and a franchise mark for total yards on offense (625). Befuddled Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones afterward said it was “embarrassing” to lose in the fashion his team did and added, “I just didn’t expect this. I never saw this coming.”
-Along the same lines, perhaps no one in New Orleans has forgotten what happened the last time the Saints visited Dallas (in Week 16 of 2012): Dez Bryant set a career high with 224 receiving yards off nine catches, two of which were 58-yard touchdown receptions. The Saints won 34-31 in overtime, and the man covering Bryant that afternoon — cornerback Patrick Robinson — was demoted from the first team after struggling in New Orleans’ pair of season-opening defeats this year. But many eyes will be on cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Corey White to see if they can avoid the same fate Robinson suffered the last time the Saints were in “Big D.”
-Thought we’d forgotten the road woes? No. The Saints have gone 1-7 the last eight times they’ve ventured away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the regular season. A win in Dallas wouldn’t signify a complete cure from their traveling ailments; but it would pull them to 2-2 in time to then prepare to host Tampa Bay (0-3) in Week 5 at the Superdome, where the Saints have now won their last 18 games with Sean Payton on the sidelines, including the playoffs.
Rookie TE Nic Jacobs (McNeese State) terminated his contract with the Saints practice squad on Tuesday to sign onto the 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars’ active roster. The Saints replaced Jacobs on their practice squad with TE Orson Charles.