Saints lose for first time, beaten by Dallas 24-17

Sunday, December 20, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are marching toward perfection no more.

Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware helped Dallas end its December doldrums and the Cowboys held off a frenzied rally by the Saints for a 24-17 victory Saturday night.

The loss by the Saints (13-1) left the Indianapolis Colts (14-0) as the NFL's only unbeaten team this season.

The high-scoring Saints trailed 24-3 going into the fourth quarter, then scored two quick touchdowns. After Dallas kicker Nick Folk watched his 24-yard field goal try clang off the right upright shortly before the 2-minute warning, Brees got a final chance to tie it.

Brees moved the Saints into Dallas territory. But on second down, Ware sacked Brees and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Cowboys with 6 seconds left.

Romo passed for 312 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown to Miles Austin. Ware returned from a neck injury that left his status in doubt and was part of a relentless Dallas pass rush that pressured Brees all night.

Marion Barbour had two short touchdown runs for the Cowboys (9-5), who ended a two-game skid and proved they were good enough to beat the top team in the NFC in front of a charged-up, hostile crowd.

The Cowboys' troubles in December had been well documented, but this win provided a dramatic boost to their playoff chances.

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