New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Drew Brees decimated the Dallas defense on Sunday night, throwing for 392 yards and four touchdowns to lead the New Orleans Saints to a dominant 49-17 victory over the Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Brees and the Saints had their way with the Cowboys' defensive unit, setting a an NFL record for first downs in a game with 40, while racking up a whopping 625 yards of total offense, the most ever allowed by the Cowboys in franchise history.
Brees put together a string of 19 consecutive completions at one point and finished 34-of-41 passing, while Mark Ingram racked up 145 yards and a score on 14 carries for the Saints (7-2), who bounced back in a big way from last week's 26-20 loss to the Jets.
"Today was an extremely efficient day on offense...both in the pass and the run," Brees said. "I know a quarterback should mention the offensive line at every press conference but for real...these guys were phenomenal."
Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas each added a rushing and receiving score, while Marques Colston, who missed last week's loss with a knee injury, caught seven passes for a game-high 107 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Tony Romo struggled to find his rhythm throughout the game, completing just 10-of-24 passes for 128 yards and a score for the Cowboys (5-5), who have lost two of their last three games to fall into a tie atop the NFC East with Philadelphia after the Eagles bested Green Bay earlier on Sunday.
"We're 5-5. We're a team that has to play better football than this in all facets," Romo said. "We have to go back and study and figure out what we need to do to be a better football team because that obviously was not good enough."
DeMarco Murray compiled 89 yards and a touchdown on 16 totes in defeat.
Murray's 7-yard TD run early in the second stanza staked Dallas to a 10-7 lead, but the Saints reeled off 28 unanswered points to seize control of the contest.
The first score came on a 15-play trek that Brees extended with a 19-yard completion to Kenny Stills on 3rd-and-7 before capping the drive with another third-down conversion, as he found Thomas out of the backfield for a 1-yard score to put the Saints on top for good.
Dallas went three-and-out on its next two touches and Sproles found the end zone on back-to-back New Orleans' series to send the Saints into the break with a 28-10 cushion.
Sproles' 3-yard surge into the end zone made it 21-10 with 1:32 left in the half before the shifty running back caught a screen pass out to the right and followed a convoy of blockers en route to a 28-yard TD that gave the Saints an 18-point advantage.
Ingram scored from four yards out late in the third to extend the margin, but Dez Bryant came up with a nifty 44-yard grab to set up Romo's 21-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams that gave Dallas a glimmer of hope.
The Cowboys then surprised the Saints with an onside kick that Dallas linebacker Cameron Lawrence recovered, but Romo was whistled for intentional grounding on second down and the Cowboys had to punt.
Brees capped his impressive performance early in the fourth, finding Stills deep down the field on 3rd-and-6 for a 52-yard touchdown that made it 42-17 just over two minutes into the final frame.
After another Dallas three-and-out, Thomas scored from a yard out to account for the final margin.
Early on, Dallas had a prime opportunity to find the end zone after Sproles muffed a punt at his own 22-yard line, but the Cowboys failed to pick up a first down and settled for a 37-yard field goal from Dan Bailey to make it 3-0 with 8:14 left in the first.
Brees kept New Orleans' ensuing touch alive with a pair of third-down conversions to Colston before going back to his trusty wideout for a 22-yard scoring strike that put the Saints on top, 7-3, late in the first.
Dwayne Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards before Murray broke free for 35 more to the New Orleans 32.
Murray then carried the ball on five of the next six plays, with his 7-yard TD run around the left end giving Dallas a three-point lead early in the second.
New Orleans converted 9-of-12 third downs while the Cowboys finished 0-for-9 on third-down efficiency ... New Orleans compiled 242 rushing yards and held Dallas to 89 yards on the ground ... Dallas linebacker Sean Lee left the game early in the second with a hamstring injury and did not return ... The Saints are 5-0 at home this season and 15-3 in their last 18 November games ... Thomas finished with 87 yards on 17 carries while catching seven passes for 24 yards ... Bryant led Dallas' receiving corps with 44 yards, despite being held to just one catch.