Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
All the fun came against New Orleans, the team that handed Jason Garrett his worst loss in four years as Dallas coach last season.
"I had that long ride home last year, and it's not fun," Jones said after the Cowboys beat the Saints 38-17 Sunday night for their first 3-1 start under Garrett. "I've got a lot of friends there and have been New Orleans friendly all my life, but that's a long ride when you have a night like I had in New Orleans a year ago."
The Cowboys kept Drew Brees and the Saints scoreless in the first half after giving up an NFL-record 40 first downs in a 49-17 blowout loss in New Orleans last year.
Romo threw three touchdown passes, including two to Terrance Williams, and Murray scored twice while joining Emmitt Smith as the only Dallas running backs to start a season with four straight 100-yard games.
Murray broke a three-game streak of fumbling in the first quarter as the Cowboys won the turnover battle 3-0. He had 24 carries for 149 yards, pushing his NFL-leading total to 534.
"DeMarco is inspirational," Jones said. "Glad to see him have a game that he didn't turn the ball over. About the time New Orleans was thinking about getting some life, he'd go out and make those yards."
Brees had touchdown passes to Josh Hill and Jimmy Graham early in the fourth quarter to get the Saints (1-3) to 31-17 before the Cowboys regained control.
The former Texas high school star threw for 340 yards, but had just 84 yards with an interception while Dallas was building a 24-0 halftime lead after he had 838 yards with seven touchdowns and no picks in his previous two games against the Cowboys, both wins.
"We had our chances in the second half," Brees said. "But at the end of the day when you look at this game, the entire game, we got beat. We got beat in every facet of it."
Things to consider after the Cowboys became the 11th NFL team — and the second-fastest — to win 500 games, playoffs included:
RUNNING ROMO: The 34-year-old Dallas quarterback showed that his surgically repaired back is coming along fine.
The Cowboys went up 31-3 in the third quarter when Romo broke free for 21 yards on third down and slid for the first down a play before Murray ran loose in the secondary, juked Jairus Byrd at the 10 and was pushed across the goal line by Corey White on a 28-yard score.
"It makes me feel old and the fact that I haven't gotten more than 21 yards is pretty pathetic," said Romo, whose previous long run was 17 yards despite a career known for scrambles that keep plays alive. "But other than that, it feels pretty great."
SAINTS' ROAD WOES: All three of the Saints' losses have been on the road — they opened with an overtime loss at Atlanta, then Cleveland kicked a winning field goal with 3 seconds left.
They were coming off a win over Minnesota in their home opener, but followed that with a Sunday night dud — and far different than the prime-time dominance over Dallas 10 months ago.
"It's challenging. It's disappointing. It's frustrating," coach Sean Payton said. "But it's on all of us now. Obviously, it's not where you want to be one quarter through the season."
A LITTLE PAYBACK: The Cowboys had 445 yards against former Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who directed the scheme that led to one of the franchise's worst offensive performances in years last season, about 10 months after they fired him.
Romo was 22 of 29 for 262 yards without an interception. He finished an 80-yard drive to open the game with a 6-yard pass to a leaping Williams in the end zone and found him again for 23 yards to put Dallas up 24-0 with 19 seconds left in the first half.
GAMBLE BACKFIRES: After pulling to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Saints had a chance to get closer, but a drive stalled and punter Thomas Morstead was tackled for a 2-yard loss while trying to throw a pass on a fake punt. That set up Bryant's clinching touchdown.
"Hindsight's probably 20-20," Payton said. "It was on the hash mark that we wanted, and they covered it pretty well."
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