Following the Dallas Cowboys’ impressive Thursday Night Football victory over the red-hot New Orleans Saints, there were plenty of storylines. But the play of linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch certainly took center stage. The duo played a big role in shutting down an electrifying Saints offense, holding Drew Brees and company to just 10 points in Week 13.
After the win, it was brought to light by RJ Choppy of ‘Shan and RJ’ on 105.3 The Fan that the duo now has a new nickname which is pretty much perfect.
Just to make it official, one fan opted to create a picture of the duo with the new nickname, and it seems like there’s a chance this could stick.
Cowboys’ Eye-Opening Defensive Play vs. Saints
The NFL’s best offense in the Saints had no answer for what the Cowboys threw their way in this game. New Orleans was held to just 176 total yards of offense in the 13-10 loss. Even more surprising was the fact that their passing game was almost completely held in check.
Top MVP candidate Drew Brees threw for just 127 yards and if not for a 30-yard touchdown when a Cowboys defender slipped, that number could have been even lower. Along with that, no Saints pass-catcher had more than 40 receiving yards in the loss, as Michael Thomas led the way with exactly 40, and only two wide receivers even caught a pass.
But where Smith and Vander Esch came up so big was in the ability to avoid giving up yards after contact, specifically to running back Alvin Kamara. Although Kamara received 19 total touches, they went for only 72 yards. Mark Ingram was also bottled up, finishing with nine touches for 28 yards.
Cowboys Offense Gets Well-Rounded Production
Although the Cowboys scored just 13 points in the win, they were facing a team who boasted the NFL’s top run defense. Ezekiel Elliott was able to grind out 76 yards on the ground while also catching six passes for 60 yards and one touchdown. His ability to move the chains in both aspects was key to the victory.
As for Dak Prescott and the passing game, the Cowboys signal-caller completed 24-28 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown. He showed great rapport with both Amari Cooper (eight catches, 75 yards) and rookie Michael Gallup (five catches, 76 yards). Gallup’s strong play early in the game helped to open things up for Elliott and Cooper as well.
The victory for Dallas moved them to 7-5 on the season and extended their winning streak to four games. It also snapped the Saints’ 10-game streak and moved them to 10-2 on the year.