December 29, 2003

Saints close out year on a high note

The New Orleans Saints ended the 2003 season on a high note by defeating the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys 13-7 in the Superdome.

The New Orleans defense led the charge for the Saints, recording three interceptions (2 by Jay Bellamy) and sacking Cowboy quarterback Quincy Carter (27/47 290 yards and 1 TD) 3 times.

The Cowboy defense was able to hold Deuce McAllister (21 carries 42 yards) in check, but showed signs of vulnerability against the pass. Aaron Brooks (15/32 243 yards and 1 TD) found Donte Stallworth for a 76-yard completion for the Saints lone touchdown.

Stallworth finished the day with three receptions for 114 yards and a TD. Dallas' rushing attack was unable to get started as six Cowboy rushers contributed 85 yards.

"I thought it was a great team effort by everybody," said coach Jim Haslett. "The guys came to play. We played hard and smart. We had a couple penalties that hurt us but it was about as well as we have played this season."

The win marked the first time under Jim Haslett that the SAints won their final regular season game.

While the Saints ended their season Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys will now go to Carolina to take on the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.

"We weren't very good today," said Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells. "We had a lot of plays that we didn't execute well. We also had a lot of inordinate amount of penalties. We had quite a few, especially at the wrong times. I was a little disappointed. We fell down on that last play (the interception by Bellamy). We were probably going to score there on that last interception (that Quincy Carter threw). Terry was wide open. It was a perfect play, perfect protection. He just fell down. That probably wins the game for us if we catch that ball. Really, to tell you the truth, we probably didn't deserve to win it even if we would have won. That's not our best. We're going to have to do a lot better than that if we're going to make any progress next week."

Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks said the win was a great conclusion to a wild season.

"It's been a crazy year for the Saints," said Brooks. "We have a lot of football left to go. I definitely have a lot of football left. It's been disappointing trying to fight to get to .500 all season long. The way we finished up today was promising, but promises is something we don't want to have. We want good solutions. That's something that we have to work on. We have to make that happen as players and as a staff. We are professionals. We have to become more professional. There needs to be more professionalism going on throughout the whole year. Once we become more professional in what we are doing, then we will be one dangerous team to look out for."

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