NEW ORLEANS — The Dallas Cowboys played their worst game of the season against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.
"No, I didn’t see it coming," said team owner Jerry Jones.
Monte Kiffin's first-year defense fell apart, allowing 625 yards of total offense.
Saints running back Mark Ingram rushed for 145 yards on 14 carries. Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards.
The Dallas defensive performance turned for the worse when their leader, linebacker Sean Lee, left the game with a hamstring injury early in the second quarter.
"The Cowboys' defense is almost unrecognizable without their stars in there," said NBC Sports NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth.
The 49-17 loss left Cowboys fans wondering if the team suddenly quit on the coaching staff.
"I don’t know," Jones said. "I think that's way too much. I know as the game wore along, we didn’t have guys out there who were out there at the start of the game."
"There were just very few plays that we stopped," said a flustered Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "[The Saints] ran the ball when they wanted to run it. I thought Drew Brees did a fantastic job reading coverage and finding the right guy."
The Saints picked up 40 first downs, an NFL single-game record.
"We looked out there at the end of the game and we had three starters playing for us on defense," Garrett said. "We had a lot of young guys and a lot of new guys. That’s not an excuse by any means, but we’ve got to get the guys who are playing on our team right now ready to play better and get our guys who aren't able to play, get them back. We’ll need them here for the stretch."
Jones was asked if he was embarrassed by his team's performance. "It's anything that goes along with losing that you can say," he said. "It's embarrassing to lose, but it’s embarrassing to not be representative; not be competitive; all of those things. The real issue is, can we do something about it?"
The Cowboys head into the bye week with a 5-5 record, tied with Philadelphia for the East Division lead and with an unblemished 3-0 record against division opponents.