Rob Ryan lets his Saints’ defense do the talking against Cowboys

Posted Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Rob Ryan let the New Orleans Saints defense do his talking Sunday night.

And it did plenty.

The Saints held Tony Romo to one of his worst first-half performances and kept Dez Bryant without a catch until late in the third quarter. Even two game-changing plays on Dallas special teams were wasted, leading to just one field goal.

The Cowboys’ 49-17 loss to the Saints in front of a nationwide audience offered Ryan some level of mental compensation for being fired after last season, even if he claimed this week that he didn’t need it. Even his players didn’t believe him, based on the way he handled practices and meetings leading up to the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“I’m sure it meant a lot to him,” Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said. “This is a professional business, so you make sure you maintain that degree of professionalism. But some games beyond and are more personal than others.”

Managing a defense full of holes one season earlier, Ryan has patched many of them up. The Saints held Romo to 128 yards on 10 of 24 attempts. Romo threw just one score and was sacked three times. Bryant caught just one pass and was targeted twice. Even tight end Jason Whitten was neutralized, finishing with two catches for 27 yards.

Ryan’s Saints defense entered Sunday’s game ranked ninth; the Cowboys were 31st out of 32 teams, a ranking that only worsened after allowing a club-record-breaking amount of yards.

When Saints defensive end Tom Johnson and linebacker Parys Haralson sacked Romo on consecutive plays late in the fourth, Ryan celebrated by smacking his laminated defensive play card.

“We tried to turn them into a one-dimensional team since they had just like nine runs last week [against Minnesota],” Johnson said. “Once they got behind, the D-line could just go after [Romo].”

That’s just what Ryan wanted to see.

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