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Brees, Saints never find rhythm as 10-game win streak ends

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Drew Brees didn’t have a completion until the final play of the first quarter. His final pass, one he was trying to throw away, got intercepted.

And things certainly weren’t much better in between for Brees and the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, whose 10-game winning streak ended in a 13-10 loss at the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

“We didn’t really find a rhythm pretty much the whole game,” Brees said. “We may have had one decent drive, but for the most part felt like we just didn’t really find a great rhythm with what we were doing.”

He finished 18 of 28 passing for 127 yards passing, including a 30-yard touchdown to Keith Kirkwoodin the third quarter on a drive when two Cowboys penalties extended the drive — a defensive holding call on third down and a roughing the punter near midfield.

Brees was held to under 200 yards for the third time this season, and second week in a row. The Saints (10-2) had their season low with only 176 total yards, and their fewest points in three years — since a 24-6 loss to Houston in Week 12 of the 2015 season.

“I’m not worried about it. We’ll be just fine,” running back Mark Ingram said. “We’ve still got the same playmakers. … We’re good. We’ve just got to fix it. We didn’t do enough today. We’re going to make sure this never happens again.”

New Orleans also converted only three-of-11 third downs, and got stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter after a Cowboys fumble.

“We weren’t really good on the early downs. We didn’t have the balance that we’ve had in prior games,” coach Sean Payton said. “We struggled running the ball with any consistency, and we didn’t want to get into a one-dimensional game.

“Some games you play where you don’t’ have a lot of third downs because you’re operating efficiently, but that was the case certainly in this game,” he said.

New Orleans missed a chance to perfectly match Dallas from two years ago, when then-rookie sensations Elliott and Dak Prescott won 11 straight after dropping the opener.

The Cowboys (7-5) won their fourth consecutive game and assured they will at least remain tied for the NFC East lead.

Alvin Kamari had 72 total yards — 36 yards rushing on 11 carries and 36 yards on eight catches. His took a helmet-to-helmet blow from Jaylon Smith on a short pass when he was stopped short of a first down with about 10 minutes left.

Kamari said afterward, “I’m good.”

There was no penalty on the play.

“What do you think?” Brees said when asked about the non-call. “Let the league deal with that.”

The Saints then punted, and the Cowboys ran nearly 7 minutes off the clock while getting to the New Orleans 6 before Prescott was sacked and fumbled.

“All things considered, to still have a chance to go down and tie or win the game,” Brees said. “So it’s unfortunate because we had an opportunity.”

Two plays later, with Brees under pressure and trying to get rid of the ball, Jourdan Lewis made a diving interception — a play that was upheld on a replay review.

Said Brees, “I was trying to throw it at his feet and kept it a little too high.”

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