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Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints offense falter loss to Dallas Cowboys

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Drew Brees and the historic New Orleans Saints offense came crashing back down to earth Thursday night as their 10-game win streak was snapped by the Dallas Cowboys in a 13-10 slugfest.

Forget “Jerry World.” This was more like “Bizarro World.”

Brees, who is having one of the best quarterback seasons in NFL history, completed just 18 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and a stunning interception with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining when the Saints were still trailing just 13-10.

And the Saints, who were averaging an NFL-best 37.2 points per game, gained only 176 total yards while falling to 10-2 on the season — a half-game behind the Los Angeles Rams in a tight NFC race.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, won their fourth consecutive game to climb to 7-5 on the season by manhandling the Saints all night (as Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence colorfully suggested they would try to do earlier this week).

Brees started the game 0-for-4 passing for the first time in his 18-year career. And it never really got better than that. The Saints’ only touchdown of the night came on a drive when the Cowboys were assessed with 41 penalty yards, including roughing the punter.

Brees was sacked twice Thursday after being sacked a total of two times over his previous six games. His interception (by Dallas cornerback Jourdan Lewis) was especially uncharacteristic — thrown well behind running back Alvin Kamara while the Saints were backed up deep in their own territory. The Cowboys were able to kneel out the clock to seal the game after that.

The Saints gained only 59 yards in the first half while being shut out 13-0 — which was their lowest yardage total in a first half since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And it snapped their league-leading streak of 71 games without being shut out in the first half.

The Saints were especially hot over the past four weeks, averaging 44 points per game, before Thursday’s big flop in Big D.

Ironically, this was the second-longest win streak in Saints history — and the other one, when they started 13-0 in 2009, was also snapped by the Cowboys. The Saints bounced back to win the only Super Bowl in franchise history that season.

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Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys OL, missing first game ever

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For the first time in his career, Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin is inactive as he deals with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

Martin, an Indianapolis native, will be out for the Cowboys’ road game against the Indianapolis Colts in what will be his first missed game at any level — high school, at Notre Dame or in the NFL.

He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Connor Williams.

Martin suffered the knee injury last Sunday against the Eagles and doctors determined that he did not need surgery, but he does need rest to return later this season. Martin wanted to try to play, especially in Indianapolis, where he is from. But the Cowboys are taking the smart approach and now Martin will do something he never has before.

Martin played every game at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, then every game at Notre Dame, then every game with the Cowboys. But when Martin hobbled off the field last Sunday, it meant that he would not get to play in his hometown.

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Fantasy football – NFL Week 15 inactive players for Sunday

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Chad Williams WR ARZ Hammy Q Trent Sherfield gets boost if he can’t go. Ito Smith RB ATL Knee Q Limited practice Friday. Still may play. Joe Flacco QB BAL Hip Q Should be able to backup Lamar Jackson. LeSean McCoy RB BUF Hammy Q Unlikely to play. Ivory is game-time call. Chris Ivory RB BUF Shldr Q Marcus Murphy/Keith Ford tandem? Stephen Hauschka K BUF Hip Q Should be active and kicking on Sunday. Allen Robinson WR CHI Hip Q Practiced fully Friday. Expected to play. Tavon Austin WR DAL Groin Q Hasn’t played since Week 6. Geoff Swaim TE DAL Wrist O Still not practicing after almost a month. Matthew Stafford QB DET Back Q Limited practice. Expected to fight it out. Kerryon Johnson RB DET Knee O Another LeGarrette Blount start. Bruce Ellington WR DET Hammy O Andy Jones/Brandon Powell get bumps. T.Y. Hilton WR IND Ankle Q Game-time call, but not promising. DJ Chark WR JAX Quad O Dede Westbrook might shine again. Josh Lambo K JAX Groin Q Kai Forbath insurance signing this week. Odell Beckham Jr. WR NYG Quad O Once again, both Shepards see more value. DeSean Jackson WR TB Thumb O Chris Godwin/Adam Humphries merit looks. Chris Thompson RB WAS Illness Q Expected to be fine in time to suit up. Josh Doctson WR WAS Cncssn Q Finally out of protocol, has been practicing. Jordan Reed TE WAS Foot O Vernon Davis to start in his place.

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Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph defends kicking field goal on fourth-and-1 vs. Cleveland Browns — ‘I wanted points there’

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DENVER — The Denver Broncos went with math over a gut feel Saturday night, and many of their faithful left the 17-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns talking about a fourth-and-1 on which the team didn’t go for it in the closing minutes as the Broncos dropped to 6-8 and the brink of postseason elimination.

With 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, trailing 17-13 and with a fourth-and-1 on the Cleveland 6-yard line, Broncos coach Vance Joseph sent kicker Brandon McManus out for a field goal as boos cascaded down from the stands.

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