Saints deserved to lose that game.
Drew Brees: C- (3.17) It wasn't all on him, but Brees just didn't play that well. Granted, while he fumbled twice he was under constant pressure all day long. If not for his pocket presence and awareness he would have been sacked way more than 4 times. His interception was just a bad read and an even worse throw. He did not do a good job of making throws on third down. A subpar game for the Saints' superstar, and his MVP push may have taken a hit. He made some nice throws late on the rally, but the Saints were in too big of a hole to climb out. He finished 29-45 for 298 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He rushed twice for 8 yards, lost two fumbles, and caught a batted pass of his before getting tackled for a 4 yard loss.
Reggie Bush: B- (2.61) Hard to give him a full grade because he left with an injury and didn't return. Too bad, he was playing pretty well before he left. His one run was a beautiful 29 yard sprint down the left sideline. He also caught 2 passes for 17 yards, one of which had significant real estate if he hadn't come up gimpy. Give him credit also for running forward on his lone punt return. Ultimately, he didn't see enough action to make a difference.
Mike Bell: C+ (2.73) Bell never really got a chance to get going. He was stuffed on his first attempt. He had a couple of nice runs early in the 4th quarter, including a touchdown run, but he finished with just 8 yards on 4 carries. Not enough opportunity.
Pierre Thomas: C+ (3.05) Thomas was unusually quiet, other than a screen pass he took for 29 yards late. He never really got going in the running game, and the Saints abandoned it to catch up. He did a decent job as a security valve in the passing game. He had just 20 yards on 6 carries, and 50 yards on 5 receptions.
Marques Colston: B (2.95) Colston, to me, didn't seem to get that open. He has great hands and a nice frame to make some impressive grabs, but I felt like he never got much separation from the Dallas defense. Fortunately, Brees went to him in tight windows and it seemed to work. He finished with a pretty decent game, 5 catches for 86 yards.
Lance Moore: B- (2.54) Again, hard to grade him because Brees never really looked his way and he didn't play all that much. He filled in on punt return duties when Bush left, and got hit hard one where he should have called for a fair catch. Moore did get a touchdown on a screen pass, though, which also included nice blocking by Meachem and Colston. That was his lone catch, but it gave the Superdome new life as it brought the game within striking distance.
Devery Henderson: D+ (2.83) Henderson was covered by Mike Jenkins all night like a blanket. On the interception, Jenkins was step for step with him. There were several other plays where Brees would try to get Henderson involved and he was just not open. On a terribly underthrown ball by Brees in the end zone at one point, Henderson was covered but did a nice job adjusting to the pass. Unfortunately on that play, he dropped an easy touchdown catch. Devery Henderson and "drops" have been becoming all too synonymous lately. He finished with just 2 catches for 22 yards, but did a good job of breaking a tackle and getting out of bounds late to at least give the Saints a chance.
Robert Meachem: B- (3.17) 5 catches for 43 yards in the game. Nothing great, nothing terrible.
David Thomas: A- (2.47) Thomas was by far the most used weapon in the passing game. He stepped in for an injured Shockey and did a great job of showing soft hands and ability after the catch. He finished with an impressive 8 catches for 77 yards. Good thing I picked him up and started him in my fantasy league right as I heard Shockey was out for the game. Thomas also threw two monster lead blocks for Mike Bell on the first touchdown drive, and he also sprung the Reggie Bush run free with a nice seal. Shockey is a big part of what the Saints do, but I can't really say there was any dropoff with Thomas in the game.
Jermon Bushrod: D- (2.54) I long considered giving him my second F of the season. He definitely deserves an F for his play, but I think Bushrod shows effort and he at least threw a beautiful block on Bush's run. In pass protection, he was a disaster. Dallas finished with 4 sacks, all coming from the left side. One of those was on Pierre Thomas, but the fact that Anthony Spencer went twice to hit Brees untouched was inexcusable. Anytime DeMarcus Ware was in the game, he beat Bushrod like a red headed step child. If it wasn't for Brees' pocket awareness, Bushrod would have been responsible for many more atrocious offensive plays. As the NFL Network crew pointed out, his footwork and balance were terrible. Maybe it's time to give Zach Strief another go. Whether it was using speed, power, or anything at all, Ware made Bushrod look like he was out of high school. Embarassing performance by the left tackle.
Carl Nicks: C (3.03) Nicks just didn't get it done. He didn't help Bushrod, he didn't get his usual push in the running game, and his pass protection was nothing special. Granted, he never really got a chance to show what he could do in either situation because the Saints hardly ran the ball and Bushrod was getting beat much faster than anyone else on the line.
Jonathan Goodwin: B (3.17) Goodwin showed nice toughness bouncing back from an injury and he played overall pretty well. He made most of his assignments, create running lanes, and did a good job of letting Brees step up in the pocket with constant outside pressure.
Jahri Evans: C+ (3.24) Evans had a holding penalty and he didn't have his best game in pass protection. At times he manhandled his man, but at others his play was average. Overall the whole line deserves criticism for the poor job running the ball and the horrendous job protecting Brees.
Jon Stinchcomb: C (2.81) Stinchcomb was fortunate to get an illegal contact call on the Cowboys on the same play that he was completely beat and allowed his man to sack Brees within about a second of the ball getting snapped. I'm not sure Stinchcomb even laid a finger on the defender on that play. He was beaten around the edge several times, but he was bailed out often by Brees' feet and/or Bushrod's superior awfulness.
My Offensive Player of the Game: David Thomas