The Dallas Cowboys can’t kick; they had their chances--two of them--near the finish. The New Orleans Saints got one and made it count.
Morten Andersen, the most accurate kicker in National Football League history with a career percentage of 80%, kicked a 49-yard field goal as time ran out Monday night, giving the New Orleans Saints a 20-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
“That was probably my biggest one,” said Anderson, who ran around the field in elation after the kick. “I’ve got to see the replay of this one.
“I went blank out there for about 3 minutes. Elation, pure joy, I didn’t know what to do. I just started running and jumping to work off all that energy I had left. High-fives, low-fives, head butts.
“Then I thought I’d better get the heck out of here before I got hurt.”
Dallas (2-3) tied the score, 17-17, on Roger Ruzek’s 39-yard field goal with 24 seconds left, but Ruzek had another 39-yarder hit the left post and bounced away with 2:22 remaining.
Anderson’s kick overcame a two-man show by Steve Pelluer, who was 23 of 35 for 271 yards and ran for 54 more, and Herschel Walker, who had 124 yards in 26 carries for the Cowboys.
The Saints (4-1) moved into a three-way tie with the Rams and San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West lead.
Mel Gray returned the kickoff after Ruzek’s tying kick 39 yards to the New Orleans 42. Bobby Hebert passed 26 yards to Brett Perriman to the Cowboys’ 32 and Andersen trotted onto the field with 2 seconds left. His kick was down the middle.
“I couldn’t believe we’d get it down there close enough,” Andersen said. “What was it--22 seconds, 16 seconds? I was thinking overtime.”
Hebert said he told Perriman to make a slight adjustment to a route he ran on the previous play.
“Everson Walls had great coverage, but we knew he wasn’t looking, so I just laid it in over him,” Hebert said.
It was only the second win in 13 meetings with Dallas for the Saints, who last beat the Cowboys on Oct. 17, 1971.