Saints out of playoffs,
An 0-4 start hurt chances for team that has won seven of its last 11 games.
ARLINGTON — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints won’t go to the playoffs in their season without suspended coach Sean Payton.
The Dallas Cowboys still have a say in whether they get there.
Playing near Payton’s home in a Dallas suburb, Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and led a drive to Garrett Hartley’s winning 20-yard field goal in overtime, and the Saints briefly took the Cowboys’ playoff fate out of their hands with a 3431 overtime victory on Sunday.
The Cowboys (8-7) regained control of their postseason hopes when the New York Giants lost at Baltimore later Sunday. Dallas will make the playoffs as the NFC East champion with a victory at Washington next Sunday night. A wild-card spot is no longer a possibility for the Cowboys.
The Saints, who started 0-4 after being stunned by the yearlong ban for Payton in the team’s bounty scandal, lost their faint playoff hopes when Minnesota beat Houston, and had to hold off a twotouchdown rally in the final 3:35 by Dallas.
Tony Romo had 416 yards passing and four TDs, including a 19-yarder to Miles Austin with 15 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
“Even if we would have won today, we would have needed that game next week obviously. There’s easier places to go play than New York, Philly and Washington for the division every year,” Romo said before the Giants lost.
“We’re never going to let anyone tell us we’re not playing for something,” Brees said. “We knew there were a lot of things that had to happen. We wanted to worry about the things we could control. What would have been worse is if Minnesota had lost and we had lost.”
After New Orleans (7-8) forced a punt on the first possession of overtime, Brees moved the Saints to the Cowboys 33. He completed a pass to Marques Colston, who took a couple of steps before Morris Claiborne stripped the ball, sending it rolling about 20 yards to the Dallas 2.
Jimmy Graham, who said he dislocated a finger on a 26-yard catch to start the drive, won a scrum with Dallas’ Eric Frampton. The completion that started the bizarre play was held up on review, clearing the way for Hartley’s kick.
The Cowboys started the day with their playoff fate in their hands, and ended it the same way thanks to the Ravens, who beat the Giants 33-14. A Dallas win over the Redskins would guarantee a tie atop the NFC East, and the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker edge.
“When you are in this situation, you have to go forth like you are playing for a playoff spot,” Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears said.
“Trying to determine what will happen, all of that will get in the way of us preparing for the Redskins.”
The Cowboys pulled within a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Romo to Dwayne Harris and got the ball back with 1:29 remaining. Romo led the Cowboys 64 yards in seven plays, capped by the tying toss to Austin, who caught the ball on his knees in the end zone. It was Dallas’ third overtime game in the past five at home.
Romo also had a pair of 58-yard scoring passes to Dez Bryant, who had a career-high 224 yards receiving. Romo was 26 of 43 and broke his own franchise record for passing yards in a season. He has 4,685.
New Orleans’ Garrett Hartley kicks the winning field goal in overtime.