The Dallas Cowboys dealt the New Orleans Saints a surprising defeat on Thursday Night Football, one that Jerry Jones will revel in for some time.
Come late February, Jerry Jones and Sean Payton will be emptying another bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in Indianapolis at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse during the NFL Combine.
The 13-10 Cowboys win on Thursday night will be brought up often.
Jones and Payton go back a long way, to when Payton was the Dallas quarterbacks coach under Bill Parcells in 2003. Payton stayed three seasons before becoming the Saints head coach, a post many believed he would eventually take with the Cowboys.
Maybe that still lies in the future. In the present, Jones is exulting in triumph, something Payton will certainly be ribbed about when the two next get together.
Despite being parts of different franchises, the duo remain close friends. The kind of friends that talk regularly. The kind of friends that desperately want to beat the hell out of each other when the chance arises.
Earlier this month, Payton signed former Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant in hopes of giving his already-potent offense another lift. If you don’t believe that a healthy Bryant would have been featured heavily in Thursday night’s game, there’s a bridge to sell you.
Yet Bryant tore his Achilles in his first practice with the Saints, never giving us the chance to watch the drama unfold. Nothing would have been more entertaining than Bryant throwing up the X towards the owners box, with Payton chomping down on his Juicy Fruit, trying to hide his glee.
This isn’t the first time Jones’ Cowboys have handed Payton and the Saints a primetime defeat. In 2009, New Orleans was 13-0 and pursuing the second 16-0 campaign in NFL history. The dream was ended by Tony Romo and Co. on Saturday Night Football, with Dallas winning 24-17.
Payton rebounded, though, winning Super Bowl XLIV less than two months later.
Now, the Saints will try to bounce back in similar fashion after being upended in a game that saw New Orleans only gain 176 total yards. The defeat puts home-field advantage outside of its destiny, with Payton’s group now hoping the Los Angeles Rams will lose at least once more.
Perhaps this result sets up for the Cowboys and Saints to see each other come January. Should Dallas hold onto the NFC East lead, it’s almost certainly going to be the No. 4 seed. If New Orleans remains in the second slot, it’s conceivable that the Cowboys and Saints meet in the Divisional round.
If it comes to pass, you can bet Jones will be up in the owners box at the Superdome, hoping his friend goes down in spectacular fashion.
As for Payton, he’ll be plowing through Juicy Fruit, hellbent on getting revenge.