NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Drew Brees completed 26 of 30 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints opened a 28-10 halftime over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
Brees connected with Marques Colston on a 22-yard scoring strike, with running back Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard score and then with running back Darren Sproles for a 28-yard score with 5 seconds left in the half.
DeMarco Murray had 80 yards rushing on 11 carries and a touchdown for Dallas, highlighted by his 35-yard scamper on a fake reverse. That set up his 7-yard scoring run, which gave Dallas a short-lived 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Cowboys' porous pass defense entered the game already having set an NFL record by allowing four quarterbacks to throw for more than 400 yards this season. Brees was on track to become the fifth. At one point, he strung together 19 straight completions, tying his personal best and franchise record.
Sproles, whose concussion one week earlier forced him to miss most of the Saints 26-20 loss to the Jets in New York, caught seven passes for 76 yards in the opening half against Dallas.
Getting Colston involved was another encouraging sign for the Saints one week after the veteran receiver sat out the loss to the Jets.
Colston had six catches for 94 yards in the quarter. His touchdown catch was the 60th of his career, all coming from Brees.
On the touchdown, Sproles made a key block on blitzing linebacker Barry Church, giving Brees enough time to find Colston over the middle. Colston then slipped safety Jeff Heath's tackle before diving across the goal line.
For Sproles, the key block was the first of several highlights that atoned for an early muffed punt that gave the Cowboys the ball on the Saints' 22-yard line after a diving recovery Dallas' Dwayne Harris.
With an energized nighttime crowd in the Superdome roaring, the Cowboys had to call timeout on third-and-short, then came back out an committed a false start penalty. Dallas was then unable to convert for a first down and settled for Dan Bailey's 37-yard field goal.
The Cowboys were frustrated most of the half, however. Dallas had 100 total yards and four first downs in the half, while the Saints racked up 320 total yards and 21 first downs.
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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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