It went back and forth all day, even in overtime, but the Saints took advantage of huge break to earn a 34-31 win over the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.

The win doesn’t help the Saints, who went to 7-8 but were eliminated from a possible wild card spot. The Cowboys (8-7) still have a shot to win the NFC East next week with a win at Washington.

New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley made a 19-yard field goal to win it, but only after a play that included a catch by Marques Colston and fumble, which then rolled nearly 30 yards forward to the Cowboys’ 2. After a pile-up for the loose ball, Saints TE Jimmy Graham came away with the ball. Replay officials ruled the pass was a catch by Colston before the fumble.

The Cowboys trailed 31-17 with under five minutes to play but got the ball back and marched down the field for a quick touchdown pass from Tony Romo, one of four on the day. The score to Dwayne Harris pulled the Cowboys close, then after a crucial defensive stop and Harris’ 28-yard return, the Cowboys were able to drive and send the game into overtime on Romo’s 19-yard pass to Miles Austin on fourth down with just 15 seconds left.

But with that momentum, coupled with getting the ball back, the Cowboys couldn’t sustain the first drive in overtime, leading to the Saints’ possession and subsequent field-goal drive.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for 446 yards, three scores and no interceptions, while his counterpart, Tony Romo, had 416 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. His favorite target was undoubtedly Dez Bryant, who had a career-high 224 yards on nine catches and two touchdowns.

Tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 60 yards, giving him 103 for the season, setting a new NFL record for catches by a tight end. The mark eclipsed Tony Gonzalez's 102 set in 2004.

When the game turned: Other than the craziness that occurred at the end of regulation and then in overtime, the game took a dramatic turn in the third quarter, with the game tied at 17-17. The Cowboys’ defense made a stop, giving the ball back to the offense. But DeMarco Murray lost a fumble for the second straight week, this time on the Cowboys’ 5. It led to a quick touchdown by the Saints to take a 24-17 lead. While the Cowboys eventually tied the game, they might have been able to win the game had Murray held onto the ball.

Highlight moments:

Dez Bryant came up with several big catches in the game, the first two in the second quarter. His 58-yard touchdown catch where he out-jumped the defender and easily walked into the end zone, tied the game early. Then a dazzling catch and run, again of 58-yards, gave the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.

With the game on the line, the Cowboys faced fourth-and-10 from the Saints’ 19 with just 21 seconds left. Miles Austin had already had a few drops earlier in the game, but used his body to catch one in the end zone to tie the score, completing a wild 14-yard comeback to force overtime.

Darren Sproles was a matchup nightmare for the Cowboys, but he had a catch-and-run of 44 yards in the fourth quarter that led to a big touchdown by the Saints. Sproles had seven catches for 104 yards, but the big chunk occurred on a short pass over the middle where the he made defenders miss for a big gain.

Top-shelf performances:

  • Saints QB Brees -- 37 of 53 passing for 446 yards, 3 TD – 114.2 QB rating
  • Saints WR Marques Colston -- 10 catches, 153 yards
  • Saints RB Sproles -- 7 catches, 104 yards
  • Saints TE Graham -- 7 catches, 88 yards, key fumble recovery in overtime
  • Cowboys QB Romo –- 26 of 43 passing, 410 yards, 4 TDs – 123.8 QB rating
  • Cowboys WR Bryant –- 9 catches, 224 yards, 2 TDs

What they said about Colston’s fumble and Graham’s recovery to set up the winning field goal:

  • Graham -- “I jumped on it and it was underneath my leg. David Thomas was over me snatching people off and Drew jumps on me and he said a bunch of stuff. It was definitely a special moment for me, especially after the ups and downs in the game.”
  • Colston -- “He saved my butt. Even with the win, personally, it’s going to leave a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t do that … It just doesn’t sit well with me.”
  • Saints head coach Joe Vitt: “Jimmy Graham really understands the difference in turnovers now. He (had) two games where he turned the ball over and we weren’t successful, but he was able to use his athleticism and muscle to get the ball. Was huge.
  • Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne -- “I looked at the replay and I was thinking fumble. But I was hoping ‘please let the pass be incomplete.’ But they hustled to the ball and got on it. You are always taught when you go for the tackle to try to knock the ball out. Every time I go in for a tackle, I go for the ball, but we didn’t recover it.”

Numbers you should know: The Cowboys were able to move the ball up and down the field, but struggled mightily on third down, converting just 2 of 10. Meanwhile on the flip side, the Saints were 11 of 19.

Injury update: The Cowboys again lost inside backer Ernie Sims (concussion) in the first half, forcing Alex Albright and Brady Poppinga in the game to try and stay with Sproles. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware was in and out of the game with a neck injury. Saints cornerback Jabari Greer suffered a concussion in the first half and didn’t return.

Going forward: Cowboys -- Dallas will finish the regular season in Washington, looking to win the NFC East. A victory over the Redskins will put them at 9-7 and in a first-place tie with the Redskins and possibly the Giants. But the Cowboys would win based on the tiebreaker of common opponents. Saints -- After an 0-4 start, New Orleans has a chance to rally for a .500 record and 8-8 finish against the Panthers at home.

For more Cowboys information follow @CBSCowboys and @nickeatman.

Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.