"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."
"I looked at the replay and I knew there was a fumble," Claiborne said. "I was looking at it saying, 'Please, let the pass be incomplete.'"
The Cowboys (8-7), who had their third consecutive game decided on the last play, had retaken control of their playoff hopes with a three-game winning streak. Despite the loss, Dallas' postseason hopes remained healthy when the New York Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Cowboys face the Washington Redskins on the road in next week's finale, with a chance to make the playoffs as NFC East champions with a victory. Their chances of making the postseason as a wild card are remote.
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.
"There was no panic," Brees said. "It was almost like we knew the game would come down to something like this. We just wanted that opportunity and the defense gave it to us."
Romo also had a pair of 58-yard scoring passes to Dez Bryant, who had a career-high 224 yards receiving. Romo completed 26 of 43 passes and broke his own franchise record for passing yards in a season. He has 4,685.
Brees was 37-of-53 passing in the ninth 400-yard game of his career.
The Saints turned a 14-7 deficit late in the first half into a 17-14 halftime lead in the final 1:11.
Brees led a 90-yard scoring drive that included Vitt changing his mind and going on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 23. A completion to Colston was overturned on replay, but Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer lined up offside to give the Saints a first down anyway. Brees threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Lance Moore three plays later.
NOTES: Dallas tight end Jason Witten had two catches in OT, breaking Tony Gonzalez's NFL season record of 102 catches for a tight end set in 2004. Witten has 103. ... Cowboys LB Ernie Sims left in the first half with dizziness a week after sustaining a concussion. ... Saints CB Jabari Greer, who had two interceptions last week, left the game with a concussion.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press