Ryan L. Fox
It has been a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde season for the Patriots so far. While they have beaten their opponents (New York Jets and Houston Texans) and displayed dominance at key junctures, at home was a different story. At Gillette, the Patriots have struggled more so than in years past. They have turned the ball over at key points and have been bested by all three opponents they faced.
Trying to find their first win at home, they welcomed in the NFC East division-leading Dallas Cowboys. The two teams squared off in a back-and-forth in a game that needed overtime to determine a winner. But some of the problems that plagued the Patriots throughout the season reared their ugly heads as in the end, the team and their fans found heartbreak and seeking questions.
The Texans opened up with the ball to begin the game. KR/RB Tony Pollard brought the ball out to the Dallas 23, but the Dallas return unit was hit with an illegal double-team block, bringing the ball back to the Dallas 12 as QB Dak Prescott and the offense took to the field.
The drive started off with Dallas able to move the ball against the Patriots defense up to their own 25. But a holding on 1st and 10 from the Dallas 25 brought the ball back to the Dallas 15. After a 5-yard run by Ezekiel Elliot, Prescott hit WR Amari Cooper left side for 14 yards to make it 3rd and short on the Dallas 34. After Elliot got stuffed on third down, the Cowboys faced with 4th and short on their own 34. Rather than punt, Dallas went for it as Elliot was stuffed. Coach Mike McCarthy tried to challenge the spot but the call was upheld, forcing a turnover on downs as New England got the ball with excellent field position.
On the first play from scrimmage, RB Damien Harris ran right up the middle against the Dallas defense for 21 yards to the Dallas 13. Following a 9-yard pass from QB Mac Jones to TE Jonnu Smith, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 1 at the Dallas 4. Harris took a direct snap and bowled his way up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run and the game’s first score. K Nick Folk booted the PAT through the uprights to give the Patriots the early 7-0 with 10:20 left in the first quarter.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Cowboys got the ball back at their own 25. The Dallas Cowboys offense came back onto the field and the proceeded to air the ball out. Prescott peppered the Patriots secondary with pass after pass, including hitting TE Dalton Schultz for a 23-yard pass on 2nd and 7 at the New England 24 to the New England 1. On 1st and goal from the New England 1, Prescott found TE Blake Jarwin in the end zone. K Greg Zuerlein booted the PAT through the uprights to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
On the Patriots next possession, Jones hit RB Rhamondre Stevenson on back-to-back passes (first for 14-yards and then 22-yards) to move the Patriots down to the Dallas 39. Following a 4-yard run by Stevenson and a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Dallas CB Trevon Diggs, the Patriots had 1st and goal at the Dallas 20. Jones then dropped back to pass before looking and hitting TE Hunter Henry in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. Folk kicked the PAT through the uprights to help the Patriots regain the lead 14-7 with 4:50 left in the first quarter.
With the game starting to get out of reach, the Cowboys got the ball back on their own 25 following the touchback on the ensuing kickoff. Prescott lead the offense down the field, including getting a 3-yard run by Elliot on a 4th and 1 at the Dallas 47 to midfield as well as a 20-yard pass to WR Noah Brown to the New England 40. An 11-yard pass from Prescott to Cooper to the New England 30 ended up being the final play of the first quarter as both teams switched sides.
The Cowboys opened up the second quarter with a 9-yard run by Elliot to the New England 21. The Cowboys moved the ball down to the New England 16 were on 3rd and 9, Prescott tried to find WR Cedrick Wilson in the endzone. Instead, he found S Kyle Dugger, who brought the ball up to the New England 29.
After a 15-yard horse collar tackle on Cowboys rookie LB Micah Parsons and a 5-yard run by Harris, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 5 from the New England 45. Jones then found WR Nelson Agholor deep along the right side for a 27-yard pass down to the Dallas 28. Two plays later, Jones found WR Jakobi Meyers for what would have been a 25-yard touchdown but the play was wiped out due to a holding call on G James Ferentz. Then on the ensuing play on, Jones was sacked by Cowboys DE Randy Gregory and lost the ball. Cowboys DE Chauncey Golston scooped up the ball and rumbled to the Dallas 48 before being tackled there.
With good field position, the Cowboys offense took over and moved the ball down the field. But they ultimately had to settle for a field goal as Zuerleins’s 30-yard attempt went through the uprights to make it 14-10 with 6:37 left in the second quarter.
After KR/WR Gunner Olszewski brought the ball out to the New England 26, the Patriots offense went back onto the field. They only got up to their own 35 before being forced to punt. But on the punt, Cowboys LB Luke Gifford broke through and blocked the kick before scooping up the ball and returning it to the New England 17.
With time winding down before halftime, the offense took to the field. The Cowboys got down to the New England 1 before facing 1st and goal from there. After Elliot got stuff on three consecutive rushes, the Cowboys were faced with 4th and inches. Rather than kick the field goal, McCarthy elected to go for it. Prescott dove over the pile and the initial call on the field was that it was a touchdown. But upon review, it showed that Patriots LB Ja'Whaun Bentley knocked Prescott’s arm, causing him to drop the ball as LB Kyle Van Noy recovered in the end zone for the touchback.
The Patriots sere simply content going into half time with the lead as they ran the clock out with a few kneel downs.
When the second half began, the two teams began to exchange punts with each other for the early goings of the third quarter.
Following a Patriots punt, the Cowboys got the ball back on their own 9. After a holding penalty on RG Zach Martin backed the team up to their own 5, Prescott hit Elliot for an 18-yard catch-and-run to the Dallas 23 for the first down. Two plays later, Prescott hit Noah for a 27-yard pass to the New England 47 and then followed it with a 20-yard pass to Schultz to the New England 27.
The Cowboys got down to the New England 1 (included getting a pass interference call on Patriots CB J.C. Jackson in the end zone) before facing 1st and goal from there. Prescott then dropped back and found Lamb in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown. Zuerlein kicked the PAT through the uprights as the Cowboys regained the lead 17-14 with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
Zuerlein then booted a 45-yard field on the Cowboys’ next possession to make it 20-14 with 13:13 left in the fourth quarter as it seemed that the Cowboys were slowly pulling away in the game.
The Patriots got the ball back on their own 25 as Jones and the offense took to the field. Following a penalty on Dallas (too many men on the field), the Patriots began to move against the Dallas defense. This also included converting two early 3rd-down opportunities (3 yards on 3rd and 3 from the New England 48 and then later on 3rd and 9 from the Dallas 48). Following converting their second 3rd-down opportunity, Jones found Meyers over the middle for 11-yards and then Harris rumbled down the middle for 21-yards to the Dallas 16.
The Patriots offense got all the way down to the Dallas 1 where on 2nd and goal from there, Stevenson bowled his way over the goalline for the touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights to help his team retake the lead 21-20 with 6:24 left in the fourth quarter.
Following the Patriots touchdown, the Cowboys tried to respond with their own score. Unfortunately, Zuerlein’s 51-yard field goal attempt went wide left and gave the Patriots the ball on their own 41.
After Harris’ run on first down went for no gain and then a delay of game called on the offense, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 15 from their own 36. Jones dropped back to pass, trying to find WR Kendrick Bourne over the middle. The ball bounced off Bourne’s finger tips and into the waiting hands of Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs at the New England 42, who returned it all the way for the touchdown. Rather than going for the sure PAT, the Cowboys decided to go for the 2-point conversion. The play got blown up as the score remained 26-21 with under 2 and a half minutes left in the game.
Following Olszewski’s 24-yard return to the New England 25, the offense came back out onto the field. On the first snap from scrimmage, Jones dropped back to pass. He then found Bourne deep over the left side as he dropped the ball only where his receiver could make the catch. With no Cowboys defender back, Bourne simply jogged into the end zone to complete the 75-yard touchdown strike. Rather than go for the PAT, they elected to go for two. Jones found Meyers in the end zone to complete the two conversion to make it 29-26 Patriots with a little over 2 minutes left in the game.
Following the 27-yard return by Pollard to the Dallas 29, Prescott and the offense went onto the field down three points. They moved the ball to the Dallas 35 before facing a 4th and 4 from there. Prescott then found Wilson over the left side for 13-yards for the first down at the Dallas 48. A 12-yard pass to Schultz afterwards made it 1st and 10 from New England 40. Following an incompletion, the Cowboys were faced with 2nd and 10. Prescott’s pass fell incomplete but LG Connor Williams got hit with a dead ball, personal foul penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct) as the Cowboys got backed up to their own 45 and had a loss of down. Facing a 3rd and 25, Prescott found Lamb for a 24-yard pass to the New England 31.
Playing for the tie, McCarthy elected to go for the field goal. Zuerlein lined up and booted the ball through to tie the game at 29-29 with 20 seconds left in the game.
A 6-yard run by Harris on the Patriots’ ensuing possession was the final play of regulation as overtime was needed to settle the game.
The Patriots ended up winning the overtime coin toss and elected to receive the ball to begin the extra period.
After the initial kickoff, the Patriots got the ball on their own 25 to start the extra period. Following an incompletion, Jones found Meyers over the middle for 14-yards to the New England 39. After two consecutive runs by Harris, the Patriots were faced with a 3rd and 3 from their own 46. Jones pass to Agholor went incomplete as Bailey came in to boot the ball away.
The Cowboys got the ball back on their own 20 to begin their first possession of overtime. After Elliot’s 2-yard run on first down, Prescott found Lamb over the right side for a 14-yard pass to the Dallas 36. Prescott then peppered the Patriots secondary with consecutive passes, moving the ball into New England territory for the first time in overtime. After a 7-yard pass from Prescott to Lamb moved the ball to the New England 35, giving the team another first down. Then on the very next play, Prescott heaved a pass to a wide open Lamb, who simple trotted into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Mac Jones: 15-for-21 for 229 yards, 2 TD, and 1 INT, for a QB rating of 119.0, 2 carry for -4 yards (-2.0 yards per carry) and one fumble lost, 1 2-pt conversion pass
RB Damien Harris: 18 carries for 101 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 1 TD
WR Kendrick Bourne: 1 catch (on 2 targets) for 75 yards and 1 TD
WR Jakobi Meyers: 5 catches (on 6 targets) for 44 yards and a 2-pt conversion catch
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 13 tackles (12 solo, 1 assist) and 1 forced fumble
LB Kyle Van Noy: 4 tackles (4 solo, 0 assist) and 1 fumble recovery
CB Jalen Mills: 8 tackles (6 solo, 2 assists)
S Kyle Dugger: 8 tackles (8 solo, 0 assists), 1 interception, and 1 pass defended
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
93 – The yard difference between both teams going into halftime (Dallas 235 compared to New England 128)
10:02– The difference of time of possession between both teams going into halftime (Dallas with 20:02 and the Patriots had 9:58)
2:09 – The time mark in the 3rd quarter when the Patriots had their first incompletion of the game
2,502 – The total amount of touchdowns by the Dallas Cowboys as a franchise, the most by a team since 1960
7 – The number of interception by Dallas CB Trevon Diggs, which leads the NFL
75 – The amount of yards covered on Mac Jones pass to WR Kendrick Bourne in the 4th quarter, the longest play from scrimmage for the Patriots this season
29 – The number of points scored by the Patriots in the game, the most points they scored in a single game this season (averaged 15.3 points per home game going into this matchup)
0 – The number of sacks the Patriots had in the game, the first time that’s happened in a game this season
445 – The total net passing yards allowed by the Patriots defense (coming into the game, they only allowed 206.6 passing yards per game for 4th best in the NFL)
Did You Know That…
- This is the first time these teams have met when the Cowboys entered with a better record since Week 3, 1981 (DAL won 35-21). This also was the first time since Week 16 of the 1996 NFL season (12-6 victory for Dallas that year) that the Cowboys have beaten the Patriots (Patriots have won the last 5 meetings between the two teams)
- With their 4th loss at home this year, this marks the first time that the Patriots have gone winless during their first 4 home games of a season during the Belichick coaching era. It’s also been the first time since 1993 since that has happened as well
- Hunter Henry's touchdown reception in the first quarter was his 3rd receiving TD this season. That actually ties the combined total by previous Patriots tight ends in the previous two seasons
- With Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs’ interception of Mac Jones in the 4th quarter, that gives him 7 for the year. That ties him with HOF DB Rod Woodson for the most interceptions through the first 6 games of a season since the 1970 NFC-AFC merger
My Two Cents
Cent #1: I’ve been doing the Patriots Postgame Notebook for 6 years now (2016 to present day) and out honestly, I have never seen the Patriots in such a sorry state when they play at home. I mean, going into the game they averaged just 15.3 points per game at home (they were able to raise it to 18.8 ppg at home after tonight’s game). They also had a turnover differential of -6 and feels like they make costly mistakes or penalties that cost them the game.
There is no consistency whatsoever. One game, the offense is the one that struggles and that the defense is the one that has to carry the team. In another game, the defense is the one struggling at that the offense is the one carrying the team.
Next week, the Patriots are hosting the Jets so there’s an easy victory right there. But then you have a match up with the Cleveland Browns in Week 10, the Tennessee Titans in Week 12, the Buffalo Bills in Week 16, and then the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17. So right there, the team is looking at a possible 1-3 record in those games and possibly finish 2-7 at home for the season. Yeah…you’re winning
Cent #2: How in the hell did the Patriots allow the Cowboys to win? Seriously, how in the hell did that happen? I can’t wrap my brain around what I just saw.
The Cowboys had 12 penalties for 115 for the game, had a missed field goal, had a missed 2-point conversion, and were an embarrassing 3-for-13 on 3rd downs. They held RB Ezekiel Elliot to under 100 yards (69 yards on 17 carries) and pretty much made WR Amari Cooper irrelevant (finished 5 catches for 55 yards). Oh yeah, they botched a 4th and inches at the goalline right before half time (Dak having the ball knocked out) and sequences leading up to that play was just overwhelmingly dumb (I could have told you 3 straight rushes up the middle by Elliott was the best plan was dumb).
The Cowboys kept pulling a Plaxico Burress and shot themselves multiple times in the foot throughout the entire game. Yet somehow, the Patriots were like, ‘Nah fam, we don’t really want to win.’
And now a bonus cent:
Cent #3: I am really not looking forward to the visiting Jets next week. I mean, I am reaaaallllly not looking forward to Jet week.
Calling it now, that sorry sack of an organization is going to stroll on it, get pants, and get their ass kicked like 30-10 and the crawl back out. And everybody is going to be like, ‘WOOPIE! SEE! WE GOT OUR FIRST VICTORY OF THE GAME! WE’RE GONNA MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!’
Do yourself a favor Patriots fans. Just accept the victory in a gracious manner and then move on. If your only wins are against the Jets and the Texans, you might need to rethink where this organization is at.
Fox Fist Bump
This week, I’m holding off on giving a Fox Fist bump.
The closest thing I can give is a pat on the back to QB Mac Jones and RB Damien Harris.
Again, Jones finished with an efficient stat line for the game (15-for-21 for 229 yards and 2 TDs) but he got hit with turnovers (a fumble and an interception). But I’m gonna say that both were not his fault. The fumble was due to the fact that LT Isaiah Wynn just allowed Cowboys DE Randy Gregory to just steam on by and kill Jones. The interception bounced off WR Kendrick Bourne’s fingers and into the waiting arms of CB Trevon Diggs.
With Damien Harris, the dude ran hard for the entire game. He finished with 101 yards rushing (on 18 carries), which led all rushers for the entire game. Yup, Harris outran Elliot.
But that falls under the category of ‘morale victories’, which is something that a losing franchise brags about.
The Meatball of the Game
I name the Patriots defense as the biggest meatball of the game.
Where was this ‘stout’ defense that everybody was bragging about. I’ll tell you where they went. They were a damn no-show for the entire game that’s for sure.
They allowed the Cowboys to just not only drive up and down the field on them (567 yards of total offense) but they only had just 1 punt for the entire game. Yup, you read that correctly folks. The Cowboys only punted once for the entire 66 minutes and 8 seconds that this game took. They also gave up 28 points to the Cowboys offense for the entire game
Dak Prescott had a field day back there, throwing the ball all over the place to the tune of 445 yards against a defense that was 4th in the league against the pass (allowed just 206.6 passing yards per game). They did not sack Dak once or really put any sort of consistent pressure on him. As a Giants fan, I can tell you that if you allow Prescott to just sit back there with time then he will pick you a part.
Outside of 4th down stop on the Cowboy’s first possession, Dugger’s interception, and their goalline stand at the end of the first half, the Patriots defense was a no show.
Just embarrassing really.
Play(s) of the Game
The Bomb by Jones
See CeeDee Run, See CeeDee Score
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