Patriots 13, Cowboys 9

The Cowboys vs Patriots: Good, bad and ugly

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A rainy, windy, cold day at Gillette Stadium was the perfect setting for arguably the worst game of the year in the NFL. Neither the Cowboys nor the Patriots could get their high-powered offenses moving through the slop. Ultimately it was the Patriots who left victorious, leaving the Cowboys with their heads down and a long flight back to Dallas.

The Good

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Cowboys on Sunday. Their defense played up to the level of competition and for the most part effectively shut down the Patriots. The defensive line did their job and were able to get into Tom Brady's face on multiple occasions. Both Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins were continuously getting pressure on Brady and each recorded one sack. Brady finished 17-37 for 190 yards and a subpar QBR of 38.2. The defense did its best to render the Patriots running backs inefficient after the first quarter.

The one shining star of the Cowboys offense was Ezekiel Elliot. Although he did not have his typical 100 plus yard rushing game as we are accustomed to seeing, he singlehandedly carried the Cowboys and helped them set up their only three scoring plays. 86 yards rushing and 40 receiving yards might not be boast worthy numbers, but he was the sole bright spot in an otherwise ineffective Cowboys offense.

Jeff Heath did not leave a game early due to an injury for the second time in four games. He looked healthy and had a massive hit on Patriots receiver Jakobi Myers. Sean Lee also played well filling in for the injured Leighton Vander Esh. He recorded five tackles and two of them were tackles for loss.

The bad

If Brady's 38.2 QBR was bad, then Dak Prescott's 15.3 QBR is downright awful. He finished the game going 19/33 for 212 yards. Not bad numbers per say, but more than a quarter of those yards came from a 59-yard pass to Randell Cobb. I'm not going to blame him entirely for this loss, but he certainly didn't help the Cowboys much the entire game. He was inefficient in his game management, constantly missed receivers, and never looked confident at any point of the game. Combine that with the Patriots corner backs locking down Amari Cooper all game and you have a recipe for an offensive disaster for the Cowboys.

Others who could be blamed for the offensive inefficiencies are both Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore. The weather was a definite factor for why the passing game wasn't efficient, but both Garrett and Moore should have come up with some better plays other than their predictable run, run pass options. The Cowboys were 2-13 on third downs and never seemed to have a plan other than for Dak to throw to either Jason Witten or Blake Jarwin on 3rd down for minimal yardage.

Speaking of Jason Witten, he is starting to show his age on the field more so than ever. He made only one catch on five attempts for five yards. Three of those passes were dropped balls that hit him directly in the hands. The surefire safety blanket for the Cowboys looks like he is losing his luster, and may soon have his positon usurped by Jarwin.

The ugly

I have mentioned this earlier, but I cannot talk about this game without referencing the weather. From kickoff, you could tell this was going to be a low scoring affair, with both teams relying heavily on the run game. This weather affected both Prescott and Brady negatively, and neither could get an offensive rhythm going. This game is cause for why all NFL stadiums should have a retractable roof. Bad weather ruins great matchups.

A blocked punt ended up being the deciding factor of the game. On 4th and 12 the Cowboys punted the ball from their own 25 yard-line and it was blocked and recovered by the Patriots at about the Cowboys 13 yard-line. This set up the only touchdown of the game by either team. Tom Brady threw a touchdown to a tightly covered N'Keal Harry for his first touchdown of his NFL career.

This game ended similarly to the infamous Dez Bryant playoff game in Green Bay. On 4th and 11, Prescott threw a deep ball to Amari Cooper who could have set up the Cowboys close to the 50 yard-line as the 4th quarter was coming to a close. Unfortunately, Cooper could not retain this catch and the ball fell out on the way down. This insured that Amari Cooper was held without a catch for the first time all season. The miss also caused a turnover on downs and the Patriots almost ran out the clock. The Cowboys did get the ball back with one second left, but Prescott threw a 12-yard pass to Michael Gallup to end the game.

Although their defense played admirably, the Cowboys offense could not get any kind of momentum going as the Patriots barely beat them. However, the Cowboys still sit alone atop the NFC East with the Eagles loosing as well to the Seahawks. Next the Cowboys have a short week before they host the 8-3 Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. If the Cowboys offense doesn't step up on Thursday, it will be the Bills enjoying the festive holiday and not the Cowboys.






NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship

NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship good, bad and ugly

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The NFL Conference Championship Weekend is their Final Four. You don't get the games played in the same place, but there is a buzz in both stadiums because each team knows theyarethisclose to a Super Bowl. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the real deal. We gawk at his arm strength and ability to make throws in spaces and from angles that'll challenge physics. But his athleticism and escapability are underrated. Prime example was his 27-yard touchdown run right before halftime. Not only did he evade the rush and scramble to the outside, but he tightroped along the sideline, cut back inside, then carried a couple defenders across the goalline. He led the Chiefs in rushing yards with 56.

-49ers running back Raheem Mostert has played on five different teams in his five year career. In his second stint with the 49ers, he's turned himself into an valuable piece of that offense. Although they use a stable of backs, it was Mostert who set a new team postseason rushing record with 196 yards and there was still almost 20 minutes of football left to play!

-We will have a great matchup of coaches in the Super Bowl. Head Coaches/Playcallers: Chiefs' Andy Reid vs 49er's Kyle Shanahan; defensive coordinators: Chiefs' Steve Spagnuolo vs 49er's Robert Saleh. The meeting of the minds with two weeks to prepare should give us a good game. Key word: should. Please guys, no blowouts.

The Bad

-Derrick Henry was dubbed "King Henry" after his recent rushing performances. He was unceremoniously removed from his throne by the Chiefs' defense. 69 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown with a long run of 13 backed up the tough talk from Chiefs' defensive end Frank Clark who said earlier in the week leading up to the game that Henry wasn't hard to tackle.

-Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked a little off. He missed a few key throws, including an interception that ended any hope they had of coming back because it led to the 49ers having a short field and going up by four scores instead of the Packers being down by two scores. It was a minute before halftime, but the way the 49ers were running the ball, that pick was a backbreaker.

-The NFL fined Chiefs' offensive lineman Eric Fisher $14,037 for an unsportsmanlike conduct for his double-fist beer touchdown celebration during last week's win over the Texans. I thought they turned the corner when they started allowing more touchdown celebrations. So let me get this straight: you can choreograph a dance routine with the whole team, but can't pretend to chug beer from a league sponsor? Talk about hypocrisy.

The Ugly

-With the score 28-17 Chiefs with 7:44 left in the game, 3rd&6 on the Chiefs' 40-yard line. Titans' corner Tramaine Brock Sr. fell down and was called for a holding penalty on Sammy Watkins as he was falling. The worst part of that play: Watkins broke open and Mahomes found him for a 60-yard touchdown. Later when they were down by 11 with 3:59 left, Brock was called for a 41-yard pass interference on 3rd&10 with the Chiefs on their own 19-yard line. Those plays sealed the deal for the Titans.

-49ers running back Tevin Coleman was carted off the field in the 2nd quarter with an injury to his right elbow. An arm injury must be pretty damn bad if you're carted off. Thoughts and prayers to the running back I thought the Texans should've signed. Major props to him wanting to come back to the sidelines to be with his teammates wearing a sling.

-The 49ers outrushed the Packers 185 to 51...IN THE FIRST HALF! They were up 27-0 and had "only" passed for 40 yards. That's all they needed since the Packers couldn't stop the run. Mind you, they ran the ball 22 times to get the 185 yards. Packers defense looked like wet brown grocery bags trying to hold two gallons of milk.

And then there were two. Through all the strife and struggle, we have our Super Bowl 54 will be a matchup of arguably the best on their respective sides of the ball: 49ers and their defense vs the Chiefs high octane offense. However, don't sleep on the 49ers' ability to score, or how well the Chiefs' defense has been playing as of late. Ultimately, I have the sads. We only have one meaningful football game left. Hopefully the 49ers and Chiefs give us something to talk about. I won't mind seeing a 24-21 or 31-27 game. As long as we don't get a multiple score blowout, I'm good. Props to the Titans and Packers for putting up a good fight. It just wasn't good enough. From 32 to two. And there will only be one.

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