Patriots 13, Cowboys 9

The Cowboys vs Patriots: Good, bad and ugly

Tim Warner/Getty Images

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.






Friday the 13th. Triskaidekophobes' worst nightmare. It's silliness. Like believing in the Texans as Super Bowl contenders.

So how did the Texans go from toppling the 10-1 Patriots one Sunday, to having the 4-8 Broncos humiliate them the next? That is what mediocrity is all about, Houston Texans style. Imagine how ugly it would have gotten had the Broncos not had to deal with the intimidation factor of playing under a closed roof on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. There was a surprising number of no shows for an 8-4 home team off of two quality wins. Coincidence? Certainly not entirely. Ticket holders who opted to stay away joined essentially the entire team in no-showing.

With their record 8-5 the odds still favor the Texans making the playoffs. Winning two of the remaining three games does the job (and secures other one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners!). Of course, the odds favored the Texans not trailing 31-3 at home at halftime to a Broncos' team that hadn't scored more than 24 points in any game all season. Winning one to finish 9-7 could mean a Wild Card. Yippee!

They are only three point underdogs at Tennessee Sunday. If the Texans' feeble pass rush can't pick it up the Texans' D figures to be D-stroyed again. Ryan Tannehill's career revival with the Titans has been astounding. What reasonable person would have believed that entering this game Tannehill would be playing better quarterback than Deshaun Watson over the last month? Defending Derrick Henry's power running is a big problem, and that has made Tannehill devastating in the play action passing game. Good chance the Texans will need to score more than 28 points to win. They last did so eight games ago in their 31-24 victory at Kansas City. The Titans look like the better team right now, but week to week in the NFL who knows.

As I put it on the radio show earlier this week, in an either or scenario which would you prefer: the Texans do win their division, maybe win a wild card weekend home game, and if they do then take a shot at not getting crushed at Baltimore again. OR…the Texans lose twice to the Titans, lose in Tampa, tumbling from 8-4 to an 8-8 playoff miss and Cal McNair decides to fire Bill O'Brien?

Tough spell for Astros

Given that Oakland wasn't a possibility, Gerrit Cole picking the Yankees is the Astros' worst case scenario. If you're thinking nine years 324 million dollars is nuts, of course nine years is crazy long, but the Yankees are a money printing machine. Forbes magazine estimate for 2018 had the Yankees generating roughly 300 million dollars more in revenue than did the Astros.

Another bottom line: with Cole the Yankees are markedly better, without him the Astros are markedly worse.

The Astros are in a payroll bind, hence the trade Carlos Correa rumblings. In isolation, trading Correa would be dumb. Yes he has proven brittle. But Correa is also super-talented, 25 years old, and for two more years in Major League Baseball terms, dirt cheap. Trade Correa for what? A desperate play to escape the 13 million dollar anvil that is Josh Reddick's 2020 contract? Offered for nothing in return the Astros have no takers for Reddick. As a must take in a Correa deal, Reddick would drive down the return the Astros could get.

The Astros would be seeking a cheap, multi-years team-controlled stud young starting pitcher for Correa. They're not getting one for him. Guys like the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, the Braves Mike Siroka, the Indians Shane Bieber, those teams wouldn't swap their guy for Correa straight up. They'd laugh at an Astro offer of Correa and Reddick. Reds' starter Luis Castillo's name has been thrown against the wall. He's had one really good full big league season. At 27 years old, Castillo isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021. Why would the Reds trade him for Correa who can walk as a free agent after the 2021 season? Mets starter Noah Syndegaard? Probably not available, and he can become a free agent the same time as Correa.

It's always easy to burn someone else's money, but the Astros' best play is keeping Correa and swallowing the Reddick 13 mil if necessary, rather than taking 70 cents on the dollar back in a trade. Jim Crane and his partners can make back any loss in profit margin during this Astros' window of excellence by cutting costs when the next rebuilding time comes around and/or by selling the team down the line for several times the 610 million dollars they paid to buy it.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you can get a ticket, UH-Oklahoma St. at Fertitta Center is the place to be Sunday afternoon. 2. The NBA has captivated very few around here so far this season, but the relentlessness of James Harden's scoring pace (37.6 points per game) is stupefying. 3. Absurd actual phobias: Bronze-Somniphobia, fear of sleep Silver-Cherophobia, fear of happiness Gold-Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth


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