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.






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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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