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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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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