The Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots played an intense, low-scoring game under what’s known as “football weather” as rained poured down on them all game long and wind kept blowing. It ended up being a very disappointing loss for the Cowboys as special teams and decision making ended up being the biggest factors on the road against a Bill Belichick-led team.
The Patriots would take the lead in the first quarter with the only touchdown to be scored on the game after Matthew Slater – one of the best special team players in the history of the NFL – blocked Chris Jones’ punt. Rookie WR N’keal Harry scored his first TD of his career a few moments later and gave New England a lead they’d never give back.
Early in the second quarter, the Cowboys would once again set the Patriots up for a score. Travis Frederick snapped the ball high, Dak Prescott threw a bad pass and Stephon Gilmore made one hell of a dive for the interception. A big-time three-and-out from the Cowboys defense forced Nick Folk to kick the field goal and put the game 10-0.
On fourth and two, the Cowboys decided not to be aggressive (stay tuned for more of that later in the game) and play it safe for the three points. Brett Maher, however, missed the long field goal in the tough weather.
The Cowboys offense couldn’t get it going in the opponents’ territory despite Ezekiel Elliott running for 86 yards and racking up 40 in the passing game. A few opportunities came up as they closed in 10-6 at halftime.
The most important decision in a very defensive game came until there were 6:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Patriots had scored only three more points and still held the lead 13-6. On fourth and seven from New England’s 11 yard-line, the Cowboys decided to kick a field goal. Maher split the uprights and the score was 13-9…
According to The Athletic’s Joe Goodberry, the Cowboys chances of winning the game went from 13% to 19% with that field goal. Sure enough, Dallas had the ball later in the game (still needing the same thing as before, a touchdown).
On third and one, a controversial tripping penalty cost them ten yards and two plays later, the game was over. Not before an impressive throw from Dak Prescott and what would’ve been an even more impressive catch from Amari Cooper. But after reviewing the play, it was clear the ball had hit the ground. Ballgame.
- Amari Cooper is a very good wide receiver, but CB Stephon Gilmore put him on an island. Cooper ended his day with zero catches. Whether that was on Cooper, Prescott or play-calling will likely be cleared up once we grind the tape.
- Defense came up big in plenty of important situations. The most important one was probably the third quarter opening drive. The Patriots had a chance to make it a two-possession game and put the game out of reach, but the Cowboys’ defense kept playing well coming out of the locker room.
- You gotta love that big hit from Jeff Heath on Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers. Heath was apparently injured before that play and still delivered the big-time blow in crunch time.
- Jerry Jones’ comments were intense. “Special teams is totally a reflection of coaching.” He’s right. The Cowboys’ special teams were insanely bad in New England and cost the Cowboys big time.
- About that tripping penalty. If you read the definition, you can slightly understand why it was called. But was it enough to let that flag define the outcome of the game? I believe not.