Last week, here's what I had to say about this game from afar.
If the Pats secondary doesn’t show up, this could get ugly fast. But if Devin McCourty, Jalen Mills, and company are able to step up and lock down Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the playing field evens out.
Oh, how naïve this was. Did I really think the Pats secondary could hold up?
The New England Patriots outcoached, out-smarted, and - to a degree - out-performed the Dallas Cowboys at home. But ultimately, the more talented team won Sunday's shootout in Foxboro.
FINAL SCORE: Cowboys 35, Patriots 29 (OT)
PIC: Steven Senne, AP
The Dallas Cowboys are a peculiar case; they currently have one of the best RB's in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, and the frontrunning candidate for Comeback Player of the Year in Dak Prescott. Many believed the Cowboys were able to put most of the season on cruise control after its first two weeks, but it cannot be discounted that those games included a 31-29 loss at reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay and a win against the renewed-life LA Chargers. Simply put, Dallas is one of the most talented offensive teams in the NFL; its receiving core features the midseason-form Amari Cooper and youthful standout CeeDee Lamb, coupled with a solid tight-end in Blake Jarwin. Ultimately, they proved to be too much of a thorn in the side of the Pats' discombobulated defense.
Make no mistake; the Pats got every call they needed to, they got every break, and it seemed as though everything worked their way. But when push came to shove, the Pats were simply not talented enough to stop a high-octane Cowboys offense from driving down the field and making the plays when they needed to.
Some of it came down to skill & the personnel on the field, but some was left up to coaching decisions. Either way, while there were some flashes of success for this Pats team, they didn't perform well enough to win.
Let's dive into some thoughts from this weekend in Foxboro.
The offense was not putting the right drives together. The Pats started off this game firing on all cylinders. Their first two drives finished in the end zone, and only took a total of 7 offensive plays to do it. While Mac Jones certainly looked like he showed up to play, the credit certainly belongs to running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, who were able to carve apart the Dallas front-four and find the end zone a couple of times to start things off in the right direction.
After that, though, was an extremely tough sequence of events. The Pats compiled a stretch of four straight drives in which they conceded a 3-and-out, spanning across two quarters. If not for a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones (after Trevon Diggs pick-sixed the rookie QB), this game could have taken a nasty turn.
Today's nasty stat to bring this point home:
- Pats average drive in 2nd half: 3.8 plays
- Pats average drive in 2nd half, removing a 13-play drive in 4th quarter that resulted in a TD: 2.33 plays
I'm not really sure what the answer is, but one thing is for sure: the Pats need to compile some more productive drives, and stop going three-and-out. Expecting a 1-play, 75-yard touchdown on every single play is simply not sustainable.
The defense was INCREDIBLY porous. Let's start with a question. Outside of Matthew Judon, who is your guy that'll make a play to save the game? One thing is for sure; if Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Devin McCourty are the 3 other best players on the defensive side of the field...that ain't gonna cut it.
The Patriots were absolutely dismal on defense; to continue the trend of drive-length, they forced one single three-and-out against Dallas' offense.
COWBOYS DRIVES: 7, 7, 14, 9, 6, 3, 10, 9, 9, 9
The answer seems to be simply acquiring or developing more defensive talent, but this defensive unit needs a wake-up call to be successful.
For the love of God, stop with the touchdown-revoking penalties. James Ferentz! You were lucky enough to have the PRIVILEGE of being the cover athlete of our Week 5 recap. And now, he takes away this touchdown from Jakobi Meyers - it would've been his first career receiving TD. STOP TAKING POINTS OFF THE BOARD.
UP NEXT: This is a team that has 4 home losses. Every single one of them was within reach, so now it's time to take out all the frustration on "Da God Damn Jets." Take care of business, then prepare for a tough Chargers team in Week 8.