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In case you couldn't tell by the score, the story of the much-hyped matchup at Gillette on Sunday was, in a shocking turn of events, very much a defensive one.
The Patriots led the surprisingly low scoring game 13-10 at the half, but had just allowed Romo to lead his team 93 yards on 11 plays for a one yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten. It was the Cowboys' best offensive series of the game, and Witten's first reception of the game.
But until that point, the Patriots defense had stifled the Cowboys offense, keeping them under 100 total yards and forcing two turnovers; one a Kyle Arrington interception and one a Gerard Warren fumble recovery. Before the last drive it was certainly the best defensive showing the Patriots had made all season. Unfortunately Dallas was playing similarly on the other side of the ball, matching the Patriots takeaways with a Terence Newman interception on a tipped pass from Brady and a recovery of a Matthew Slater special teams fumble on a punt return.
For most of the first half it was the Patriots defense that kept them from falling behind, as Brady and his offense struggled to find rhythm. They twice had to settle for Stephen Gostkowski field goals before Brady finally found Welker for a 5 yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter.
New England started the second half with the ball, but it was anything but productive. The ugly showing by the home team started with a punt from their own 32 yard line after a few incomplete Brady passes and a second DeMarcus Ware sack. Romo proceeded to drive his offense 77 yards down the field, and although a big Andre Carter sack took away 11 yards and prevented the touchdown, Dallas tied it up 13-13 on a field goal from Dan Bailey.
The Patriots next possession in the quarter was sloppy at best. Brady failed to convert on a third down pass to Hernandez in Dallas territory and they were forced to punt, but caught a major break with a running into the kicker penalty after Anthony Spencer ran into Zoltan Mesko after his punt. Brady completely two first downs on their way into the red zone, but the second was fumbled by Hernandez and recovered by Newman for the Patriots third turnover of the day.
Yet miraculously, after the defense successfully stifled another Cowboys possession at the start of the fourth quarter, the light of hope still shined dimly upon the abysmal Pats offense. The game was still tied at 13-13. A fabulous 3rd and 9 patented Tom Brady conversion to Deion Branch looked like it might be the catalyst for a fourth quarter touchdown drive. Soon after though, as he was chased and hurried out of the pocket, Brady lobbed a ridiculous pass right into the hands of Dallas linebacker Sean Lee.
(Side note: somewhere in there, Chad Ochocinco ran the wrong route... again. The sight of the ball soaring into the empty space where he should have been has become a disgustingly familiar sight for Patriots fans.)
The Cowboys once again got themselves to Patriots territory but couldn't reach the end zone. After an easy Bailey 26 yard field goal, they were up 16-13. The Patriots with what looked like their final chance had got the ball back with just over five minutes on the clock, and went three and out. Their hope-light now dimmed to a barely visible glimmer, they punted it off to the away team with 3:36 to go.
But in perhaps the most notable 54 seconds of their 2011 season, the Patriots defense stepped up big. Dallas' first two conversion attempts combined for a 3 yard loss, and an 8 yard run by Tashard Choice wasn't enough for the first down.
The Patriots got the ball back one more time, drove 80 yards in 2:09, and scored on a perfectly placed Tom Brady touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez. The final :22 was not enough for the Cowboys, and the Patriots' were able to steal the game.
Check in tomorrow to read more about the game and the new things we learned from this match up and about the Patriots as they head into their bye week.
Tom Brady completed 8/9 passes for 80 yards and an eight yard touchdown pass to Aaron Herandez with 22 seconds remaining to rally his New England Patriots to a 20-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots offense struggled mightily throughout the evening against Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme. The Cowboys were able to pressure Brady repeatedly, sacking him three times and forcing four turnovers (two interceptions).
Overall, Brady finished 27/41 for 289 yards to go along with his two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Rob Gronkowski was the leading receiver in the game, hauling in seven passes for 74 yards.
The Patriots defense deserves just as much credit as Tom Brady does after holding the Cowboys to just three points in the fourth quarter despite consecutive Patriots turnovers that could have turned into touchdowns. Overall the four Patriots turnovers resulted in just six Cowboys points.
Patriots beat writer Tanya Fox will have a full recap with news and stats shortly.
Tom Brady drove the Patriots 80 yards in the final 2:30 and hit Aaron Hernandez for an 8 yard touchdown to retake the lead at 20-16.
10 plays, 80 yards, 2:09
The Dallas Cowboys took advantage of the New England Patriots second consecutive turnover by driving the ball into the redzone and settling for their third field goal of the game. The Cowboys now lead the game 16-13, mid-way through the fourth quarter.
9 plays, 60 yards, 3:55
Tony Romo led a drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, their second of at least 5 minutes, and were able to convert the game tying field goal, the only scoring of the third quarter.
The New England Patriots were unable to really move the ball until the very of the quarter when they marched down the field, aided by a running into the kicker penalty, but Aaron Hernandez was stripped inside the Dallas Cowboys redzone and the Cowboys recovered. It was the third turnover of the game for the Patriots, and just the first fumble of the season by the Pats offense.
The Cowboys have been led on offense by the increasingly strong play by Tony Romo. Romo struggled throughout long stretches of the first half, but picked up his play late in the second quarter and has begun to find open receivers with regularity in the second half.
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys opened the second half with a strong drive that got them deep into the redzone before an Andre Carter sack forced them to settle for a short field goal. The game is now tied at 13.
12 plays, 77 yards, 5:58
Each team struggled with turnovers and penalties through the first quarter and a half, but the offenses got untracked late in the half, with each team moving the ball down the field effectively in the final seven minutes of the half.
The game was expected to be an offensive showcase, but Tony Romo opened the game with an interception on the team’s first possession to set up a 31 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. The Cowboys defense was able to stop the Patriots potent offense inside the 10 yard line.
The Cowboys would get even just a few minutes later when Tom Brady’s pass intended for Deion Branch was tipped and intercepted by Terrence Newman. The turnover led to a 48 yard field goal for the Cowboys to tie the game.
After a pair of turnovers on the ensuing possessions (a fumble by Matthew Slater and a fumble by Tashard Choice), the Patriots marched into the redzone again. A holding penalty on Nate Solder forced the Pats outside the Cowboys 10 yard line and the team settled for a short field goal again.
After some strong defensive play, the Patriots offense finally started to show some flashes of the brilliance that they’ve played with all year. Brady drove the team 69 yards in 9 lightning quick plays, capped off by a four yard pass to Wes Welker who, upon further review, just squeaked the ball over the goal line to give the team a 13-3 lead.
Faced with the prospect of the game getting away from them, the Cowboys went on a brilliant 11 play, 93 yard drive that encompassed nearly all of the remaining eight minutes of the half, before Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for a two yard touchdown pass. The catch was Witten’s first of the game. The drive was highlighted by the Dez Bryant show as he caught two passes for 58 yards on the drive.
Tom Brady: 10/14 138 yards, 1 TD 1 INT
Stevan Ridley: 3 carries, 19 yards
Deion Branch: 2 catches, 57 yards
Tony Romo: 13/19 138 yards, 1 TD 1 INT
DeMarco Murray: 5 carries, 24 yards
Dez Bryant: 4 catches, 78 yards
Just as the game looked like it might start to get away from them, the Dallas Cowboys answered the New England Patriots drive with a nice one of their own, capped off by a two yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten from Tony Romo just after the two minute warning.
11 plays, 93 yards, 7:01
With his last touchdown pass to Wes Welker, he has just passed Vinny Testaverde for eighth all time in touchdown passes. Brady has also now thrown for a touchdown pass in 22 straight games.
Tom Brady led the New England Patriots down the field for their first touchdown drive of the game to extend their lead to 13-3. The drive was highlighted by a pair of passes to Aaron Hernandez and another to Rob Gronkowski before Brady hit Wes Welker for a 4 yard touchdown pass.
9 plays, 69 yards, 3:03
Tom Brady completed a big pass to Deion Branch who took it and ran for 45 yards, the biggest completion of the game. A holding call on Nate Solder took the Pats out of the redzone though and they were forced to settle for a field goal for the second time to take a 6-3 lead.
11 plays, 72 yards, 3:56
Each team committed a pair of turnovers and converted them into field goals, and the game is tied at three after one quarter from Gillette Stadium between the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.
On the opening possession of the game, Tony Romo threw off his back foot while under pressure from Brandon Spikes and the pass landed in the arms of Kyle Arrington. The Patriots moved the ball inside the 10 yard line but were unable to punch it in, settling for a 31 yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
After forcing a punt, the Patriots got the ball back deep in their own end of the field, but Tom Brady’s pass, intended for Deion Branch, was tipped and intercepted by Terrence Newman. The Cowboys had an opportunity to score a touchdown following a pass interference call in the end zone against Devin McCourty, but a holding call on the same play cancelled it out and the Cowboys settled for a 48 yard field goal to tie the game.
The two teams then traded fumbles, one by the Patriots Matthew Slater and one by the Cowboys Tashard Choice before the end of the quarter.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman picked off Tom Brady, but the Cowboys were unable to move the ball and settled for a 48 yard field goal to tie the game at 3.
4 plays, -7 yards, 1:31
After moving the ball out to mid-field on their opening possession, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw an interception into the arms of Kyle Arrington. The Pats offense stalled in the red zone though and they settled for a 31 yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
9 plays, 34 yards, 3:22
Today, the New England Patriots will battle the Dallas Cowboys in a potential Super Bowl preview at Gillette Stadium. The game marks the first meeting between the two iconic franchises since 2007 and the first in Foxborough since 2003.
If you’re unable to see or hear the game today, we’ve got you covered! We’ll have in-game scoring, news and injury updates for you as they happen! So make sure to follow along with us for all the action today.
Also, make sure to check out our associate editor @DShookSBN and contributor @TanyaRay18 on twitter for live game analysis throughout today’s action!
Kick-off is set for 4:15 p.m. and can be seen on FOX or heard on the radio at 98.5 “The Sports Hub”. The Patriots come into today’s game with a record of 4-1, while the Cowboys are at 2-2 and are coming off their bye week after losing a wild affair against the Detroit Lions two weeks ago.
QB Stephen McGee
PK David Buehler
FB Tony Fiammetta
G David Arkin
G Derrick Dockery
DE Clifton Geathers
DE Jason Hatcher.
S Josh Barrett
S Sergio Brown
CB Ras-I Dowling
WR Julian Edelman
QB Ryan Mallett
LB Jerod Mayo
RT Sebastian Vollmer.
and the face and the at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon.
Event:- NFL Regular Season, Week 6.
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2011 - 4:15 p.m. EDT.
Location: Gillette Stadium (Capacity: 68,756), Foxborough, MA.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's game between the Patriots and Raiders will be aired on FOX (Channel 25), Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman calling all of the action.
In addition, the game can be heard on WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub, the flagship station of the Patriots. The lengendary duo of Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti will serve as the broadcast team. The game can also be heard on SIRIUS Radio, Channel 86.
Last Week: New York Jets after a bitter playoff loss in January. Brady threw for 321 yards, but it was Benjarvus Green-Ellis who made the difference, running for 136 yards and two touchdowns as the Pats grounded the Jets 30-21.and the Patriots gained a measure of revenge on the
The Cowboys are coming off their bye week as they try and recover from a devastating loss to the Detroit Lions back on October 2nd. The Cowboys blew a 27-3 lead in that game, being outscored 31-3 in the final 25 minutes. Romo had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half.
Players To Watch: For the Patriots, the player(s) to watch will be the linebackers, particularly Jerod Mayo. One of Tony Romo's favorite weapons is tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys will work hard to get Witten into single coverage against a linebacker, and if they struggle to contain him, it could be a long day. Mayo didn't play in last weeks win over the Jets, so his health and ability to cover Witten will be tested.
For the Cowboys, linebacker DeMarcus Ware is the player to watch. He's been a terror on the edge this season, already accounting for five sacks in four games. Tom Brady and the Patriots offensive line will need to identify where he is on every snap in order to contain him. Ware will also be counted on to help stuff the run and defend the Pats stud tight end combination of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Storyline: Both of these teams had eyes on making the Super Bowl this season, and while that's certainly still a possibility for both sides, it's clear that each has a great deal of work to do to get there. The Patriots shaky defense will be tested against Tony Romo and the Cowboys high flying offense while Tom Brady and the Pats big-time offense has won a staggering 19 straight regular season games at Gillette Stadium. Something will have to give.
Game Preview: Check out Tanya Fox's Five Keys to the Game.
Prediction: The Patriots defense made some progress last week against the sub-par Jets offense, but this is a whole different animal. The first team that can string together a couple of good defensive series might win the game. It could go either way, but the Pats are awfully tough at home. Final Score: Patriots 38 Cowboys 34
This week Tom Brady and the Patriots have their work cut out for them in a home game against the Tony Romo-led Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots are 4-1 as they head into week six of the 2011 season, and the Cowboys are 2-2, coming off extra rest from their bye in week five.
Despite the fact that it's been nearly two decades since the Dallas Cowboys have been a relevant threat in the NFL, it still always seems sort of big-time when the blue star comes to town. They are hyped and controversial, and perhaps the most unpredictable team in the league right now.
This matchup has given New England fans a certain uneasiness; and rightfully so. It seems that there is always a 50% chance that Tony Romo could have the game of his life with his top two receivers in the game against the worst pass defense in the league. He certainly has the arm and firepower to throw down some major offense on the Patriots, who have the worst overall defense in the league.
But then again, the meager New England defense is among the NFL's best at forcing and capitalizing on turnovers, most especially against mistake-prone quarterbacks with shaky decision making skills in the red zone.
Going through the process of trying to predict this game is a rollercoaster of what-ifs. After a lot of thought, it can be narrowed down most simply into the following possible game trajectories:
Possible game trajectory number one: Tony Romo and his receivers have a disaster of a game trying to get back on track after the bye week and numerous injury issues, Kyle Arrington and Pat Chung each have a pick and Andre Carter forces another turnover on a strip sack. This leads to a touchdown and two field goals on the recovered possessions, and the Patriots beat the Cowboys handily 35-21.
Possible game trajectory number two: The Cowboys' excellent rushing defense combined with Romo-Jason Witten-Miles Austin-Dez Bryant effectiveness on their offense gives the Patriots a difficult time. The game turns into a Romo vs. Brady shootout, and since Brady is the better and more effective quarterback with the best receiver in the league and more dependable second through fifth options, he survives the ineptness of his secondary and the Patriots win 35-31.
It seems absurd to try to pinpoint the way that this game could play out, with so many variables. So let's take a look at the top five factors in this game, and why the Patriots will win:
1. DeMarcus Ware and pressure on Tom Brady
As one of the NFL's elite pass rushers, Ware has five sacks on the season so far (averaging 1.25 a game) and definitely puts fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. The biggest thing here as that the Patriots offensive line has to protect Brady from injury, so can they protect him from the sack? Yes, they can. Can they prevent him from being rushed, hurried and under pressure in the pocket for most of the game? Maybe.
But maybe not. This pass rush will look similar to the one that stifled Tom Brady in Oakland with Richard Seymour. Seymour would have had the Patriots offensive line's number had he not gone around roughing the passer and grabbing facemasks like it was the last game he'd ever play in. Additionally, linebacker Sean Lee has had a solid year for the Cowboys as well. But if the offensive line can hold him off long enough for Brady to develop an early rhythm, they do have a chance to win this battle.
2. The Cowboys' rushing defense
The Cowboys currently have the best defense against the rush in the league, having allowed just 247 totally yards on the ground. But they have also only played four games. This might explain why their two wins came against teams with shaky passing games: the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers. But with the Patriots, they have bigger fish to fry.
Even if they do manage to stifle the rush, they are up against the best passing offense in the league. But the Pats have also snuck up the rankings with the 6th best rushing offense in the league as well. Their one-two punch of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and solid rookie Stevan Ridley, along with help in the shotgun from Danny Woodhead (who is questionable for Sunday's game) has proven to be extremely effective over the past three games. Last week against the Jets the Patriots rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns in their most balanced offensive attack of the season. Dallas has also not faced the most formidable of running games to begin with, with their toughest challenge coming in week two against Frank Gore and the 10th ranked San Francisco rush. They've also played the Redskins (18th), the Lions (23rd) and the Jets (28th).
3. Turnover ratio
You always have a better chance to win when your team wins the turnover battle. Currently the Patriots are at a +3, which is deceivingly low due to Tom Brady's abomination in Buffalo in which he threw four interceptions. The Cowboys are unsurprisingly at -4, having given up 10 balls to their 6 takeaways. Last year the Patriots young defense survived on capitalizing on turnover opportunities and protecting the ball on offense. Although the secondary doesn't currently feature a playmaker that can really pressure the receivers, they are still smart players that can take advantage of missed routes and quarterback mistakes. And Tony Romo is guaranteed to make a mistake, it's just a matter of the Patriots exploiting it. With both Miles Austin and Dez Bryant (both probable for the game) coming back rusty from injury and a week off, the secondary might have a better chance to hinder them than they would if both of the star Dallas receivers were 100%.
4. Wes Welker
This one pretty much speaks for itself. Double cover him and you've left Rob Gronkowski and/or Aaron Hernandez and/or Deion Branch open somewhere. Cover him man to man and you'll lose that battle all game. And play him in a zone and he could take it to the house with one little juke move. Good luck with that one, Dallas.
5. Home field advantage
Patriots still don't lose at home in the regular season. Dallas has not played in New England since November 2003, in a weird 12-0 game that the Patriots won. The lingering mystique of hosting the Cowboys at Gillette will likely have the crowd roaring and ready to go, especially considering it should be perfect football weather tomorrow; sunny and 60 degrees. Yeah, the weather. I went there. But come on, indulge me a little...Tom Brady in Foxboro in perfect cool fall sunshine? Just saying.
My prediction: The Patriots defense struggles early but eventually comes up with the big plays, and Brady throws for three touchdowns. Patriots - 35 Cowboys - 21
New England safety Josh Barrett will miss Sunday's game against the Cowboys with a hamstring injury, the Patriots announced in their Friday injury report. The safety has logged 13 tackles in four games so far this season.
In happier New England football news, linebacker Jerod Mayo made his return to practice Friday, not two weeks after spraining his MCL against Oakland. Though it was originally thought he would miss four to six weeks, Mayo is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis also practiced after missing Thursday with a toe ailment and is similarly listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
Other questionable Patriots include: cornerback Leigh Bodden (thumb), safety Sergio Brown (chest), cornerback Ras-I Dowling (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (ankle), defensive end Albert Haynesworth (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Love (back), wide receiver Matt Slater (ribs), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) and running back Danny Woodhead (ankle).
After lighting up the Jets to the tune of two touchdowns on 136 yards this past Sunday, Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis missed practice Thursday due to a toe ailment.
In case you missed it earlier today, the Pats placed defensive lineman Mike Wright on the injured reserve Thursday due to a concussion. It marked the fourth time in seven seasons he will end the year on the IR. Safety Josh Barrett (thumb, hamstring), linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork also missed practice, but Wilfork’s absence was not injury-related.
A handful of nicked-up Patriots had limited participation in the practice: Cornerback Leigh Bodden (thumb), safety Sergio Brown (chest), cornerback Ras-I Dowling (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (ankle), defensive end Albert Haynesworth (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Love (back), wide receiver Matt Slater (ribs), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) and running back Danny Woodhead (ankle).
Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright will miss the remainder of the season with a concussion he sustained Week 1 against the Dolphins. It is the fourth time in seven years he has ended the season on the injured reserve list.
Jerod Mayo was one of three Patriots not participating during the media portion of practice, according to an ESPN Boston report. Danny Woodhead did return to the field after missing the New York Jets game.
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