The New England Patriots walked off the field on Sunday, knowing they had their chance to defeat a Dallas Cowboys team that is among the best in the NFL in 2021.
Unfortunately, time is running thin for them to rest on the laurels of moral victories.
The Pats had some great moments on both sides of the ball, including some key defensive stops and a gutsy fourth-quarter performance by rookie quarterback Mac Jones. In the end, missed opportunities, questionable coaching decisions and their opponents’ ability to make plays when most needed was the difference in Week Six.
Jones would throw for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Damien Harris would add 101 yard rushing on 18 carries for a touchdown of his own. However, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott would outduel the Pats young quarterback, passing for 445 yards, with one interception and three touchdowns; the most important of which coming on a 35-yard connection with receiver CeeDee Lamb in overtime to give Dallas a 35-29 victory over the Pats, dropping New England to 2-4 on the 2021 season.
First Half Highlights:
The Patriots struck first in Week Six. Following consecutive impressive run stuffs by their defense on third and fourth downs, the Pats would take over on downs from Dallas 34-yard line. Harris began New England’s run to the end zone with a 21-yard rush up the middle. Jones would follow the run with a 9-yard smoke to Jonnu Smith, showing the tight end’s athleticism. Harris would complete the drive
Patriots 7, Cowboys 0
The Cowboys would quickly answer the Patriots first scoring drive, with one of their own. Quarterback Dak Prescott led Dallas on a seven-play, 75-yard drive for the score. The Pats had a takeaway on a Prescott pass to the short left to tight end Dalton Schultz. The pass deflected off the hands of Cowboys’ wide receiver Cedric Wilson, just out of the reach of Pats’ linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. Four plays later, Prescott found tight end Blake Jarwin for the short-yardage touchdown.
Cowboys 7, Patriots 7
New England was determined to keep the score tied for as little time as possible. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson notched an impressive pair of runs to quickly take the Pats into Dallas territory. Helped by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Cowboys’ corner Trevon Diggs, Jones completed a deep pass to tight end Hunter Henry for a 20-yard touchdown.
Patriots 14, Cowboys 7
On their next position, the Pats looked poised to take a commanding 21-7 lead. Jones had found receiver Jakobi Meyers for 25 yards and what would have been his first NfL touchdown reception. However, the score would be nullified by a holding penalty against lineman James Ferentz. On the ensuing play, Jones was sacked by defensive end Randy Gregory, who also stripped the Pats quarterback of the ball. Gregory recovered and Prescott would lead the Cowboys 40 yards on nine plays. Dallas looked to have the game-tying touchdown on a third down pass from Prescott to Cedric Wilson. Yet, the ball was broken up by cornerback Jonathan Jones. Cowboys’ kicker Greg Zuerlein connected on a 30 yard field goal, to cut the Patriots lead to four.
Patriots 14, Cowboys 10
As the Pats attempted to punt the ball back to the Cowboys, punter Jake Bailey was blocked on the attempt for the second time this season. Dallas’ linebacker Luke Gifford easily got through to get his hands on the ball to recover deep in New England territory. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai seemed to break down on punt protection, allowing Gifford to block the punt. Still, Dallas would be unable to capitalize. The Pats held a formidable goal-line stand, keeping Dallas from breaking the plane. On fourth-and-one, Prescott lost control of the ball as he attempted to score over the top of New England’s defenders. Bentley was able to knock the ball loose, which was recovered by Kyle Van Noy. New England would take control of the football, bringing a four point lead into halftime.
At the half… Patriots 14, Cowboys 10
Second Half Highlights:
Dallas found the end zone first in the second half, almost two-thirds of the way through the third quarter. Prescott led the Cowboys on an eight-play, 91-yard drive, utilizing the skills of tight end Dalton Schultz, as well as running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. J.C. Jackson committed a costly pass interference penalty, giving Dallas the ball at the one yard line. Prescott found receiver CeeDee Lamb for the short-yard strike and the Cowboys took the lead.
Cowboys 17, Patriots 14
The Cowboys added to their lead to begin the fourth quarter. Dallas put together a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a Prescott pass to Lamb for 33-yards, the longest play of the day for either team, to that point. The Pats, however, would make some key plays on defense to keep Dallas from putting six on the board. Zuerlein connected on a 45-yard field goal, as the Cowboys took a six-point lead.
Cowboys 20, Patriots 14
New England was not about to go gentle into that good autumn night in Foxboro. The Pats would get to the end zone by traveling 75 yards on 13 plays. Their most successful pass play came from 11-personnel, on which Mac Jones hit Jakobi Meyers on third and nine. Damien Harris broke for a tenacious 21-yard run to get the Patriots deep into Dallas territory. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, still reeling from a breakdown in pass protection earlier in the quarter, rebounded with a one-yard touchdown run to put the home team back on top.
Patriots 21, Cowboys 20
Following a missed 51-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, the Patriots seemed to have a chance to put the game away. However, Cowboys’ cornerback Trevon Diggs was bound to make his presence felt, and he did. Diggs put himself in perfect position to snag a Jones pass that was just beyond the reach of receiver Kendrick Bourne. Diggs would run the pick-six back 42 yards. Though Prescott’s two-point attempt to Tony Pollard failed, the Cowboys had taken the lead.
Cowboys 26, Patriots 20
Though many rookies would be irreparably despondent after throwing a backbreaking pick six, Jones would not be denied retribution. The rookie once again sought Bourne in the open field. This time, the two would connect on a 75-yard touchdown, beating Diggs on a double move. Jones would also find Meyers for the two-point conversion. The Pats would lead by three with just over two minutes to play in regulation.
Patriots 29, Cowboys 26
Still, the craziness in Foxboro on Sunday seemed destined to continue. Sure enough, it did. Prescott and the Cowboys would outlast the clock, as well as a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, to find their way into field goal range. CeeDee Lamb beat Pats’ cornerback Jalen Mills for a crucial 24-yard gain. Zuerlein would connect on a 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 29.
End of Regulation: Patriots 29, Cowboys 29
In Overtime, it would be the visitors who would light the scoreboard for the final time. New England, possessing the ball first (having won the coin toss) had a chance to build momentum (and perhaps more) on a pass from Jones to Nelson Agholor, who dropped the ball with a lot of open space in front of him. The Pats would be forced to punt the ball back to Dallas, who would make the most of their only possession. Prescott led the Cowboys 80 yards on seven plays, culminating in a 35 yard touchdown pass to Lamb, who once again beat Jalen Mills in coverage.
FINAL: Cowboys 35, Patriots 29
Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley left the game in the second half with an injury to his ribs and was officially listed as ‘questionable’ to return by the team. Defensive lineman Christian Barmore also left the game with a shoulder injury. He too was questionable to return.
Linebacker Chase Winovich (hamstring) was downgraded to doubtful, after exiting the game in the second half.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (elbow), safety Adrian Phillips and cornerback Jonathan Jones (ribs) all left the game at various points. All three players returned to action.
The Patriots remain home, in Foxboro, as they welcome the New York Jets for the second of two meetings between the division rivals on Sunday, October 24, at 1:00pm ET at Gillette Stadium. The Pats defeated the 25-6 Jets in Week Two of the 2021 season, on September 19, at MetLIfe Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.