By Calvin Watkins
7:34 PM on Nov 24, 2019
FOXBORO, Mass. – In a rainy, windy and cold day at Gillette Stadium, the Cowboys defense finally responded to its own standards of high-level play. Too bad the offense couldn’t match it. While the weather had something to do with it, this was still an ugly loss.
New England defeated Dallas, 13-9, on Sunday afternoon to continue a season-long trend of the Cowboys failing to beat a team with a winning record.
There were controversial bad tripping calls, one on left tackle Tyron Smith and one on center Travis Frederick, the last of which negated a first-down reception when the Cowboys were trying to drive for the winning score. Both calls were questionable, and the Cowboys most likely will be sending the replays of those plays to the NFL office.
With that, here are five takeaways from Cowboys-Patriots:
A wet ball, a wet field and gloves
The bad weather forced quarterback Dak Prescott to play with gloves on both hands and kept the offense from passing the ball with any efficiency. For the game, Prescott completed 19 of 33 passes for 212 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Prescott also was victimized by two Jason Witten drops and a second-half holding pernalty on Tyron Smith that also negated a first-down play. Prescott has played well the entire season, but you can’t fault him too much for how the offense performed.
Defense slows down Tom Brady
Maybe Tom Brady is really 42 and not playing like he’s 32. The rain and the wind affected both quarterbacks, but Brady struggled the most. He was high on some throws, and despite a clean pocket on several other attempts he just wasn’t himself. At one point in the first half, Brady was 2 for 5 for 15 yards with a touchdown and an 87.5 quarterback rating. Brady finished 17 for 37 for 190 yards with one touchdown. Cowboys defensive end Robert Quinn missed Brady numerous times for sacks, though he picked up a strip sack in the second quarter. The Cowboys linebackers and safeties also kept the Patriots running backs from getting the ball. Brady loves throwing to his backs on screens and swing passes but that wasn’t the case on a consistent basis Sunday. The Patriots didn’t throw a pass to their running backs until the fourth quarter.
What happened to Amari Cooper?
Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper was targeted just once in the first half and it resulted in an interception. He did make a 13-yard reception in the second half but it was wiped out by a holding call on Tyron Smith. Cooper was shut down by the Patriots best corner, Stephon Gilmore. It’s a rare occurrence to see a cornerback take Cooper out of the game, but on this rainy afternoon, he disappeared. Officially, Cooper finished with zero catches on two targets.
Go for it? Kick the field goal?
The Cowboys were faced with a third and 7 from the Patriots’ 11 with about six minutes left. Dak Prescott was incomplete on a throw to Blake Jarwin in the back of the end zone. Instead of going for it, the Cowboys attempted a field goal of 29 yards. Brett Maher made it, and the Cowboys trailed 13-9 with 6:04 left. Should the Cowboys have gone for it? Maybe if the down and distance were fourth and 3, but it seemed like the smart move here. The Cowboys defense was holding the Patriots defense for a majority of the day, and with three timeouts in his pocket Jason Garrett made the right decision as the Patriots drove to the Patriots’ 41 before they were forced to punt with 2:48 left.
Special teams issues
There was a significant change on special teams, with Randall Cobb returning punts instead of Tavon Austin. Yet, Austin was back to field a punt in the fourth quarter, and he allowed it to bounce over his head for a touchback. Dallas also had a punt blocked for the first time this season in the first half when Matthew Slater slipped through some blocks to reach a Chris Jones attempt. Tony Pollard misplayed another kickoff, forcing the Cowboys to start their drive at their 11.