The Dallas Cowboys have had a tough start to the NFL season, yes, they won the first two and looked strong to top their division but since then they have lost Bryant, Romo and two games; this comes after losing Murray in the off season leaving their terrific trio of attack decimated. They are now having to rally and surely they are over the worst right? Wrong, the Superbowl champions New England Patriots were in town on Sunday, a team the Cowboys have not beaten since 1996.
And it really didn’t start well, a three and out for the Cowboys and the Patriots first play was a 21-yard play with a fifteen yard penalty added on for unnecessary roughness. Though two break-ups from Sean Lee and a sack from McClain took New England out of field goal range to save early blushes. The first quarter ended 3-3 with three sacks, two on Brady. Both defences clearly had the measure early on with both teams failing to create a strong pocket to give their quarterback time to find a throw. Both adjusted with Brady handing off to the running backs in six of eleven plays and Weeden throwing short after two mid-distance attempts early proved difficult.
The second quarter saw another three sacks on Brady. Greg Hardy, after his suspension and a tough week in the media, showed why the Cowboys defence is going to be high in the rankings this season, not allowing Brady any time to think. England born Jack Crawford with a sack too. The Cowboys offence on the other hand registered their fifth three-and-out. The Patriots started the next drive from their own 45 and a poorly timed defensive penalty and a missed tackle on Dion Lewis was finished off with a quarterback sneak touchdown from one yard. Followed by a 57-yard field goal ended the half at 13-3 to the Patriots.
You would be forgiven for thinking Gronkowski didn’t play the first half as he only made one catch. But the first drive of the second half was completely different making a 33-yard catch and run and another catch in a drive that Dion Lewis ended with the second touchdown of the game, 20-3. The next Cowboys possession saw their best drive of the game, including Witten’s first catch of the day and an incredible catch from Street to keep alive the drive. It still only ended in a field goal to make it a two score game.
Edelman scored for New England early in the fourth to effectively end the game. Witten fumbled and Weeden threw an interception to pile further misery to the Cowboys offense, and the Patriots scored another field goal to make the score look even worse at 30-6.
The Cowboys now head into a bye week with three straight losses and a lot of thinking to do. The defence looks strong at times but that is now three weeks running they have faded in the second half to ultimately lose them the game. It is probably harsh to blame all of these defeats on one thing but the defence is definitely not the main problem: the offense doesn’t have a plan-B when they get sussed out, which they have been in the second half of the last three games, or all day today. Weeden couldn’t even find an open pass to Williams from six yards late in the fourth quarter. They are obviously downbeat about the players they have lost but they need to move on and someone, preferably Weeden, needs to step up and drive this team forward before it is too late.