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Week 12 Patriots vs Cowboys recap: Defense comes up big again as New England wins with a 13-9 final score

The Patriots’ 11th regular season game is in the books!

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

While the game — like the weather in Foxborough — was not necessarily pretty, the New England Patriots were able to add another win and improve to 10-1 on the year: the reigning world champions hosted the Dallas Cowboys in a defensively dominated contest that ended with the home team registering a 13-9 victory.

With that being said, let’s recap the action.

Patriots (10-1) 13 : 9 Cowboys (6-5)

First quarter

The Patriots won the coin toss and kicked off, starting the game on defense. After just three plays — including a pass-breakup by Jonathan Jones on third down — the unit was able to leave the field again, as the Cowboys were forced to punt the football away. New England faired a bit better on offense and gained two first downs on the ground, but ultimately also saw its series stall after a short run and two incomplete passes.

Dallas opened the next series better: after a pass interference call against J.C. Jackson, two big plays to running back Ezekiel Elliott brought the team into New England territory for the first time. However, the series eventually stalled and the Cowboys came away without points after a 46-yard field goal attempt by Brett Maher bounced off the left upright. The Patriots were unable to capitalize despite a 17-yard run by Sony Michel to open the drive, and had to settle for another punt after Tom Brady was sacked on third down.

New England’s defense, on the other hand, continued to put pressure on the Cowboys and forced another punt — one that did not travel far: special teams standout Matthew Slater was able to get a hand on the kick, and Nate Ebner recovered it to give the offense the football at the Dallas 12-yard line:

The Patriots quickly took advantage of the block, and just two plays later found the end zone to take their first lead of the day: On 2nd and 8, Brady and wide receiver N’Keal Harry connected on a perfectly executed back-shoulder throw in the end zone that saw the first-round rookie show tremendous body control to stay in bounds. [Patriots 7 : 0 Cowboys]

Second quarter

Momentum continued to stay with the home team on its next series, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore was able to intercept a Dak Prescott pass attempt intended for Amari Cooper:

While the Patriots were unable to turn this big play into a touchdown, they were able to increase their lead: after failing to get a first down, Nick Folk was money from 44 yards out to increase New England’s lead to 10 points. [Patriots 10 : 0 Cowboys]

Following a kickoff handled by Folk instead of punter Jake Bailey, the Cowboys produced a solid series by taking to the ground: Dallas ran the football on the first seven plays of the drive, gaining a combined 42 yards before an incomplete pass on third down. This time, however, the Cowboys were able to get onto the scoreboard as Maher split the uprights from 46 yards away. [Patriots 10 : 3 Cowboys]

New England answered in style, and gained a quick 32 yards on its first offensive play after the field goal thanks to a Jakobi Meyers catch-and-run. But even though the team ended up driving into field goal range, it did not add to its lead: Nick Folk missed his first kick in a Patriots uniform when his 46-yard attempt sailed wide to the right — a false start penalty against Danny Shelton certainly did not help the in-season addition, though.

The Cowboys had more success kicking the football on their ensuing possession. After driving 55 yards in nine plays — including a third down conversion by Ezekiel Elliott and a late hit penalty against Deatrich Wise Jr. — Maher made his second field goal of the day to bring his team within four points. [Patriots 10 : 6 Cowboys]

With 2:28 left in the first half, the Patriots were in a position to add to their lead. It certainly looked like it early on: New England was able to drive into Cowboys territory — in part because of a 23-yard catch by Meyers to convert a 3rd and 9 — but ultimately came up empty again. The team sent Nick Folk onto the field to attempt a 48-yard try as time expired, and the kick also sailed wide to the right.

Third quarter

The Patriots ended their first drive of the second half just like their last drive of the first: without points. Even though the team opened the series at its own 36-yard line, it ultimately had to send Jake Bailey onto the field after just three plays to kick the football away again. Luckily for New England, its defense did a better job coming out of the locker room and also forced a punt after just three plays.

Tom Brady and company looked better on their next possession, but again failed to string enough positive plays together to march down the field before punting the football away. Dallas, meanwhile, had another three-and-out with Jonathan Jones making a terrific open field tackle to stop the team from converting on a short pass on 3rd and 3.

The Patriots replied with a three-and-out of their own — one that saw Brady deliver a perfect pass down the seam to Jakobi Meyers but the rookie being unable to hold onto the football for a third down conversion — followed by another Cowboys drive that ended with a punt.

Fourth quarter

That last Cowboys punt gave New England some good starting field position, and the Patriots were able to string together their best drive of the second half. And even though it was not capped by the game’s second touchdown, it did increase the distance between the two teams: Nick Folk’s second field goal of the day — this one from 42 yards out — put the Patriots up by seven. [Patriots 13 : 6 Cowboys]

Down seven in the early fourth period, the Cowboys were able to answer the Patriots’ field goal with a scoring drive of their own. Thanks in part due to a 52-yard catch and run by Randall Cobb, the visitors moved into field goal range quickly and ultimately came within four points thanks to Brett Maher’s third successful kick of the day. [Patriots 13 : 9 Cowboys]

Despite the field goal, the Patriots were in a position to potentially ice the game on their next series but they couldn’t: even though the team drove into the Dallas side of the field, it had to punt again. New England was able to use three-and-a-half minutes, however, which gave the Cowboys only 2:38 to work with and 92 yards of field between them and a lead-changing touchdown.

Dallas moved the football well early on in the drive, but the series stalled on a fourth down pass intended for Amari Cooper. While the play was initially ruled a catch and conversion,