Bad coaching was just too much for the New England Patriots to overcome on Sunday.
After jumping out to an early lead over the Dallas Cowboys, conservative decision making and play calling from New England’s coaching staff seemed to hold the team back from building on any sort of positive momentum they were able to garner. Despite that, the Patriots pushed Dallas into overtime following a wild series of plays. That is when the offense —out of tricks to move the ball effectively— stalled out, and the defense —exhausted from having played 76 plays to that point— fizzled away.
In the end, the Patriots are now 2-4. They’ve started out 0-4 at home for the first time since 1993, and now they get to prepare for a floundering Jets team who they’ve already beaten this year. The time for moral victories has passed, the Patriots need to get things moving.
Final Score (OT): Patriots (2-4) 29 : 35 Cowboys (5-1)
October 17, 4:25p.m. ET | Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA | Broadcast information
Patriots Inactives: CB Joejuan Williams, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Devin Asiasi, OLB Ronnie Perkins, RG Shaq Mason, CB Shaun Wade
Cowboys Inactives: QB Will Grier, S Israel Mukuwamu, WR Simi Fehoko, DE Bradlee Anae, DE Dorance Armstrong
The Patriots inactives list is pretty much the same as last week at first glance. The only difference is Joejuan Williams being a healthy scratch following his struggles against Houston last week, and the return of Jalen Mills to the Patriots secondary. After being removed from the COVID list this week, both Michael Onwenu and Isaiah Wynn are active. Wynn has not practiced in two weeks.
The Cowboys will have all of their stars available. Ezekiel Elliott, Trevon Diggs, and Randy Gregory are all active despite being listed as questionable.
The Patriots won the coin toss and chose to defer. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will start on offense.
Tony Pollard started the game off with a good return of Jake Bailey’s opening kickoff, but an illegal double team block pushed the Cowboys back to their own 12-yard line to start the day. Dallas picked up an easy first down right away on a quick slant to CeeDee Lamb, but a holding penalty set them back behind the chains early on their next set of downs. They were forced into a 4th-and-1 situation at their own 34-yard line, where Matthew Judon and Dont’a Hightower stuffed an Ezekiel Elliott run to turn the ball over on downs. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy challenged the spot, but the decision was upheld and New England was given the ball at Dallas’ 34-yard line.
Damien Harris started off New England’s first drive with a 21-yard run. Following a 9-yard pass to Jonnu Smith, he took over in the wildcat and punched the ball into the end zone from 4-yards out. Nick Folk’s PAT was good. [Patriots 7 : 0 Cowboys]
Dallas started their next drive from the 25-yard line, picking up another quick first down to CeeDee Lamb on a play action pass. They got another one on a lucky tip that ended up in tight end Dalton Schultz’s hands, moving them into Patriots territory. The kept it in the air, moving the ball with ease and eventually finding the end zone on a touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to Blake Jarwin. The drive lasted 3:37 with Prescott going 6-for-6. [Patriots 7 : 7 Cowboys]
New England’s next drive looked even better. A pair of Rhamondre Stevenson receptions pushed New England into Cowboys territory, where Trevon Diggs would give them another free 15-yards on an unnecessary roughness penalty. On the next play, Jones connected with his favorite target Hunter Henry for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Back and forth they go. [Patriots 14 : 7 Cowboys]
For the third straight drive, Dallas picked up a first down on their very first play. On the next play they were called for another first down holding penalty, pushing them behind the chains, and eventually, once again forcing them into a 4th-and-1 situation. This time, Elliott was able to convert and keep their drive alive. On the very next play, Dallas was called for yet another penalty, nullifying a long passing play and pushing them behind the chains once again. Jonathan Jones was slow to get up on the play, and left the field with help from the medical staff. The Cowboys easily picked up another pair of first downs that led them to the New England 30-yard line and ended the quarter. Dak Prescott ended the first quarter with 161 passing yards.
A pair of Ezekiel Elliott runs helped get Dallas into the red zone, where Kyle Dugger would intercept a Dak Prescott pas in the end zone and run it out to the 25-yard line. A desperately needed big play for the Patriots secondary.
Justin Bethel, who came in for the injured Jonathan Jones, was in coverage on the Dugger pick.
The Patriots ensuing drive started with another gift, when Dallas was called for a horse collar tackle, moving them to their own 40-yard line. A short Damien Harris run set up a 27-yard pass to Nelson Agholor. On the next set of downs James Ferentz was called for a holding penalty to force New England into a 2nd-and-17 situation, where Randy Gregory buried Mac Jones, forcing a fumble in which Dallas would recover and take over around mid field.
Dallas once again moved the ball with ease on their next drive by picking up 36-yards on five plays, but once again, they had a penalty push them behind the sticks. This time it was a false start that set them up with a 1st-and-15 from New Englands 16-yard line. That allowed the Patriots to force them into another 3rd-and-long, where Jonathan Jones returned and made a huge pass breakup in the end zone on Cedric Wilson. Dallas kicked the field goal to cut New England’s lead to four. [Patriots 14 : 10 Cowboys]
Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu entered the game on New England’s next drive, replacing Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste at both tackle spots. They were not able to help much as the Patriot’s wound up going three-and-out, choosing to punt on a questionable spot. The Cowboys blocked Jake Bailey’s punt and took over at the New England 17-yard line.
The Cowboys were able to move the ball down to New England’s one-yard line, converting on a 3rd-and-long. On their fourth chance to punch the ball into the end zone from that spot, Dak Prescott seemingly got into the end zone to take the lead. After further review, it was shown that Ja’Whaun Bentley forced a fumble before Prescott crossed the goal line. New England took over at their own 20-yard line with 1:30 remaining in the half, but kneeled out the clock to send the game to halftime. [HALFTIME - Patriots 14 : 10 Cowboys]
New England opened up the second half with the football. On 3rd-and-2, they chose to throw the ball but Mac Jones was quickly sacked. They went three-and-out and punted it away to Dallas.
Dallas’ next possession started with a Kyle Dugger run stuff and Ja’Whaun Bentley tackle in coverage. That set the Cowboys up with a 3rd-and-9, where J.C. Jackson broke up a pass intended for CeeDee Lamb. The young starters for New England showed up big on that drive. Bryan Anger punted it away to Gunner Olszewski who returned it to mid-field, giving New England great field position.
Justin Herron came back into the game to replace Isaiah Wynn after Wynn gave up the third down sack to end their previous drive. Before New England could get started, Olszewski took back five of those punt return yards with a false start penalty. Following a pair of positive Rhamondre Stevenson gains, New England handed the ball off to Brandon Bolden on 3rd-and-1 who was stuffed. They punted it back to Dallas.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys took over from their own nine-yard line, before being pushed back to the 4-yard line on an ineligible lineman downfield penalty. On 1st-and-14, Prescott hit Ezekiel Elliott on a crosser to gain the first down. Two plays later, Noah Brown caught the ball on a broken play and gained 27-yards to move Dallas into Patriots territory. Dalton Schultz moved them into the extended red zone on another 20+ yard gain for the Dallas offense. Ja’Whaun Bentley stayed down following the Schultz play, which led to the return of Jamie Collins to the Patriots defensive lineup. Following a pass interference penalty on J.C. Jackson in the end zone, the Cowboys were set up at New Englands one-yard line and converted on a fade to CeeDee Lamb for the touchdown. [Patriots 14 : 17 Cowboys]
New England took over at its own 25-yard line on their next drive. Damien Harris picked up a first down on two straight rushes, before the offense stalled back out when Jones missed Jakobi Meyers for a first down. Jake Bailey punted it away to Cedrick Wilson who fumbled it but was able to jump back on it to retain possession for Dallas.
Back at their own 12-yard line, the Cowboys offense continued to pick up early first downs that gave them room to work. This time it was back to back passes that went to Lamb and Elliott, moving them back passed their own 40-yard line. Dallas had another penalty that set them up behind the chains before letting the clock run out on the third quarter.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Dak Prescott was given more than enough time to deliver a 33-yard strike to CeeDee Lamb. The Patriots defense bowed up from there, forcing three straight incompletions. Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein lined up to kick one from 45-yards out and nailed it. [Patriots 14 : 20 Cowboys]
The Cowboys gifted New England some more yardage before their next drive, being flagged for having too many men on the field. On 1st-and-5, Jones hit Jakobi Meyers for 11-yards, picking up the first down. Following a 2-yard gain by Stevenson, Jones was forced to burn a timeout due to a personnel issue. That left the Patriots with just one for the remainder of the game. Jones hit Brandon Bolden for a first down, moving the offense into Dallas territory. That is when New England’s offense got things rolling, with a strike to Jakobi Meyers and five hand offs to their running backs. Damien Harris got them 36-yards before coming off with an injury, that paved the way for Rhamondre Stevenson to punch it in from one-yard out. Nick Folk hit the point after to give New England the lead. [Patriots 21 : 20 Cowboys]
Dallas started their next drive at their own 27-yard line with 6:18 left on the clock. A first down run to Ezekiel Elliot went for 21-yards to quickly move them close to mid-field. They then converted on a 3rd-and-short to move into New England territory. Another Dallas penalty on the following second down pushed them over the 100-yard mark on the day. It brought up a 2nd-and-12 where J.C. Jackson forced an incompletion and brought up the biggest play of the day. On 3rd-and-12, Josh Uche chased Dak Prescott from behind to keep him just one-yard short of the sticks. Greg Zeurlein came on for a 51-yard field goal that he sailed to the left. New England took over with 2:42 remaining.
With 200 less yards of offense than Dallas, Mac Jones and the Patriots offense took over with a chance to seal it. On their second play, Mac Jones missed Kendrick Bourne, who tipped the ball straight into the arms of NFL interception leader Trevon Diggs, who returned it for a touchdown to give Dallas the lead. [Patriots 21 : 26 Cowboys]
Following a few words of wisdom from his head coach Bill Belichick, Mac Jones came back onto the field hoping to avenge his bad play from moments before. He started with the ball at his own 25-yard line with 2:21 left in the game. One play later, he gave the Patriots the lead, hitting Kendrick Bourne on a double move that beat Trevon Diggs for a 75-yard touchdown. New England went for two, where Jakobi Meyers boxed out Anthony Brown to get the conversion. [Patriots 29 : 26 Cowboys]
It was Dak Prescott’s turn to try and win the game on a fourth quarter drive, coming on at the 29-yard line with 2:05 remaining in the game. An incompletion and short passes to Elliott and Cooper set Dallas up with a 4th-and-4 that could have effectively decided the game, but Prescott made a perfect pass to Cedrick Wilson to pick up the first down. Another first down pass to Dalton Schultz put them in field goal range. They continued to push the ball to try and get Zeurlein in better range, but Cowboys guard Connor Williams was called for two penalties, including a personal foul, that pushed Dallas all the way back to their own 35-yard line. Then Dak Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb for 34-yards to put Zeurlein in position for a 49-yard field goal with 0:24 remaining in the game. He drilled it to tie the game. [Patriots 29 : 29 Cowboys]
Mac Jones and the Patriots came back out with 0:20 remaining. They ran it with Damien Harris, and eventually chose to run out the remaining clock to send this game to overtime.
The Patriots won the OT coin toss, electing to receive the ball and try to end it.
The Patriots came out throwing, where Mac Jones hit Nelson Agholor right in the hands, but it was dropped. On the very next play he threw it in front of Jakobi Meyers who dove and made a great catch for the first down. Ying and yang. Two straight Damien Harris runs set New England up with a 3rd-and-3, where Mac Jones missed Agholor, who was grabbed by the facemask, along the sideline. no call, the Patriots punt it away.
Dallas started with the ball at their own 21-yard line, picking up another early first down on a broken play from Prescott to Lamb. They picked up another pair of first downs to move into field goal range. That didn’t matter, as on the final play of the game, Dak Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb for a 35-yard touchdown to win it. [FINAL - Patriots 29 : 35 Cowboys]