On a miserable afternoon for football, it turned out to be just a little less awful for New England.
On a cold and rainy November day, the Patriots’ defense smothered the Cowboys, holding Dallas out of the end zone all afternoon on the way to a 13-9 win at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady went 17-for-36 for 190 yards and a touchdown, while Julian Edelman added eight catches for 93 yards and Sony Michel had 19 carries for 89 yards.
But again, as has been the case for most of the season, it was the New England defense that came up big when it counted. The Patriots intercepted Dak Prescott once, held the Cowboys to 2-for-13 on third down, and snuffed out a late Dallas drive to improve to 10-1 on the season.
After a blocked punt from Matthew Slater set up the New England offense with terrific field position, the Patriots took the lead for good at the end of the first quarter when Brady hit N’Keal Harry on a 10-yard scoring strike to make it 7-0.
After Stephon Gilmore picked off Prescott, Nick Folk added a 44-yarder to make it 10-0 early in the second. Dallas responded with a pair of field goals of their own from Brett Maher to cut the lead to 10-6 at the half. It stayed that way until the fourth, when the two teams traded field goals to make it 13-9 heading into the late stages of regulation.
A final drive from Dallas came up short, and the Patriots were able to grind it out at the end to come away with the win.
7:29 p.m.: That does it -- 13-9.
7:11 p.m.: Patriots are going to put the game in the hands of their defense again. There’s 2:38 to go in regulation, and New England holds a 13-9 lead.
7:09 p.m.: Welcome to the “(Blank) it, I’m throwing to Edelman” part of the game. The Patriots are moving the ball again -- can’t leave points on the field here.
7:05 p.m.: The Cowboys consider their options on fourth down and settle for the 29-yard field goal, making it 13-9 with just over six minutes to go in regulation. That was a really good answer for Dallas, which got a big play to set things up. This one is going to come down to the last few minutes.
6:55 p.m.: A mildly productive drive for the Patriots, one that ends with a field goal to make it 13-6 roughly midway through the fourth quarter. You never know -- there could be a freak play -- but if you’re New England, that sort of breathing room could very well be enough. The offense has beern wildly underwhelming, but 13 really could do it. The defense will likely have to make at least two more stops, but if the first three-plus quarters are any indication, the group could be up to the task.
6:43 p.m.: Three quarters are in the books in Foxborough, and New England holds a 10-6 lead. If the Patriots get one more score here, the way their defense has been playing and with how tough this weather has been, you have to like their chances. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Michel: 12 carries, 60 yards
Brady: 10/24, 135 yards, 1 TD
Edelman: 6 catches, 65 yards
Both teams are a combined 4-for-21 on third down.
6:39 p.m.: No one has reached the end zone since the Brady to Harry touchdown pass at the end of the first quarter. With this weather and these two defenses, are we going to see another touchdown scored tonight? I’m not so sure.
6:22 p.m.: Seen a lot of this over the last few games. Defense has held an opponent (mostly) in check, while the offense has struggled. You can pin some of that on the fact Brady is without Sanu and Dorsett and Wynn is back in the lineup after being out and the brutal weather. But the offense just hasn’t been able to put together a really consistent scoring drive all afternoon. It’ll be up to the defense to keep the Cowboys in single digits, and anything else you get when it comes to points (at least from the offense) will be gravy. But New England just needs some sort of offensive jolt -- it’s 10-6 with 8:41 to go in the third quarter.
6:14 p.m.: The Patriots have allowed one touchdown in the last six-plus quarters. That’s a good thing, because the offense has struggled to find any real consistency. New England is up 10-6 with 12:09 left in the third quarter.
6:07 p.m.: Battle of field position here in the second half -- would have been nice if Bailey could have laid that punt up short of the end zone. Dallas gets the ball here for the first time in the second half -- New England is up 10-6 with 13:09 left in the third. (One Twitter follower raises an excellent point -- other than that failed third-down pass play, we haven’t seen a lot of James White, at least as much as we usually have in the past. Odd.)
5:55 p.m.: The Pats are up 10-6 at the half. A few thoughts:
The New England defense has been tremendous. I mean, Zeke is a beast, with 61 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving. But he’s crushed good defenses all year long. If the Pats can hold the rest of the Dallas offense in check, they should be good the rest of the way. New England has done well to bottle up the rest of the Cowboys’ skill position guys, only allowing a brief burst here and there.
If I had to guess, I think we might see some no-huddle from the New England offense in the second half. They used it to get unstuck in the second half of their last two games, and it could help them out this time around. The Pats are leaving points on the field, and I’m not talking about the two missed field goals. But the weather is really dictating things. The truth of the matter is that it might be first team to 20. The rain and wind is going to make it tougher and tougher for both teams as things go on.
Ultimately, this is looking like a Rohrschach test of a game -- people will take out of it what they want to take out of it: The offense is awful! The defense is great! Lather! Rinse! Repeat!
Brady 7-for-16 for 102 yards and one TD
Sony Michel: 10 carries, 54 yards
Meyers: 2 catches, 55 yards
Gilmore: 1 INT
5:49 p.m.: A really weird end-of-half drive there for the Patriots, who struggled to move the ball until that nice third-down catch by Meyers -- the first successful third-down conversion of the afternoon for New England. Some good pass protection to that point broke down and almost got the quarterback killed, but the Pats made their way into field-goal range. Folk was then off-the-mark on the 48-yard field goal attempt into the win. It’s 10-6 at the half.
5:36 p.m.: Nice red-zone stop for the Patriots’ defense. Not their finest hour -- that penalty on Wise was tough, and Dallas had its first successful third-down picked up of the afternoon -- but holding them to three as oppposed to seven is palatable. It’s 10-6 with 2:28 left in the first half. New England now hoping for that halftime wraparounds sciore here to take command. We shall see what happens.
Brady: 4-for-11, 67 yards, 1 TD
Michel: 9 carries, 49 yards
Harry: 1 catch, 10 yards, 1 TD
5:29 p.m.: One of the first things I taught my son when it came to football was that third down was where you make your money. Well, this afternoon, everyone is pretty much bankrupt. The Pats are 0-for-4 on third down, and Dallas is 0-for-5 on third down. The missed field goal from Folk -- a 46-yarder into the wind -- means it’s still 10-3 New England with 6:46 to go in the first half.
5:21 p.m.: Dallas is now 0-for-5 on third down, but the Cowboys manage to get on the board when Maher delivers a 46-yarder to make it 10-3 with 8:36 left in the first half. The Patriots’ defense has shown a few soft spots -- Zeke has 49 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards -- but as a whole, it’s been a good quarter-plus for them. New England will get the ball back here, and it’s worth reminding readers the Pats get the ball to start the second half.
5:12 p.m.: Nick Folk has kicked really well over the last couple of weeks, and we just saw another example -- a few minutes after Dallas missed a 40something yarder into the wind, Folk delivered a 44-yarder to make it 10-0 with 12:46 left in the first half. Good couple of weeks for the new guy. The Patriots have all 10 points off turnovers. Key sequence looming here for the Cowboys -- will they panic and try and get out of their comfort zone? Or do they try and stick with what they are best at? Will be interesting to see how they respond. On the other side of the ball, Brady is 2-for-5 for 15 yards and a touchdown, while Sony Michel has 9 carries for 49 yards.
5:07 p.m.: Love the feistiness of the last couple defensive stands for New England, especially with Gilmore’s pick there. Super aggressive, making plays all over the field. Patriots’ offense is set up nicely for a second time. New England is starting to roll here.
4:58 p.m.: Big sequence there for the Patriots. A masterful blocked punt by Matthew Slater, followed up by the first touchdown catch of N’Keal Harry’s NFL career. New England is up 7-0 with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
That was the Patriots' fifth punt from their own 40 yard line or closer in the last two games. Three have come in opponent's territory— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2019
4:52 p.m.: The Patriots offense has had two drives start promisingly on the ground, but have stalled out on both occasions. Feels like they need something to get unstuck--wonder if we’ll see some uptempo like the last two games.
4:44 p.m.: For a scoreless game, there’s been a lot of action, topped off by the missed 46-yarder just now from Dallas kicker Brett Maher that means we’re still at 0-0 roughly halfway through the first quarter. Before than, Jamie Collins had a terrific chase down of Dak Prescott, who escaped the pocket and looked like he was bound for a first down, only to be hauled down from behind by Collins. A dynamite play. With this weather, if you bet the under, you’re probably feeling pretty good about your chances.
4:34 p.m.: Terrific start for the New England offense (two carries for 19 yards for Sony Michel), and then, the group stalled out with a drop from Meyers and a misfire from Brady. The Patriots punt the ball away. It’s scoreless with 11:21 to go in the first quarter. After the Cowboys went three-and-out on their first possession, Dallas will get the ball back here for a second crack.
4:32 p.m.: Patriots defensive starters: Guy, Shelton, Simon, Van Noy, Hightower, Collins, Gilmore, Jackson, Chung, Harmon, D. McCourty
Offensive starters: Brady, Michel, Edelman, Harry, Meyers, Watson, Wynn, Thuney, Karras, Mason, Cannon
4:25 p.m.: Patriots win the toss and will defer. TIME FOR THE FOOSBALL.
4:12 p.m.: All right, time for a final prediction. I like New England in this one for a few reasons, including the fact the Cowboys have lost four straight on the road against teams over .500. I have zero faith that when the rubber hits the road, this Dallas team is capable of getting it done. The Patriots have to control the tempo and manage the flow of the game to keep the Cowboys’ offense off the field for long stretches, and at least some of that will come down to whether or not they run the ball consistently. If they can’t, I figure the Pats will use short passes to the likes of White and Burkhead to try and move the ball. (Also some no-huddle as needed.) Regardless, New England is going to win this thing. It won’t be an easy one and we could all be back here in a week wondering about the state of the offense, but it should be enough to beat Dallas. I’m saying Patriots 23, Cowboys 14.
4:04 p.m.: A few miscellaneous notes: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are on the mic for Fox this afternoon. New England is 3-1 since the start of the 2017 season with them in the booth. And Scott Novak will serve as referee. The longtime side judge is in his first season as a ref--this will be the first-ever New England game as lead official.
Patriots have Isaiah Wynn back at LT in warmups, but Marshall Newhouse is at RT. No sign of Marcus Cannon, who missed Friday's practice with an illness— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2019
3:45 p.m.: Latest weather updates have temps between the low 40s and high 30s, with a fairly steady chance of rain for the next few hours. The Patriots are a pretty good all-weather team, but these sorts of conditions will test even the most mentally tough group, and make ball security even more important than usual.
3:40 p.m.: With the weather, this could get interesting:
Rex Burkhead, Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry are fielding punts during warmups. With Gunner Olszewski now on IR and Mohamed Sanu not playing, the Patriots need a new punt returner.— Nora Princiotti (@NoraPrinciotti) November 24, 2019
James White, Brandon Bolden and Sony Michel are fielding kickoffs.
3:35 p.m.: From a gambling perspective, this one opened at 6.5, and has vacillated between 6 and 7 over the course of the week. Every time I start to think the Cowboys are a team that should be truly feared, I remember they lost to the Jets. I mean, New England is scratching the bottom of the depth chart when it comes to the wide receiver position, but Dallas is just not that dependable a team, especially away from home against a plus-.500 team. I could see a narrow cover on the part of the Patriots. I also wonder about these totals:
Cowboys vs Patriots Nuggets:— Joe Osborne (@JTFOz) November 20, 2019
Patriots are 20-0 SU in their last 20 games at home. (Avg winning margin: 16.6)
Patriots still haven’t allowed a red zone touchdown at home
Cowboys are 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four games on the road vs teams with winning records
Patriots OL should get a boost with Isaiah Wynn back at LT. And J.C. Jackson will have an expanded role on defense with Jason McCourty out. Also think this will be a big day for Jonathan Jones, who should be covering Randall Cobb— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2019
3:20 p.m.: Time for the weekly pregame reading list. Lots of good stuff to get to before kickoff, so let’s get started:
Tom Brady’s weapons vs. Cowboys:— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2019
WR: Edelman, Meyers, Harry
RB: Michel, White, Burkhead, Bolden
TE: Watson, LaCosse
Pretty, pretty thin
3:03 p.m.: Not a great week if you are a Patriots’ receiver. Here are this week’s inactives for New England -- Phillip Dorsett, Mohamed Sanu, Jason McCourty, Korey Cunningham, Damien Harris, Ryan Izzo, and Cody Kessler.
So the Patriots are down to Julian Edelman, Jakobi Myers, N’Keal Harry and Matthew Slater at wide receiver. (Is this the week we get the Annual Matthew Slater Deep Ball Attempt? We shall see.) The other mildly surprising thing is Jason McCourty being sidelined. The Patriots have plenty of secondary depth, but still, he’s a key part of the defense. The other inactives? None of them are a surprise, quite frankly.
2:50 p.m.: Welcome back to football everyone! We’ve got what promises to be one of the more compelling games of the year Sunday afternoon as the Patriots host the Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. Weather is expected to be a mess, with rain all afternoon and temperatures in the 30s and 40s. We’ll get you all the updates throughout the day, with the inactive analysis coming up just before the top of the hour. We’ll also deliver the latest betting lines, a pregame reading list, any breaking news from Foxborough and much more leading up to kickoff. Keep it here.