Cowboys @ Patriots Game Notes

The Patriots running game has come to life recently.

Let's start focusing on this week's opponent, the New England Patriots. This is a great opportunity for the much-healthier Cowboys to prove themselves against a big-time team. Tom Brady is tearing it up again this year, besides the Buffalo game where turnovers became an issue, and Wes Welker continues to amaze. The Pats defense hasn't measured up to the offense so far. The trick is to score enough points to overcome the Brady-led offense.

In the first weeks of the season, the Patriots were a pass-heavy team, but as Pats Pulpit points out, the last two weeks has seen a rise in their running game.

In the first three weeks of the season, the Patriots struggled to get the running game going. However, the past two weeks, the Patriots have been running the ball very effectively, thanks to the efforts of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley. Against the Jets on Sunday, the Patriots actually ran the ball more times than they threw, with a 35-33 ratio. 27 of those running plays were courtesy of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who racked up a career high 133 yards and also had two touchdowns on top of that. This was against a defense that allowed Ray Rice to pick up only 66 yards on 25 carries.

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Playing the Patriots at home is no easy task, and playing them in October is tough.

The Patriots have now won 19 straight regular season home games dating back to a 47-7 win over Arizona on Dec. 21, 2008. The Patriots own an overall record of 62-12 (.838) at Gillette Stadium in regular season games. Since their state-of-the-art facility opened at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Patriots own the NFL's best record at home all-time.

The Patriots are 31-5 in the month of October since the 2003 season and have won 22 out of their last 24 October games. The Patriots are 17-1 at home and 14-4 on the road during that time in October. New England was 4-0 in October in 2010.

The Pats defense has switched from their traditional 3-4 for the most part this year, going heavily with 4-3 sets. In a lengthy response to a question about it, Bill Belichick explains why. The shortened version:

"We've played a mixture of odd (3-4) fronts and even (4-3) fronts, but I just felt like from a starting point -- given the lack of spring opportunities to practice and meet, and the shortened training camp in terms of actual number of practices -- that from a teaching standpoint we felt like there would be more carryover teaching our base defense and nickel defense really as one front," Belichick explained.

In the nickel they go four down linemen, so they taught their base defense as a 4-3 this year because of new guys and the lockout.

Besides Wes Welker, you have to keep an eye on the Patriots tight ends. They can slice you up. The Pats are also keenly aware of our tight end, Jason Witten. They've had some success against good tight ends recently, but realize Witten is the complete package.

The Pats held San Diego’s Gates without a catch in Week 2, while on Sunday against the Jets, Keller had one catch for 7 yards.

(Belichick on Witten):

"He’s outstanding. He’s really a guy you have to be aware of all the time,’’ he said. "I think the big thing that separates Witten from a lot of other tight ends is his blocking ability. He’s a very good point-of-attack blocker. They run behind him so you have to deal with him in the running game. In the passing game, he’s really good in all three areas. He’s good on the short routes and he’s a hard guy to tackle. He’s good on the intermediate routes and he can get down the field. "He’s really a complete player. I think he’s one of the best tight ends in the league, no question about it.’’

Series Notes below.

DALLAS COWBOYS (2-2) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (4-1)

SERIES


COWBOYS

PATRIOTS

SERIES LEADER

7-3

STREAKS

Past 3

COACHES VS. OPP.

Garrett: 0-0

Belichick: 3-1

LAST WEEK

Bye (Wk. 4: L 34-30 vs. Lions)

W 30-21 vs. Jets

LAST GAME

10/14/07: Patriots 48 at Cowboys 27. New England QB Tom Brady passes for 388 yards with 5 TDs & 0 INTs for 129.6 passer rating as Patriots improve to 6-0.

LAST GAME AT SITE

11/16/03: Patriots 12, Cowboys 0. New England's defense registers 3 INTs, including 2 by CB Ty Law, as Patriots win game between division leaders.

BROADCAST

FOX (4:15 PM ET): Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 137 (Dal.), 86 (NE). XM: 230 (NE). 

STATS

PASSING

Romo: 99-152-1,273-7-5-92.9

Brady: 133-196-1,874 (1L)-14 (T1L)-6-109.5 (1C)

RUSHING

Jones: 56-241-4.3-1

Green-Ellis: 77-333-4.3-5 (T1C)

RECEIVING

Witten (TE): 27-366-13.6-1

Welker: 45 (1L)-740 (1L)-16.4-5 (T1C)

OFFENSE

417.8

495.2 (1L)

TAKE/GIVE

-4

+3 (3C)

DEFENSE

291.8 (1C)

433.0

SACKS

Ware: 5

Anderson: 3.5

INTs

Lee: 2

Arrington: 3 (T1L)

PUNTING

McBriar: 49.5 (2C)

Mesko: 45.6

KICKING

Bailey (R): 45 (9/9 PAT; 12/13 FG)

Gostkowski: 43 (19/19 PAT; 8/9 FG)

NOTES

COWBOYS: In past 6 starts vs. AFC, QB TONY ROMO has completed 134 of 205 (65.4 pct.) for 1,941 yards with 13 TDs vs. 4 INTs for 109 rating. Has 100+ rating in 5 of those 6 games. In starts with 10+ att., when he has 100+ rating, team is 28-6 (.824)....RB FELIX JONES needs 8 rush yards to reach 2,000 in career. In past 5 vs. AFC with 8+ att., RB TASHARD CHOICE has rushed for 403 yards (80.6 per game) & 3 TDs...TE JASON WITTEN ties for 2nd among NFL TEs with 27 catches. Since start of 2007, leads NFL TEs with 392 catches & 4,495 yards. WR-PR DEZ BRYANT tied career-high with 2 rec. TDs in last game. Averages 17.1 yards per catch (171 yards, 10 catches)...LB DE MARCUS WARE has 11 sacks in past 7. Has sack in 6 of past 7. Since start of 2006, has 77 sacks, most in NFL. Has 85 sacks in 100 games, 2nd most by player in 1st 100 (HOFer REGGIE WHITE, 105). Had sack in only meeting. DE JASON HATCHER had 29-yard FR-TD in last game vs. NE. LB SEAN LEE has 3 INTs in past 2 vs. AFC, incl. 31-yard TD. Was named NFC Defensive Player of Sept.

PATRIOTS: Club has won 19 consecutive games at home & can tie Packers (20, 1929-1932) for 4th-most consecutive regular-season wins at home...NE has won 22 of past 23 games vs. NFC...Rank 1st in NFL w/ 495.2 yards per game in '11...QB TOM BRADY (275) needs 1 TD pass to surpass VINNY TESTAVERDE (275) for 8th-most in NFL history.  Brady has won 30 consecutive regular-season games at home, longest such streak in NFL history. Has thrown at least 1 TD pass in 21 consecutive regular-season games. RB BEN JARVUS GREEN-ELLIS had career-best 136 rush yards last week & tied career high with 2 rush TDs...WR WES WELKER aims for 4th straight game with 120+ rec. yards (217, 158, 124). Has 740 receiving yards this season, most ever through team's 1st 5 games of season. WR DEION BRANCH seeks 3rd straight game with TD...Welker & TE ROB GRONKOWSKI are tied for 2nd in NFL with 5 TD rec. (CALVIN JOHNSON, 9)...DE MARK ANDERSON had season-high 1.5 sacks last week.

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