Two things will ring true from this heartbreaking loss. With 3:38 left on the clock, the Cowboys had a chance to ice the victory on the road, and proceeded to get stuffed and commit penalties. After giving the ball back to the Patriots, the defense that had been amazing all game long, was unable to stop New England from driving for the winning score.
The Cowboys trailed by 10 in the second quarter, 13-3, but a 92 yard drive milked the clock and cut the deficit to three at the half. The defense was able to keep Tom Brady and the Pats off the scoreboard until the final drive, when he was 8 of 9 for 72 yards.
Very tough loss for the Cowboys, folks. Costly penalties plagued this team left and right at the most inopportune times. With the Giants and the Eagles wins from the early time slot games, the NFC East is jumbled up, as the Cowboys enter a supposedly easier stretch of their schedule. We'll be back with more shorty. Tough loss, a lot of things to pick at, but as always, remember our Code of Conduct.
Continued analysis after the jump.
Felix Jones and Bill Nagy were injured on the afternoon; both ankle injuries with Nagy leaving on the cart. We'll update their status as soon as possible.
Dallas took a 16-13 lead with 5:13 left to go in the fourth quarter, on Dan "Split'Em" Bailey's third field goal of the afternoon. After a first down gain of nine on a TE screen, Sean Lee tackled BGE behind the line of scrimmage on second down, and great coverage forced a Brady pass in the dirt on third. It was only the eighth three and out all season for the Patriots. It was a great stand, and really should have been the last play the defense needed to make.
The offense returned to the field, and Phil Costa promptly got trampled over by Guyton, who stopped DeMarco Murray for a loss of two. On the next play, Guyton shot through the line again to disrupt the play, spinning off a Kyle Kosier block. Shaun Ellis was being blocked by Martellus Bennett and was also in on the tackle. Third and 13, rookie Tyron Smith flinched just enough and was called for a false start. 3rd and 18 a trap draw to Choice to force the Patriots to call another time out and a punt was coming.
I've seen plenty of JG bashing on twitter for that play calling sequence, but the Cowboys blockers just got beat.Throughout the game, the Cowboys runners were making small gains even after being hit in the backfield. 24 rushes for 77 yards; a 3.2 average, is all they could muster.
Brady got the ball back with 2 and a half minutes left, and proceeded to march New England methodically down the field. He continued to pass to his tight ends, completing the first two for consecutive first downs. A quick pass to Welker entered Dallas territory at the two minute warning, then a pass to Welker on an out to the right sideline gained another first.
The Cowboys appeared to get pressure on the next snap, but Brady stepped into a clean pocket and found Woodhad underneath. When the Pats gained a first on a QB sneak two plays later, a dump off to Woodhead would move them inside the 15. Another Welker completion and a timeout then led to a touchdown to Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez had inside position on Mike Jenkins, who appeared late to react to needing to undercut the tight end.
New England's two tight ends combined for 15 catches on the day.
In addition to the failure to run out the clock, or hold the Patriots to at the most a field goal, the team had many other errors earlier in the game that kept them from capitalizing on their early defensive performance.
The Cowboys started the game with the ball, but quickly turned it over when Romo threw in between Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and right to a Patriots defender. Later, after tying the game at 3, the Cowboys forced a fumble on the kickoff and recovered it at the New England 32. Five plays later, Tashard Choice coughed it up and gave New England the ball back.
Later, a ridiculous running into the punter by Anthony Spencer was later bailed out by a great forced fumble by now little-used Bradie James. Then, Miles Austin dropped two consecutive catchable passes to stall a drive in Patriots territory to start the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys gave up two turnovers on the day, and a disgusting 10 penalties for 77 yards. Creating four turnovers saved this team plenty of times, but the offense wasn't able to translate those into a winning amount of points.
Dez Bryant also disappeared in the second half again, not seeing a single target until a last gasp, desperation heave on the final play of the game. There were some kinks in the team's offense early, possibly due to rust from the bye week and not having a chance to practice as a full unit. However, this game was there for the taking, and up 16-13 both units had the opportunity to win this game for the team.
They'll head back to the drawing board tomorrow, as a 2-3 team in preparation a home date against the 0-5 St. Louis Rams.
BTB will have plenty of game analysis coming in the days ahead. I know this loss hurt and this summary focus on the team's failures, but there were positives in this game. Win against St. Louis and the Cowboys sit at 3-3 with a 3-1 record against the conference.