It was a big game that had so much anticipation. This was the Cowboys chance to make the impression that they were one of the top teams in the NFL. It was 60 minutes of hope, but one that featured very little to get excited about. The Cowboys fell behind early and stayed behind as they fought all game to get themselves back in it. There were moments where it looked like they had a chance, but they could never get it done. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys 13-9 loss to the Patriots.
1. The weather outside was frightful
There is nothing like a cold, windy, and wet game to affect this big matchup. Right out of the gate, it was clear that running the football was going to loom large in this one. Both teams had success on the ground, with each team eclipsing 100 yards rushing. The Patriots had a couple good chunk plays and the Cowboys kept the chains moving. As far as the passing game, receivers from both teams had trouble hanging on to the ball. Dak Prescott even had to switch to wearing a glove as he was having trouble gripping the ball.
2. Giving them points
With such a tough opponent, it goes without saying that the Cowboys needed to have a clean game if they were going to have a shot in this one. Well, it wasn’t clean. The Cowboys wasted no time making costly miscues that New England was able to turn into points. On the Cowboys third possession, Chris Jones had his punt blocked, giving the Patriots the ball on the 12-yard line. New England scored two plays later to go up 7-0. On the Cowboys next possession, Prescott was a little off on his throw, and it resulted in an interception by Stephon Gilmore.
The Patriots got 10 points off of turnovers. That’s the bad news. The good news is the Cowboys defense did a good job fending them off to where the game remained close through it’s entirety.
3. Defense played great
Yes, there were a couple big plays given up, and there was no excuse to allow a conversion on 3-and-20, but overall - the Cowboys defense played very well. The Patriots offense was held to just 282 yard, and only converted 3/14 from third downs. Tom Brady was held to just 181 yards passing, and the only red zone conversion they had was after they were given a short field following a block punt.
If someone told you that the Cowboys would end up holding the Patriots to just 13 points, you’d be happy, but as it turned out, the offense just couldn’t capitalize on a great defensive effort.
4. No show offense
The Cowboys no. 1 ranked offense in yards lost the battle against the league’s best defense. It was a great opportunity to show the world how good they can be, but they just weren’t up to the challenge. Dak Prescott only threw for 212 yards, which was his lowest total on the season. There were several instances where he just missed his target. Amari Cooper was held without a catch for the first time in his career with the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott made up a lot of the offense as he had 86 yards on the ground and added another 40 in receiving, but he just didn’t get enough help in the passing game.
The Cowboys were 2/13 on third down, and 0-for-2 in the red zone. It was the second straight game the Patriots defense kept them out of the end zone as it’s now been eight years since the Cowboys last scored a touchdown against New England.
5. Missed field goals
With the weather being an issue, one had to wonder if teams would’ve been better served going for it on fourth down rather than trying a field goal. The Cowboys were faced with this dilemma first as they had a 4th-and-6 from the Patriots 29-yard line. They opted to have Brett Maher give it a go, and his 46-yard attempt hit the left upright.
The Patriots were faced with a similar challenge later in the game and each time, they also attempted the field goal. The first time Nick Folk sent it through, but he was not so fortunate during his next two attempts. Field goals made up most of the scoring as there were five total field goals made, but there were also three of them missed.
6. Tyron penalties
The Cowboys had their normal offensive line out there, and they did a pretty good job protecting Prescott as he was never sacked. Unfortunately, left tackle Tyron Smith had some costly penalties. First, he had a false start on the offenses first drive inside New England territory. Considering Maher’s field goal attempt drifted left at the last second to hit the upright, those five yards turned out to be costly.
Smith was also called for a tripping penalty later, which didn’t look like tripping to me, but oh well. The most costly penalty from Smith came when he was called for holding after the Cowboys nullifying a third-down conversion after Prescott hit Amari Cooper for 15 yards.
7. Are you tripp’n?
If it wasn’t bad enough that Smith got called for a tripping penalty, Travis Frederick got called for one as well. It was a complete joke. Frederick made no attempt to trip the Patriots defender as he was just blocking. I’m beside myself wondering how they saw that as tripping. FOX’s officiating analyst Mike Pierra tried to rationalize it , but Troy Aikman wanted no part of it. You be the judge...
This is the exact opposite of a tripping. He moved out of the way to avoid tripping the defender. This BS has to stop. Please NFL. Stop this. pic.twitter.com/J8Lt0RBKls— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 25, 2019
It was a terrible call and it proved costly for the Cowboys as it took away a third-down conversion and put them behind the chains. The offense never recovered and turned the ball over on downs two plays later.
8. Questionable third down call?
Both Troy Aikman and Joe Buck made a point to mention that the Cowboys should’ve ran the ball on third down when Frederick was flagged for that penalty. Personally, that sounds like hindsight coaching. Sure, a running play works there, but keep in mind - the Cowboys still had a long way to go and a short time to do it. Not only that, but Dak was getting into a rhythm and the passing game was working.
Either a run or pass work there, but second-guessing Kellen Moore’s play-calling is easy to do after the fact. The Cowboys actually called a good play and got the first down, but just got hosed by poor officiating.
9. Special teams continues to be atrocious
The Cowboys special teams unit is not good, and that’s been showing up on a regular basis. Late in the third quarter, the team had an opportunity to pin the Patriots deep in their own territory, but after two straight penalties moved them back, the Cowboys ended up losing 20 yards of field possession. Those yards mattered because it allowed the Patriots to get three points on their ensuing drive.
And then, on the following kickoff - the Cowboys weren’t in position to field a short kick and let the ball bounce, almost resulting in a turnover. With the wind against the Patriots, it was obvious the kick was going to be short, but the Cowboys seemed clueless to that notion. Troy Aikman said it best when he proclaimed “that’s a coaching issue.” The Cowboys special teams unit is poorly coached.
10. No harm, no foul
Losing sucks, even if it was a tough road game in bad weather against the best team in the AFC. It was a great opportunity to move further ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles after they lost to the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the day. But it didn’t happen, so the Cowboys are right were they were to start the day, with a one-game lead.
Does it make us feel less confident about this team going forward? Maybe, but it’s certainly not a killer loss as everything is still most likely going to come down to that Week 16 meeting to determine which NFC East team gets to play in the playoffs.