The Patriots last-second win featured another textbook two-minute drive by
The Cowboys scored just one touchdown on three trips inside the Patriots 20, and each of the stops featured standout plays that were largely responsible for the success. The first appeared to be design while the second was a bit fortunate.
Trailing 13-10 early in the third quarter the Cowboys moved to the Patriots 7 and had a first-and-goal. After an incomplete pass, Tony Romo broke the huddle but was forced to burn a timeout as the play clock was winding down. After the break, the Patriots defense made a slight alteration and it worked to perfection.
The subtle change to move Carter resulted in perhaps the veteran's best single pass rush of the season, as he quickly shot past Smith and was on top of Romo immediately, offering the quarterback no chance to throw it away.
The second defensive stop came from
While Spikes ultimately made a key play, with the help of
"He was actually coming on a blitz on the weak side and when they pulled, it looked like he kind of just got in the back pocket of the puller and they weren't able to cut him off so he ran it down from the back side," Belichick said. "They do a good job down there. They have a lot of deceptive plays. They ran the submarine pass for a touchdown. They ran the roll pass out in the flat to the tailback. They do stuff like that that's misdirection or plays that are a little bit different down there that you don't get a chance to work on. Fortunately we were able to make the play on that. Brandon made a good tackle and that was a big stop for us."
Whether the Patriots defense was expecting the shovel pass or anticipating something else is irrelevant. The fact is with it back to the wall the much-maligned unit came up with big plays twice to hold Dallas to three points instead of seven. In a game ultimately decided on a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left, that made all the difference.