The conditions were far from ideal, but the Patriots battled their way to a 13-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
1. No turnovers - Generally speaking, teams that take care of the football will have success. Ball security paid dividends for the Patriots last week against the Eagles, and today, it was a similar story. It was the second consecutive game the Patriots did not turn over the ball. Given the rainy and windy conditions in Foxborough, this was quite the feat.
2. Secondary - Stephon Gilmore continues to be the anchor of this dominant Patriots defense. The cornerback started the second quarter by intercepting Dak Prescott as he looked to Amari Cooper on the right side. The interception put the Patriots offense deep in Dallas territory and set up a 44 yard Nick Folk field goal. Gilmore completely took Cooper out of the game. It wasn’t just Gilmore who made plays for the Patriots secondary. Jonathan Jones displays consistency each week using his athleticism and speed to make impressive plays. Sunday he had three tackles and a pass defended.
3. Sony Michel - Michel got off to a hot start rushing for over 40 yards in the first quarter. His day was far from perfect as he struggled with consistency, but the second year back had his best game of the season. Michel showed flashes of what he was last year particularly at the start of the fourth quarter when he dodged nose tackle Antwan Woods and picked up 15 yards and his first down run at the end of the quarter sealed the victory.
4. Special Teams - Matthew Slater had his first blocked punt of the season. The veteran special teams captain has had a tremendous season and he continues to show us the impact the special teams unit can make on a game. The blocked punt put Brady and company in perfect position to show off the threat that rookie N’Keal Harry can be in the red zone. Brady connected with Harry on a 10 yard touchdown pass and it was all set up by the Slater blocked punt.
1. Deatrich Wise - In the second quarter as Prescott connected on a deep ball to wide receiver Michael Gallup, Wise was called for a roughing the passer penalty to put the Cowboys in the red zone. Thanks to the Patriots dominant defense, the Cowboys had to settle for three, but the Patriots paid for the ill advised penalty.
2. Third Down - While the offense looked slightly better than last week, third down was a big problem. Brady struggled to find open receivers. The quarterback continuously looked for Edelman on third down, and while the receiver had a tremendous game, he looked to be playing through an injury. When Edelman wasn’t open on third down, Brady struggled. Jakobi Meyers’ day was far from perfect, but he did make some crucial catches. Perhaps the rookie can evolve into a reliable option for Brady, particularly in third and long situations. The Patriots were 3 of 14 on third down.
3. Red Zone - The Harry red zone touchdown gives Patriots fans a glimmer of hope, but the red zone continues to be a problem. The Patriots had to settle for field goal attempts four times and only successfully scored on two of the four attempts. As the running game evolves and as Brady continues to build trust with Harry, the red zone should improve.