Heading into Sunday, much was made of the fact that the Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a game against the New England Patriots in Foxboro since 1987. Granted, this stunning stat accounts for only six games over that span, yet considering the Pats boast a 181-83 record at home since those waning years of the Reagan administration, there is no denying the legitimate home field advantage the Massholes possess regardless of whether or not they’ve had the greatest NFL player of all time behind center. The record is even more shocking over the Tom Brady era, however, with New England dropping only 17 out of 144 home games.
Taking into account that TB12 is now gone and the rest of the Pats roster cumulatively resides below the bar of league average, Dallas was just better than a field goal favorite before kick. As such, the contest had all the makings of a classic Cowboys trap game. Subpar opponent? Check. Rookie QB? Check. Dallas seems to love to spot first-year signal-callers the best game of their early career. (Recall the Thanksgiving game against RGIII?) Four-game winning streak ripe for being snapped? Check. Evil sports sorcerer exceptionally skilled at nullifying your team’s greatest strength on the opposing sideline? Also check.
Yet it was Football Palpatine’s lack of ability to do so that ultimately allowed Dallas to sneak out of Bah-stin with the W. It’s hard to take away a team’s offensive strength when they’re pretty damn good at everything. It took the last-minute heroism of Dak Prescott (how he is not leading MVP discussions right now is downright criminal) and second-year wideout CeeDee Lamb to lift Dallas to a stunning 35-29 overtime victory.
Far from a clean game, it was a riveting, often enraging, and absolutely oxygen-depleting affair that no doubt sent stock prices of blood pressure medication soaring in the Lone Star State. To the previous point, Belichick was far from the Cowboys’ most potent adversary. That title belongs only to the Cowboys themselves. The combined forces of persistent red zone problems (aided by poor officiating), untimely turnovers spotting the Pattys free points, and an almost laughable amount of costly penalties (12 of them to the tune of 115 yards!!!) all did their best to wrest away what should have been a fairly simple win.
Dak would have to throw for 445, the most passing yards allowed against a Belichick-coached New England team ever, to overcome the tomfoolery. He was helped by defensive end Randy Gregory, who garnered two sacks, one resulting in a fumble (and a likely concussion for QB Mac Jones) and cornerback Trevon Diggs, who continued his impossible streak (seven interceptions in six games) by adding another pick-six to his ever-growing resume for Defensive Player of the Year consideration. You can ignore the fact that he appeared to be burned for a 75-yard TD on the very next play. That one was more likely on safety Damontae Kazee.
The aforementioned Lamb was integral, posting nine catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the walk-off 35-yarder in overtime, capped with an instantly GIF-able wave bye-bye.
Despite the hair-pulling, it was one of the more entertaining games you could hope to see. It recalled another Cowboys all-timer when Tony Romo characteristically farted around and spotted the Buffalo Bills a pair of touchdowns off interceptions and Dallas also allowed a kick return to go to the house. Romo would eventually pick the team up over his head and carry the ’Boys to a last-second game-winning field goal in the classic Monday night game. Like Sunday’s against the Pats, it was a game they should have easily won that became a game they had no business winning but that they eventually would.
This, to me, is just the latest example of how this year’s Cowboys team is also different. (That ’07 Cowboys team went 13-3.) Last year, two years ago, 10 years ago, Dallas loses this game. Yet, mostly due to the heroics of one Rayne Dakota Prescott, they managed to pull it out. It wasn’t without cost, however. Dak came down awkwardly on the final pass, straining his calf, an injury that saw him in a walking boot after the game. An MRI on Monday assuaged the worst of fans’ fears as it doesn’t appear to be serious.
As luck would have it, Dallas heads into the bye week next week, which should give No. 4 plenty of time to heal. In addition, the week off will potentially help this great team get even better. Right tackle La’el Collins will again be available after his five-game suspension. And the rich get richer: Second-round rookie corner Kelvin Joseph and wide receiver Michael Gallup should also be back. It’s also another week toward Pro Bowl edge-rusher Demarcus Lawrence returning from a broken foot as well. How crazy is it that you probably haven’t even thought of the fact they are missing Gallup and Lawrence? (Gregory is about to get a giant sack of money.)
Next up, Dallas draws the 3-3 Minnesota Vikings in chilly Minneapolis in another prime-time game on Sunday Night Football on Halloween. Could that be the trap game the Pats game almost was? I can’t wait to find out.