Final, Patriots 20-16: The Cowboys' Hail Mary attempt failed, and the Patriots pulled out a tough one. That was the 32nd game-winning drive of Tom Brady's career, and we'll have plenty of coverage throughout the night on NESN.com.
The Patriots improved to 5-1 as they head into the bye week.
Fourth quarter, 0:22, Patriots 20-16: Unreal. This guy is something, huh? Tom Brady led an 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a dime to Aaron Hernandez in the middle of the end zone for an eight-yard score. I'll break down the drive for a postgame story, so keep an eye out for that.
Fourth quarter, 2:31, Cowboys 16-13: The Patriots forced a three-and-out on three Dallas runs, and the Pats' offense has a chance. Wes Welker returned the 64-yard punt to the New England 20. The Pats have one timeout and the two-minute warning at their disposal.
Fourth quarter, 3:36, Cowboys 16-13: The Patriots went three-and-out, and it came in surprising fashion. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a three-yard loss on second-and-1, and no one got open for Tom Brady on third down. The Cowboys take over at their own 28, and the Patriots have all three of their timeouts. Big opportunity for the defense, obviously.
Fourth quarter, 5:13, Cowboys 16-13: Dallas has its first lead after Dan Bailey's 26-yard field goal, but the Cowboys are leaving points on the board, too. Also, on second- and third-and-goal, Dez Bryant had one-on-one coverage with Leigh Bodden wide left, but they never went to him. Brandon Spikes made a tremendous tackle to stop Tashard Choice after a designed shovel pass on third down before the field goal.
Now, it's Tom Brady's turn again. So far, the Patriots have two field goals in the red zone and two turnovers within field-goal range. Can they put the mistakes to rest here?
Fourth quarter, 9:09, 13-13: I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the amount of times I've said Tom Brady made a really dumb decision, but that's one of them. Brady rolled to his left to evade pressure and forced a pass into three Cowboys defenders. It was intercepted by Sean Lee to end the Patriots' drive at the Dallas 33. More points off the board for New England.
Fourth quarter, 12:54, 13-13: The Patriots have mixed it up enough with their pass rush — it hasn't been great, but it also doesn't need to be when Tony Romo has happy feet — and Brandon Spikes got a hit on Romo on second-and-10 at the New England 45 to throw off Dallas' rhythm. Then, after Miles Auston ran a great route and Romo made just as nice of a throw, Kyle Arrington recovered in time to knock the ball loose and force the incompletion. The Patriots will take over at their own 25 after the punt.
The Pats have moved the ball just fine when they haven't made a costly mistake, whether it's an interception, fumble, sack or holding penalty, so it's almost a matter of survival here. They'll move the ball as long as they don't do something to set themselves back. Is that an obvious statement? Sure. But sometimes you've got to state the obvious.
Third quarter, 0:30, 13-13: Aaron Hernandez fumbled the ball away at the Dallas 16 to ruin another red-zone possession for the New England offense. It's also the Patriots' third turnover of the game. No one is happier than Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer, who made a dumb running-into-the-punter penalty earlier to keep the Patriots' drive alive. The sloppiness of this game, for both sides, has sabotaged a game that should have been a fun one.
Third quarter, 5:50, 13-13: The Cowboys have erased a 10-point deficit, but the Patriots held up again in the red zone, forcing Dan Bailey to kick a 22-yard field goal. Andre Carter came up with the big play of the drive to sack Tony Romo on second-and-goal. Carter lined up at left defensive end, which is rare for him. He got a sack from the other side of the line earlier in the game.
The Cowboys have been beating the Patriots with crossing routes in this game. Guys are just running freely across the defense, and that's usually on the inside linebackers to shore up that issue.
Felix Jones has been pacing up and down the sideline all quarter. He doesn't have a helmet on, but he hasn't been limping, either.
Kyle Arrington suffered a left wrist injury on that series but returned to the field. Patrick Chung also appeared to hurt his right hand, and he's been wearing a cast on it for about a month now.
Third quarter, 11:48, Patriots 13-10: The Patriots didn't do much there and had to punt it away to Dallas, which will start at its own 19. Tom Brady was sacked by DeMarcus Ware for the second time after the linebacker beat Matt Light and BenJarvus Green-Ellis on basically a straight-line rush. No kitchen sink there.
Brady, by the way, has 15 rushing yards, which is his most since 2007 and tied for his 10th most of his career. His career best was a 31-yard explosion against the Jaguars in 2006.
Third quarter, 14:53, Patriots 13-10: Stevan Ridley returned the second-half kickoff to the New England 27, and the Patriots will open it up in the third quarter. Ridley has returned the last two kickoffs since Matthew Slater's fumble, so that experiment was a quick one.
Halftime, Patriots 13-10: The Patriots have a slim lead after an ugly half of football from both teams. The Cowboys have to feel pretty good after scoring late to get it close after playing a fairly horrendous half.
A couple musings that were lost due to the Internet outage: Cowboys running back Felix Jones suffered an ankle injury during the Cowboys' last possession, and it's unclear whether or not he'll make it back. He had to get the left ankle re-taped on the sideline.
Also, Aaron Hernandez had consecutive receptions during the Patriots' touchdown drive, and he showed some sizzle that I don't think he had last week when he returned from the knee injury. I thought Hernandez played through a considerable amount of pain against the Jets, and it wouldn't have surprised me if he shut it down a little more this week to get some extra rest. Clearly, he's showing some toughness by gutting it out through this one.
Second quarter, 0:33, Patriots 13-10: Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for a 1-yard touchdown on second-and-goal. Credit Dane Fletcher for nearly keeping Witten out of the end zone, but some things like that can simply be impossible. Good play-action from the Cowboys there, too, and Witten snuck into the flat before catching the pass. Albert Haynesworth made a big push through the line to disrupt things temporarily.
Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 13-3: Apologies are in order for some Internet connectivity issues, but Brady hit Welker for a 5-yard touchdown reception. It was originally ruled down on the 1 but was reversed on replay.
The Cowboys are now driving, looking to tighten things up before half.
Second quarter, 10:37, Patriots 6-3: The Patriots are making life tough for Tony Romo, who looks like a wreck in the pocket. It looks like he's having trouble figuring out the coverages and can't make a decision where to throw the ball. Unless he settles down, the Cowboys are destined for a few more turnovers.
Second quarter, 12:07, Patriots 6-3: Another stalled red-zone trip. Nate Solder's holding penalty put the Patriots in a second-and-goal situation from the 18-yard line, and they couldn't find the end zone, yielding Stephen Gostkowski's 26-yard field goal.
The Patriots beat the Cowboys with the no-huddle on that drive and even got them flagged for 12 men on the field. The Cowboys have been flagged five times so far, and two of them were declined.
End of first quarter, 3-3: Well, I thought the offenses would dominate this game, and there'd be 60-70 points posted. Yeah, not so much at this point. There have been nearly as many turnovers (four) as points (six) through the opening 15 minutes. It looks like there will be plenty of room for these two offenses to work, but they've got to stop making mistakes.
First quarter, 1:03, 3-3: Tashard Choice fumbled the ball away to give the Patriots the ball at their own 21. Vince Wilfork forced the fumble, and Gerard Warren recovered it. This game isn't even 14 minutes old, and each team already has two turnovers. Ugly stuff so far.
First quarter, 2:00, 3-3: The mistakes keep mounting for New England. Matthew Slater fumbled the kickoff to set up the Cowboys on the New England side of the field again. Slater is in there because Julian Edelman is out with an ankle injury. Last week, Stevan Ridley was returning kickoffs, and I was surprised Taylor Price didn't get an opportunity. It's a revolving door without Edelman.
First quarter, 3:16, 3-3: Big series for the Patriots defense to hold the Cowboys to a field goal after Tom Brady's interception. Dan Bailey kicked a 48-yarder after the Cowboys lost seven yards on the series. Devin McCourty was bailed out by an offsetting holding penalty earlier in the drive. McCourty should have intercepted a badly floated pass to Laurent Robinson in the end zone, but McCourty never turned his head and was forced to hold Robinson to keep him from scoring. Just bad awareness there.
First quarter, 4:47, Patriots 3-0: The Patriots have gotten a decent level of pressure on Tony Romo, and Andre Carter registered a sack on third down.
Immediately after the punt, Tom Brady's pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by Terence Newman, who jumped in front of Deion Branch to set up the Cowboys at the New England 23. Taylor Price was on the field for that play, by the way.
First quarter, 8:41, Patriots 3-0: The Patriots left some points on the board after stalling out in the red zone, which was an issue last week against the Jets. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the Patriots in the lead.
There was a loud roar from Cowboys fans after DeMarcus Ware sacked Tom Brady on third down, too. It's amazing how well this fan base travels. That's Ware's sixth sack of the season and the 86th of his 101-game career. He's now recorded a sack in 62 of 101 career games. So he's good.
First quarter 12:03, 0-0: Tony Romo threw an awful interception to Kyle Arrington t give the Patriots possession at the Dallas 47. Arrington was lined up on Miles Austin in the right slot, and when Austin ran a post, Arrington fell behind him. That worked to his advantage because Romo threw an off-balance pass to Dez Bryant, and the ball sailed too far into Arrington's hands.
Arrington started opposite of Devin McCourty, and James Ihedigbo started at safety for the second game in a row. Gary Guyton started in Jerod Mayo's spot in the 4-3, and Kyle Love started next to Vince Wilfork inside. Albert Haynesworth came in late in the drive and missed a tackle on Felix Jones after wrapping him up at the line.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The opening kickoff went for a touchback, and the Cowboys take over at their 20.
4:13 p.m.: The Cowboys called heads and lost the toss. The Patriots deferred, so the Cowboys will receive the opening kickoff. Game on.
4:06 p.m.: It's still weird to see the Patriots wear their white jerseys at home. I do like the Cowboys' blue jerseys, though. No more fashion stuff for me. I'll get back to football next.
4:04 p.m.: The Patriots and Cowboys are minutes away from taking the field to get this thing going. And with the way things are shaking out at the Meadowlands, the Patriots will have an opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
3:06 p.m.: Sebastian Vollmer is surprisingly inactive after returning to practice this week. Back injuries are tough, but I really thought this was the week he'd return, especially after the Patriots unloaded Tom Welch earlier in the week (and have since put him on the practice squad). So the Patriots only have two tackles in this game. Donald Thomas and Ryan Wendell are the backup linemen, but they're interior players.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (ankle), quarterback Ryan Mallett (not on injury report), cornerback Ras-I Dowling (thigh), safety Josh Barrett (hamstring, thumb), safety Sergio Brown (chest) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) are also inactive. More details to follow.
2:31 p.m.: There's a guy in the stands wearing a Roger Staubach Navy jersey that looks like this. Absolutely one of the coolest jerseys I've ever seen at a game in any sport.
2:23 p.m.: Here's a look at how DeMarcus Ware will affect the Patriots' offense Sunday. Crazy stat: Ware has played 100 career games, and he has recorded at least a half sack in 61 of them.
2:20 p.m.: An airplane flew over Gillette Stadium with an SBLI ad that also had a sign, "Go Pats, keep Romo in slo-mo."
There's also a family of Drew Bledsoe fans in the crowd. The father has a Cowboys jersey (and Red Sox hat, which is an interesting combo), the mother has a new-school Patriots jersey and the daughter has an old-school blue Patriots jersey.
2:01 p.m.: Danny Woodhead has gone through an intense workout, and it's also been supervised by offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and running backs coach Ivan Fears, who are watching to see if he can be effective despite the ankle injury that kept him out last week against the Jets. Aside from running and stretching, Woodhead has gone through blocking drills and a route tree. He looks OK from here, but I don't know how much that's really worth.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has continued to warm up on his own, which almost certainly means he's been cleared to play.
1:49 p.m.: Danny Woodhead is warming up with Harold Nash right now, which makes it look like he is a game-time decision with his ankle injury. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is also questionable with a toe injury, started working out on his own, so it looks like he's good to go.
1:09 p.m.: It's a beautiful day here at Gillette Stadium, where it's a sunny, windy, perfect fall day. Patriots fans should also be excited to know Walt Coleman is the referee for this game. Coleman, of course, is the master of the tuck rule.
8 a.m. ET: It's going to be a fun day at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots and Cowboys will duel in a showdown that features two of the NFL's most prolific offenses.
The Patriots are ranked first in yards per game and passing yards per game, second in points per game and sixth in rushing yards per game, while the Cowboys are ranked sixth, third, 26th and 12th in those categories, respectively.
Expect a high-flying affair, and quarterbacks Tom Brady and Tony Romo should have no problem marching up and down the field throughout the afternoon.
Stay with NESN.com's live blog throughout the day, as we'll stay on point with everything happening in Foxboro.
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