FOXBORO, Mass. — Some assorted notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 13-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Gillette Stadium:
— Bill Belichick closed out his postgame news conference with some unprompted praise for right tackle Marcus Cannon.
Cannon missed practice Friday with an illness and, according to Belichick, was in such rough shape that his chances of suiting up Sunday appeared slim. But the veteran offensive lineman convinced the coaching staff he was healthy enough to play, and after remaining in the locker room during pregame warmups, he went nearly wire to wire for the Patriots, braving the cold, wind and rain to play 62 of the team’s 70 offensive snaps.
Cannon’s lone respite came late in the second quarter, when Marshall Newhouse replaced him for New England’s final drive of the first half.
“I’ll just say one final thing then in closing that one of the real top efforts today would have to go to Marcus Cannon,” Belichick said. “Marcus was, three days, just feeling under the weather. I honestly didn’t expect him to play today. We talked before the game and he felt like he’d be able to work through it, so we tried to help him out a little bit there at the half. But I would say overall, it was one of the top efforts I’ve seen.
“For a guy who just barely had enough strength to put on his uniform, went out there and played against multiple good football players. But certainly with (DeMarcus) Lawrence and (Michael) Bennett playing over there, I thought he played very, very competitively. Played tough, and is the kind of leadership and toughness that we have on this team, so that was a great job by Marcus.”
Speaking with Cannon after the game, it was clear his illness had not subsided. He credited right guard Shaq Mason and New England’s tight ends for giving him the help he needed.
“I know they would do it for me, so I did it for them,” Cannon said. “I just went out there and knew everyone was working together. I had Shaq next to me making sure I was all good and tight ends chipping in, so there was a lot of help.”
Asked if this was the toughest game he’s ever had to prepare for given the circumstances, Cannon smiled and replied: “I’m trying to figure out a way not to answer that.”
“It was pretty tough, but I’m thankful and blessed that God helped me through it,” he added. “… My family, my wife — all of them are sick now,” Cannon said. “My teammates. It was a big effort, and I’m just thankful for everybody that helped me. I love them all.”
— The Patriots finally had Cannon’s other bookend back in the lineup Sunday, as left tackle Isaiah Wynn played every offensive snap in his return from injured reserve.
Wynn surrendered a strip-sack and five hurries against the Cowboys’ talented defensive front, according to Pro Football Focus, but he helped the Patriots to their most productive rushing performance in weeks.
Sony Michel finished with 85 yards on 20 carries, with several of his best runs coming on plays to Wynn’s side. That included a 12-yarder in the final minutes that all but sealed the win for the Patriots.
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“Injury is just a part of the game, so I just took it the best that I could,” Wynn said. “But it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the offense, so in a way, it kind of gave me the upper hand.”
— Patriots kicker Nick Folk went 2-for-4 on field-goal attempts, hitting from 42 and 44 but missing from 46 and 48.
Folk, who’d made every kick in his first two games with the Patriots, said Sunday’s weather conditions were some of the toughest he’s played in.
“You just try to hit a good, clean ball, and I felt like I did all day,” he said. “The two that I missed, I hit them pretty clean. There wasn’t much movement on the ball itself. I was expecting a little more (movement). I didn’t think the wind would cut through that much. It was a little bit tricker on that end today than I’ve ever had here.”
Folk’s final field goal — a 42-yarder — gave the Patriots a seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“We’ll go back and learn from the ones I missed today tomorrow,” the 34-year-old said. “In the game, you’ve just got to put it behind you, go and be confident out there and hit a good kick. Luckily in the fourth quarter, I hit a pretty big one to put us up seven.”