Cowboys’ D flunks test in final minute vs. Brady
The Dallas Cowboys turned the game over to their defense in the
final minutes, trusting Rob Ryan’s game plan to shut down the
Patriots one more time.
Against Tom Brady, that’s a risky strategy.
The Cowboys went conservative on their final possession, running
the ball three straight times to wind down the clock before punting
the ball back to New England. Brady got the ball with 80 yards to
go and 2:31 left, and he swiftly moved the Patriots down the field
for the game-winning touchdown and a 20-16 victory.
”Whenever you get the ball into the hands of a player like
Brady at home, you’ve got problems,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
said in the locker room. ”We are up here on their field and we
knew what the odds were, so we flipped a coin and it came up
against us. We know what they are about and what our challenge was
Dan Bailey kicked a 26-yard field goal to break a 13-13 tie with
5:13 left to play, then Dallas forced New England to go
three-and-out. Getting the ball back at their own 28 with 3:36
left, the Cowboys had three rushing plays and a false start before
punting the ball back to the Patriots.
That gave Brady one more chance. And he delivered, hitting Aaron
Hernandez in the middle of the end zone from 8 yards out for the
”Tom obviously has a good track record. He’s a great
quarterback. He’s won Super Bowls here for a reason,” Cowboys
quarterback Tony Romo said. ”At the same time, I believe in our
defense. I’ll take our defense any day of the week going
He had good reason for confidence, because the defense had
already slowed down a Patriots team that had scored 30 or more
points in 13 consecutive games.
The last team to hold New England under 30: the Cleveland
Browns, last Nov. 7. The defensive coordinator of that team: Rob
Ryan, who now leads the defense on the Cowboys.
”You have to run the ball in that situation because of the time
situation, and I thought our defense had done a good job,” Cowboys
coach Jason Garrett said. ”It’s an outstanding offense; it’s one
of the best offenses in the league. You’re challenging your
defense, no doubt about it.
”When you’re playing against a quarterback like Tom Brady –
he’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats, so you have to
try to make it hard on him.”
New England (5-1) won despite its first two lost fumbles of the
season and Brady’s two interceptions. He finished the game 27 of 41
for 289 yards with two touchdowns.
It was the 32nd successful comeback of Brady’s career in games
the Patriots trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. And it
came against a solid defense – ranked fourth in the NFL – that had
allowed just one touchdown on the Patriots first nine
Dallas, coming off a bye week, did that for most of the day,
sacking him three times and intercepting two passes. But on the
final 80-yard drive that started with 2:31 left, Brady completed
eight of nine passes for 78 yards.
”We prepare hard for that situation every week and when it came
up this week, it’s good to get the ball in the end zone,” Brady
said. ”I’d prefer to be up four touchdowns with two minutes left,
but it just wasn’t the case.”
Dallas (2-3) ended a five-game road winning streak after a bye
despite coming back from a 13-3 deficit midway through the second
quarter. Romo was 27 of 41 for 317 yards, one touchdown and one
interception in his first game since a 34-30 loss to the Detroit
Lions in which the Cowboys squandered a 24-point, third-quarter
lead and Romo threw two interceptions that were returned for
The Cowboys have lost two games by four points and one by
Wes Welker, who entered the game as the NFL leader with 45
catches and 740 yards receiving, was held to six for 45, but three
of those catches, covering 21 yards, came in the go-ahead drive.
The last one covered six yards over the middle, putting the ball at
Then Brady found Hernandez in one-on-one coverage.
”This is probably, as a whole, one of our worst performances as
an offense,” Patriots receiver Deion Branch said. ”It’s times
like this when we show what we’re made of – that last drive.”
The regular-season win was the Patriots’ 20th straight at home
and Brady’s 31st in a row at Gillette Stadium.
”When it comes to crunch time, he is at his best,” Cowboys
linebacker Keith Brooking said.
Notes: Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Brady have won 116
regular-season games together, tying Miami’s Don Shula and Dan
Marino for most in NFL history. … DeMarcus Ware had two sacks for
Dallas, giving him seven in five games this season. … The teams
met for the 11th time with the Patriots winning their fourth in a
row after losing the first seven.