Dak Prescott bested Mac Jones Sunday at Gillette Stadium, delivering a 35-yard touchdown pass in overtime to upend the Patriots, 35-29.
Jones, who tossed a pick-six earlier in the fourth quarter that looked like it would be a backbreaker for New England, very nearly led the Patriots to an upset, finishing with 229 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, including a dramatic fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne that went went for 75 yards.
New England drops to 2-4 on the season, while the Cowboys improve to 5-1.
The Patriots took a 14-7 lead after one quarter when Damien Harris had a 4-yard touchdown run off a direct snap, and a Jones 20-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry, scores that sandwiched a Prescott touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin midway through the first quarter.
The Cowboys then went on 13-0 run to take the lead, a series of scores that included a touchdown pass from Prescott to CeeDee Lamb later in the third and culminated with a 45-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein with 13:13 to go in the fourth quarter to make it 20-14.
New England answered with an impressive 13-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:50 and ended with Rhamondre Stevenson’s first career NFL touchdown, a plunge from the 1-yard line to make it 21-20 halfway through the fourth quarter. The Cowboys then turned the ball back to the Patriots after Zuerlein missed a 51-yard field goal with 2:42 left.
That set the stage for another wild finish, as Trevon Diggs came up with a 42-yard pick-six on Jones — his old Alabama teammate — to make it 26-21 with just over two minutes left in regulation. Jones then followed with a laser to Bourne, a 75-yard scoring strike that sent Gillette Stadium into a frenzy. After a successful two-point conversion, it was 29-26.
But Prescott and the Cowboys answered again, as Zuerlein was good from 49 yards out with 20 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra session, Prescott found CeeDee Lamb for the game winner with 3:52 left in OT.
Here’s how the game unfolded:
Dallas wins — 7:50 p.m.
That does it. Dallas wins, 35-29.
OT — 7:37 p.m.
The Patriots and Cowboys are headed for overtime.
Dallas answers — 7:35 p.m.
Greg Zuerlein makes it 29-29 with 20 seconds left. The Patriots will get the ball back with one timeout.
Wow — 7:22 p.m.
What a crazy game. The Patriots have re-taken the lead on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Bourne. After the two-pointer was good, it’s 29-26 with 2:11 to go.
Diggs delivers for Dallas — 7:19 p.m.
A thunderbolt of a play — Diggs picked off Mac Jones, his old Alabama teammate, and returned it for a touchdown. Dallas now leads 28-21. The two-point attempt was no good. There’s 2:27 to go.
FG no good — 7:16 p.m.
The field goal is no good. The Patriots will get the ball with 2:42 to go, up one.
Pats take the lead — 7:05 p.m.
Down six midway through in the fourth quarter, that was a big-time drive there for the Patriots’ offense. Jakobi Meyers had a pair of 11-yard receptions to spark things at the start, and Damien Harris added a 22-yarder and a 6-yarder shortly after that to get into the Dallas red zone. Harris then picked up a key third-down, and Rhamondre Stevenson plunged in from the one for the first regular-season touchdown of his NFL career. (The third red-zone touchdown of the day for New England.) The extra point was good, and it’s 21-20 New England with 6:23 to go in regulation.
Dallas converts FG — 6:53 p.m.
A 45-yard field goal with 13:13 left in regulation makes it 20-14, Dallas. Let’s see how New England responds here -- you’re getting to a point in the game where you have to convert on some of these offensive opportunities.
Three quarters are done — 6:45 p.m.
Heading into the fourth, it’s 17-14, Dallas.
Prescott-to-Lamb makes it 17-14 — 6:35 p.m.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, the yards allowed in this one are going to be seriously skewed. (I’ve always maintained that all stats have to be placed in some sort of context, anyway.) Just look at the bottom line, and the New England defense — at least through the first two-plus quarters — has played better than expected, holding the league’s second-best scoring offense (at 34 points per game) to just two touchdowns. They just got their second there on a 1-yard pass play from Prescott to Lamb. Dallas leads 17-14 with 4:49 to go in the third quarter.
Pats injury news — 6:26 p.m.
Hightower (elbow) and Winovich (hamstring) are both questionable to return.
Wynn was demolished — 6:12 p.m.
Yikes. Randy Gregory just flat-out embarrassed Isaiah Wynn on that last third-down play, leading to a sack, and a New England punt. Dallas will take over at its own 31-yard line with 12:48 left in the third.
Some clarification — 6:07 p.m.
Halftime analysis — 5:58 p.m.
Two quarters are in the books in Foxborough, and the Patriots lead the Cowboys 14-10. Here are a few quick notes:
- Mac Jones: 7-for-7, 100 yards, 1 passing TD
- Damien Harris: 5 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD
- Rhamondre Stevenson: 2 catches on 2 targets, 36 yards
- Dak Prescott: 17-for-23, 192 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Eziekel Elliott: 12 carries, 33 yards
- Amari Cooper: 3 catches on 3 targets, 42 yards
A few observations:
▪ The New England offense played extremely well for the first quarter-plus, as Jones and the Patriots took a 14-7 lead after just seven offensive plays. (New England didn’t face a third down until there were just over five minutes left in the first half.) Harris started things with a four-yard run for a touchdown after a direct snap to the running back. New England followed that with a lightning-quick series that ended with a 20-yard scoring strike to Hunter Henry. A pair of red-zone touchdowns was a great way to start things for an offense that had struggled in that area to this point in the season.
▪ As a group, the Patriots’ defense yielded plenty of yardage, but had a pair of great red-zone stops, which ended up holding the Dallas offense to just 10 points. First, there was a Kyle Dugger pick of Prescott, and then, New England stopped the Cowboys on a fourth-and-goal situation from inside the one. Both were great bend-but-don’t break moments for the Patriots’ defense. The yardage totals from this one could be very ugly, but the scoreboard is sill in New England’s favor.
▪ The secondary has struggled to slow Prescott to this point, but they made the biggest play of the first half when Dugger picked off Prescott in the Dallas end zone early in the second quarter. Justin Bethel — who was in the game after the injury to Jonathan Jones — was briefly the No. 3 corner before Jones returned. But the corner position for the Patriots is certainly worth watching moving forward. Without Shaun Wade (concussion) and Joejuan Williams (healthy scratch), New England is already perilously thin at the position.
▪ The low point of the first half for the New England offense came just after the Dugger pick. After the Patriots’ maneuvered back downfield, a James Ferentz penalty negated what would have been the first career touchdown reception of Jakobi Meyers’s career (poor guy). On the next play, the Dallas pass rush forced a takeaway, setting Prescott and the Cowboys’ offfense up for a 30-yard field goal to cut the Patriots’ lead to 14-10 with 6:39 to go in the first half.
▪ Jake Bailey had a punt blocked late in the second quarter, his second blocked punt of the season. Overall, it was the ugliest moment of the game for the Patriots. The defense ended up bailing out the special teams with a great stop at the end of the second quarter — it made for a wild finish to the end of the first half.
▪ New England will get the ball to start the second half.
Defense rebounds with big stop — 5:51 p.m.
Wild sequence there. The Cowboys had multiple rushing attempts inside the New England 5-yard line, and finally lost possession when Dak Prescott fumbled the ball away on a fourth-and-goal attempt. As poor as we’ve seen the New England defense play in end-of-half situations over the last year-plus, that was an impressive stand. Good work by the defense.
Cowboys block Bailey punt — 5:42 p.m.
Ouch. Second blocked punt of the season right there gives the Cowboys great field position. When is the last time you’ve seen the Patriots have two blocked punts in the same season?
Pats keep Cowboys out of the end zone — 5:33 p.m.
Jonathan Jones, who has returned from a stint on the sidelines, showed great technique a moment ago knocking away a possible touchdown pass on a key third-down play, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a 30-yard field goal. It’s 14-10 New England with 6:39 to go in the first half.
Cowboys get the ball back — 5:26 p.m.
A pair of bad back-to-back plays for New England: First, a James Ferentz penalty nullified Jakobi Meyers’ first career touchdown reception. On the next play, the Dallas pass rush got to Mac Jones, knocking the ball out and forcing the turnover. A tough series of events for an offense that had been playing well to this point in the afternoon. Dallas gets the ball at its own 48 — it’s 14-7 New England with 10:05 to go in the first half.
Big interception for Dugger — 5:17 p.m.
HUGE stand there by the New England defense, as Kyle Dugger picked off a tipped ball in the Dallas end zone, giving the ball back to the Patriots — after a nice return, New England will get the ball at its own 25-yard line with just under 13 minutes left in the first half. A bend-but-don’t-break special there for New England.
In other news, cornerback Jonathan Jones (ribs) is questionable to return. Without Joejuan Williams (healthy scratch) and Shaun Wade (concussion) in the lineup this afternoon, it’s a very dicey situation for the New England secondary, as special teamer Justin Bethel — who tipped the ball that led to the Dugger pick — is now the Patriots No. 3 corner.
First quarter is done — 5:10 p.m.
Patriots are up, 14-7, but the Cowboys are driving:
Mac Jones: 4-for-4, 65 yards, 1 TD
Damien Harris: 2 carries, 25 yards
Rhamondre Stevenson: 2 catches, 25 yards
Dak Prescott: 13-for-14, 161 yards, 1 TD
Amari Cooper: 3 catches, 42 yards
Zeke Elliott: 6 carries, 9 yards
Flag day for Cowboys — 5:04 p.m.
The Cowboys have been flagged for five penalties with just under two minutes left in the first half. I’d make a joke about a Cowboy shooting himself in the foot, but it’s almost too obvious.
Pats’ offense red-hot early — 4:56 p.m.
Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson got that series started with a pair of impressive catches, one for 13 and another for 23 yards. Trevon Diggs picked up a DPI, and given a golden situation, Jones found Hunter Henry for a 20-yard touchdown. Another red-zone touchdown! The extra point was good, and it’s 14-7 with 4:50 to go in the first quarter. I’m not sure this pace is sustainable for the Patriots — they’ve run seven plays and have two touchdowns — but it’s an excellent start on offense, regardless. Overall, Jones is 4-4 for 65 yards and a touchdown, while Stevenson has two catches for 36 yards and Damien Harris has two carries for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Dallas answers to tie the game — 4:48 p.m.
Good example of the quick-strike abilities of the Dallas offense there. A super-aggressive series of plays from the Cowboys — who got back-to-back first downs to get the series started — took just seven plays and went 75 yards in 3:37 to tie the game at seven. Prescott went 6-for-6 on that drive, finding five different pass catchers along the way. (Overall, Dak is 8-for-8 for 98 yards and a touchdown so far.) Easy to see that the comfort level in this one for the Patriots’ defense is going to be pretty close to zero from start to finish.
Strong start for New England — 4:40 p.m.
Not sure the Patriots could have had a better start, getting top-notch contributions in all three phases. First, the defense got a terrific fourth-down stop, setting up the offense with good field position at the Dallas 34-yard line. Mac Jones and the Patriots then punched it in after three plays; Damien Harris had a gain of 21 yards, and Jonnu Smith caught a 9-yarder right after that. They topped it off with a direct snap to Harris for a 4-yard touchdown — a red-zone touchdown! Nick Folk delivered the extra point, and it’s 7-0 with 10:20 to go in the first quarter. Excellent beginning for New England.
Pats stop Dallas on fourth down — 4:34 p.m.
Not a great start for J.C. Jackson, who yielded a pair of early completions, but that was mollified by a pair of impressive stops right after that. First, Matt Judon (and others) held up Zeke Elliott on third-and-short, and Dont’a Hightower (and others) stuffed Elliott on a fourth-and-short play. Good start for New England, which will now take over at the 34-yard line.
Pats defer, will kick — 4:24 p.m.
New England will kick it off. Time for football
Official Price Prediction — 4:11 p.m.
As far as this afternoon is concerned, I think Dallas wins — just barely. A late field goal, an untimely turnover, or something similar. The Patriots will play well — and slow the game down, much like they were able to do against the Buccaneers — but will come upon just short. New England has a small margin for error this afternoon, and the only way the Patriots can pull it off is to get some sort of special teams magic. (blocked punt, return for touchdown, etc.) Ultimately, we’ll see a Mac Jones touchdown pass and a Matt Judon sack, but I still think the Cowboys win, 23-20.
How will Pats handle OL today? — 3:59 p.m.
According to those at the stadium, the Patriots’ starting offensive line in warmups looks like this:
LT: Justin Herron
LG: James Ferentz
C: David Andrews
RG: Ted Karras
RT: Yodny Cajuste
That’s the same group that started against the Texans last week. If they roll out together to open the game, it’ll be the second time all season the Patriots have had any sort of game-to-game consistency up front. (They had the same lineup for Games 3 and 4 earlier in the season.) In addition, I’m curious to see just how much time usual starters Mike Onwenu (left guard) and Isaiah Wynn (left tackle) see in their return from the COVID-19 list.
Jerry Jones is in the house — 3:50 p.m.
A few stats to look for this week — 3:43 p.m.
•Nick Folk enters this week’s game with 299 career field goals and needs one more to become the 35th NFL player to reach 300 career field goals. He would become the fifth active kicker to reach 300 career field goals.
•Matthew Judon can become the seventh New England player with a streak of at least five straight games with a sack and the first Patriots player to do so since Chandler Jones accomplished the feat in 2015.
•If Jakobi Meyers completes a pass this week, he would become the first wide receiver in franchise history to complete more than two passes in a single season. Julian Edelman completed two passes in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and Harold Jackson completed two passes in 1980.
•If Mac Jones completes 70 percent of his passes against Dallas, he will become the first rookie quarterback to ever complete 70 percent of his passes in five of his first six games.
Our team is in place — 3:30 p.m.
You guys say New England will win a close one — 3:28 p.m.
How will Pats fare today as a home underdog? — 3:22 p.m.
For the most part, the line for this one has stayed consistent, as Dallas has been anywhere between a 3.5-point and a 4-point favorite, which feels a little much. I think there’s the very real chance this week that the Cowboys beat the Patriots, but fail to cover. With the exception of the Saints game, New England has been in every game it has played this year, and this afternoon will be no different. The over/under is anywhere between 50 and 50.5, and despite the fact that it’s a near-perfect day weather-wise (which should lend itself to offense), I think we’re still looking at the under. A few betting stats, courtesy of our pals at Odds Shark (love that first one):
New England is 13-2 against the spread in its last 15 home games as an underdog.
Dallas is 5-0 against the spread this season.
The total has gone under in five of Dallas’ last five games when playing on the road against New England.
Dallas are 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games against New England.
And a little more info from this morning from our buddy Patrick Everson:
No weather issues in the forecast — 3:15 p.m.
Looking at an amazing day for football — per weather.com, temps will be in the high 50s to low 60s, with partially cloudy skies and almost no chance for precipitation. There should be a decent gust of wind from the west, but that appears to be the only wrinkle in the forecast for today’s game.
No surprises among Cowboys inactives — 3:10 p.m.
Wynn, Herron among the actives for Patriots — 3:05 p.m.
The following players are out for today’s game against the Cowboys:
Guard Shaq Mason (abdomen) was ruled out on Friday. Mason, who remains one of the most durable linemen in the league over the last few seasons, will miss his second consecutive game. I’d expect the Patriots to lean on some combination of Ted Karras and James Ferentz at the guard spot, both of whom did well to stabilize an offensive line that was wracked by injury last week in Houston.
Cornerback Shaun Wade (concussion) has had a lousy stretch of luck to open his New England career. Initially, he took multiple healthy scratches, but a head injury has left him sidelined this week. Jalen Mills, who has been slowed by a hamstring issue (he was limited all week), should continue to get the bulk of the reps opposite J.C. Jackson, but Wade’s continued absence leaves them a little thin at corner.
Cornerback Joejuan Williams wasn’t on the injury report all week, which means he’s a healthy scratch. Not a great sign for Williams, especially when you consider just how thin the Patriots are at cornerback. As is the case with Wade’s absence, this likely means that Mills is feeling better than expected.
Running back J.J. Taylor (groin) has had his issues with ball security (he fumbled in the rain against the Bucs), which led to a healthy scratch. But he popped up on the injury report as a limited participant on Friday, and was listed as questionable. It likely means more Brandon Bolden in the running game than initially expected.
Linebacker Ronnie Perkins (ankle) has been a healthy scratch on multiple occasions this season, but an ankle issue left him questionable all week, and inactive for today’s game against the Cowboys.
Tight end Devin Asiasi will take another healthy scratch — the youngster is still in the long shadow of veterans Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Among the notables who are active include running back Damien Harris, who missed practice Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday with a rib issue, as well as offensive linemen Justin Herron (back) and Isaiah Wynn. Wynn returns after being placed on the Covid-19 reserve list Oct. 5 and returning Saturday. Wynn has not practiced in several days, so It’ll be interesting to see how many snaps he might get this afternoon. Bottom line? After a rough start, New England’s tackle position could finally be starting to build some depth.
Pregame reading list — 2:40 p.m.
Best way to get gameday started:
Ready for some football? — 2:35 p.m.
After a wild week of baseball, it’s time to get back to football. This afternoon, we’ve got the Patriots hosting the Cowboys, with kickoff set for 4:20 p.m. It promises to be a compelling game, as Dallas looks to get to 5-1, while New England is hoping to improve to 3-3 on the year. We’ll have all the action here, including the usual pregame fun — inactive analysis, the latest betting information, updates from the stadium, news from around the league, a prediction that’s guaranteed to be wrong, and much more. So grab a coffee and let’s get started.
Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.