Tuna’s visit spoiled
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – You had the so-called coaching Battle of the Bills. And new silver jerseys for the home team.
Good thing there was drama off the field at Gillette Stadium, because there certainly wasn’t a whole lot on it Sunday night as the New England Patriots won a 12-0 defensive struggle against the Dallas Cowboys, raising their record to an impressive 8-2.
The Patriots, who were buoyed by the return of veteran nose tackle Ted Washington but were also without injured receiver Troy Brown, grabbed a 9-0 halftime lead and appeared to live up to their promise to pay no attention to the media hype surrounding the coaching matchup of Dallas’ Bill Parcells and New England’s Bill Belichick.
Once again, it wasn’t pretty, folks, but not too many of the Patriots’ wins this year have been. But, in the end, does it matter?
The Patriots opened the scoring on their second possession, with Brady beating the Cowboys in an all-out blitz by hitting Deion Branch for a 46-yard gain to the Dallas 11. They had to settle, however, for a 23-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 3:05 left in the opening quarter.
Another long completion gave the Patriots their second score, as David Givens shook loose from Cowboy cornerback Terence Newman for a career-long 57-yard gain to the Dallas 5. A roughing-the-passer penalty put the ball on the 2, and that’s how far Antowain Smith had to go for the game’s first touchdown with 2:34 left in the half.
Dallas’ Flozell Adams did manage to block Adam Vinatieri’s extra point attempt to hold the New England lead at 9-0. That was Adams’ second PAT block of the season, third of his career.
The Cowboys looked like they might finally cut into the Patriots’ advantage,_driving to the New England 19 with just over 2:30 left in the third quarter. However, Carter, under a heavy rush from Patriots Willie McGinest and Bobby Hamilton, tried a dump-off pass to tight end Jason Whitten, who bobbled the ball into the eager hands of Patriot cornerback Ty Law at the Patriot 19.
Through three quarters, New England was actually being outgained by the Cowboys, 230-224, but it didn’t translate the same way on the scoreboard. The Patriots appeared to put their stamp on this as they stopped the Cowboys on fourth-and-1 at midfield, as linebacker Tedy Bruschi broke through and nailed Dallas running back Troy Hambrick with just about 9:30 left in the game. New England’s nine-point lead looked like 29 at that point.
Brady’s two long completions before the half gave him six completions of more than 45 yards this season. He had just two prior to this year, one each in 2001 and 2002. . . .
Coming into the game, the Patriots were 14-2 (.875) in games where Smith has a touchdown run . . .
Adams’ block snapped a streak of 86 straight successful extra points for Vinatieri. The last time he missed a PAT kick was on Oct. 14, 2001 . . .
Heading into last night, the Patriots had won 15 straight games when leading at halftime . . .
Terry Glenn’s comments about New England certainly didn’t sit well with the fans, who booed him when he finally made his first catch midway through the third quarter . . .
Washington left the game and headed for the locker room under his own power during the second quarter, but he returned for the second half . . . .
New England’s next two games are on the road, at Houston next Sunday and then Indianapolis on Thanksgiving weekend. Their next home game is an AFC East showdown with Miami on Dec. 7. Word is the Patriots intend to wear their new silver jerseys in that one, too.