If last weeks performance against the Jets wasn’t convincing enough, the Patriots defense delivered another promising performance in Sunday’s 20-16 win over the Cowboys, as the unit continues to progress each week. Going up against one of, if not the most explosive offense they have faced thus far this season, they gave up the fewest points of the year.
Going into the game it was expected to be a shootout between the two offenses, but that was far from the case on Sunday afternoon. There were only 36 total points scored and six combined turnovers, including four by the Patriots offense. For the first time this season, it can be said that the Patriots defense won them the game.
The Dallas offense is an explosive unit with big name playmakers. When you see Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten lining up across from you each play, you know you’re in for a tough challenege. The Patriots defense was up to the challenge despite being without leader Jerod Mayo and members of the secondary including Sergio Brown, Josh Barrett and Ras-I Dowling. They held Romo to 300 yards passing, and got stops when they needed them the most.
The Cowboys got into the red zone three times, but were only to reach the end zone once. Also, the Patriots defense was effective on third down, which has been an issue both this year and last year. They held the Cowboys to a four first downs out of 12 attempts. The Patriots did this by mixing up their looks and being able to get pressure on Romo.
Andre Carter was able to sack Romo twice on the afternoon, leading the Patriots defense. Brandon Spikes also was able to get after Romo, forcing him into some difficult throws. Spikes had success blitzing up the middle, especially late in the game, which was very effective. Gary Guyton continued to pick up the slack with Mayo out of the lineup. Guyton finished with 10 tackles on the afternoon.
The Patriots get a well deserved bye week this week, but will need to be ready for the next few weeks as they have three difficult tests, including two road games against the Steelers and the Jets, and a home game with the Giants in the middle. After these next three games a lot will be known about the Patriots defense — were these past two games just a fluke, or is this defense actually pretty good, not the terrible, last in the league in yards allowed that it is seen as now.