Patriots’ Defense Victimized for Three FGs in Win Over Dallas

Published: 11/24/2019 9:49:22 PM
Modified: 11/24/2019 9:46:39 PM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ overrated, no-name defense, which is absolutely not historic or significant in any sense — and how dare you suggest it is — were brutally savaged for three field goals in a 13-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
 
The vaunted Cowboys, who entered the game with the NFL’s top offense in terms of yards per game and DVOA, were nothing short of brilliant. In a showcase for his celebrated arsenal of devastating weapons, MVP candidate Dak Prescott repeatedly marched Dallas downfield for 3-point tries, pushing his team to the upper limit of single digits. Proving that the Patriots wilt in the presence of a real quarterback, Dallas could even have had a fourth field goal if not for a first-quarter miss from Brett Maher.
 
“It’s no secret, we get everybody’s best shot every week,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said.
 
The only thing missing from this game for Prescott and the Cowboys was a victory. Perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that Dallas failed to follow the blueprint drawn up by the Ravens earlier this season. That fool-proof, winning formula for beating the 2019 Pats (now 10-1) can best be summarized as: 1. Have Lamar Jackson. 2. Use him to do things no one is yet prepared to defend. The Cowboys did neither of those things and will likely reconsider that approach if they see New England again.
 
In its second-consecutive near loss, the Patriots’ offense struggled again. With both Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Philip Dorsett (concussion) sidelined, New England was forced to rely on N’Keal Harry — the broken-down tall kid from Arizona State, playing in just his second NFL game — and Jakobi Meyers, an undrafted receiver who probably also went to college.
 
Harry caught the game’s only touchdown on a back-shoulder throw from Tom Brady, whose continuing decline was best evidenced by repeated drops from his depleted receiving corps. Meyers had four catches for 73 yards. Julian Edelman, who still plays here, had eight catches for 93 yards.
 
To no one’s surprise, the Cowboys’ elite running back, Ezekiel Elliott, outgained Sophomore Slumpback Sony Michel. Elliott broke loose for 86 yards on 21 carries, while Michel stumbled to just 85 yards on 20 carries.
 
The egregiously overhyped Patriots defense is now allowing 10.6 points per game this season. That puts them on pace to finish just between the 2000 Ravens (10.3 points per game) and 1986 Bears* (11.7 points per game) to rank among the fewest points allowed in a 16-game season.
But the Patriots don’t even belong in the same sentence as those teams.
 
Why? Well, for one thing, name one player who is a potential Hall of Famer or even ranks as the best at his position in the game today? And if you’re thinking Stephon Gilmore, note that he only had one insane interception in this game when he could have at least had two. And Gilmore spent most of the day covering Amari Cooper, a receiver who didn’t even make a single catch. What kind of competition is that?
 
Furthermore, teams like the 2000 Ravens and the Bears of the mid-80s played in an entirely different era of football. Back then, there were fewer rules to protect quarterbacks and more lax enforcement of contact by defensive backs. Teams also ran more and had less-sophisticated passing offenses. When you combine those facts and adjust for nostalgia, the only plausible conclusion is that this Patriots’ defense is coasting on hype and their apparent historic effort is a mirage.
 
Just look what happened when they played a real quarterback like Dak Prescott. The three field goals. The 64.2 quarterback rating. The 15.3 QBR. Do you think Ray Lewis and The Fridge would have allowed such a porous atrocity? If so, then you’re not thinking at all.
 
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.
 
*Yes, the 1986 Bears. The 1985 Bears (12.4 points per game), actually gave up more points than the 86 version. But the 86 version had neither a rap video nor a Super Bowl victory, and are therefore generally regarded as an inferior defense.


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