Sunday, October 14, 2007

Patriots Rout Cowboys 48-27 in "Duel in Dallas"

One game of the year down, at least one more to go. The New England Patriots improved to 6-0 by defeating the previously unbeaten Dallas Cowboys, 48-27. New England and Indianapolis (5-0) are the only remaining undefeated teams in the NFL; each team needs to win two more games to set up the next game of the year on November 4--a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game between New England and Indianapolis. There could be three more games of the year this season: the November 4th game, a seemingly inevitable New England-Indianapolis showdown in the AFC Championship and a possible New England-Dallas rematch in the Super Bowl.

The final margin was much larger than than the 31-21 New England win that I expected but most of my other predictions about this game were pretty solid: New England held Tony Romo's favorite target, Jason Witten, to three receptions and kept him out of the end zone; Romo played much better than he did last Monday but was not able to sustain enough drives to keep pace with New England's revamped offense; the game was indeed close at halftime and New England did pull away primarily by using the passing game; Owens bounced back to lead Dallas in receptions (six) and he scored one touchdown.

New England jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but Dallas stayed calm and battled back to cut the margin to 21-17 by halftime. The Cowboys forced the Patriots to go three and out on the opening series of the second half and then capped off a seven play, 74 yard drive with an eight yard Romo touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton. This was the first time that the Patriots trailed in the second half this season. Amazingly, the Cowboys did not get another first down the rest of the game and were outscored 27-3 (the field goal was set up by a long kickoff return).

Tom Brady has been an outstanding quarterback throughout his career but he has never had a receiving corps like the one he has now with Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker, who are complemented by tight end Ben Watson and third down back Kevin Faulk. Last year, the Colts improved their defense and Peyton Manning went from being a record-setting quarterback to a championship-winning quarterback; Brady has already won three championships but this year he may experience the best of both worlds by shattering some of Manning's records and winning a championship. The November 4th game will be a very interesting measuring stick but based on what we saw last year I expect the Patriots to win; New England had a big lead in the AFC Championship Game but the offense stopped scoring in the second half and the defense ran out of gas, neither of which is likely to happen this time around. If Brady had had just one more solid receiver last year the Patriots probably would have held on and won. This year it looks like the Patriots' offense is playing flag football or those seven on seven drills when the quarterback is not hit. An injury to Brady is probably the only thing that could derail the Patriots, because in previous seasons Coach Belichick has shown that even when seemingly essential players at other positions go down he can find adequate replacements.

No comments: