The Dallas Cowboys headed to New England Sunday afternoon to take on the defending champion Patriots in one of the best games on NFL’s Week 12 slate.
Rain combined with wind led to an ugly overall game on both special teams and offense.
Once all was said and done at Gillette Stadium, New England came away with a hard fought 13-9 win over the Cowboys. Here are the biggest winners and losers from this huge Week 12 clash.
Winner: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
We’ll go ahead and give Elliott a lot of credit for rebounding after struggles over the past two games. The Pro Bowler put up just 92 rushing yards while averaging less than three yards per rush during that span.
With Dak Prescott struggling Sunday against an elite Patriots defense, Elliott came to play big time. The back tallied 126 total yards on 25 attempts. It represented one of the best performances for a running back against the Pats this season. Hopefully for the Cowboys, this translates to further success. Their schedule is not getting much easier moving forward.
Loser: Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett’s conservative nature came back to haunt the Cowboys big time. Down by seven in the fourth quarter, Dallas decided to kick a field goal to pull within four. It came on a 4th-and-7 from the Patriots’ 11. Dallas had not scored a single touchdown all game.
What made Garrett think that would change with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter? Dallas would ultimately get one more opportunity, turning the ball on downs when the team decided to pass on second and short. A bogus tripping penalty doomed the Cowboys on that play. Just an ugly example of Garrett’s struggles with in-game coaching. And it now has Dallas at 6-5 heading into Thanksgiving.
Winner: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
The conditions at Gillette Stadium were not good on Sunday. It led to struggles from both quarterbacks. Having not looked himself recently, Tom Brady completed just 17-of-37 passes for 190 yards in an ugly overall performance. However, his most consistent receiving threat stepped up when it counted the most.
Edelman caught 8-of-12 targets for 93 yards, coming down with big third-down catch after big third-down catch. Given that Brady completed 9-of-25 passes to other Patriots targets, Edelman’s performance loomed large in the 13-9 win.
Loser: Special teams
Both teams struggled big time with the conditions. For the Cowboys, that included a blocked punt from Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater that ultimately turned into New England’s only touchdown of the game.
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher also missed a 46-yard field goal that would have given Dallas an early 3-0 lead.
It wasn’t much better for the Patriots. On their third kicker of the season, veteran Nick Folk missed two field goals after hitting on his first five as a member of the team.
It’s not a surprise that the special teams struggled in the conditions at Gillette Stadium. But these struggles played a major role in the outcome of the game. That’s for sure.
Winner: Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
A potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Collins continued to dominate for the league’s best defense on Sunday. Despite not recording a sack, Collins was in the offensive backfield throughout the game. He put pressure on Prescott on key third-down opportunities.
It was yet another stellar performance from the linebacker. Collins finished the evening with 10 tackles, including five solo tackles. He also played extremely well in coverage. It goes without saying that Collins has come up big for his Patriots. That did not change Sunday.
Loser: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott entered Week 12 against the NFL’s best defense on a roll. The signal caller had tallied nearly 1,100 passing yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions over the past three games. Dallas needed Prescott to play big in an attempt to thwart a Pats defense that had yielded four passing touchdowns compared to nine interceptions on the season.
It did not happen.
Whether it was the rainy and windy conditions or New England’s elite defense, Prescott put up a stinker of an overall performance.
The contract-year quarterback completed 19-of-32 passes for 212 yards without a touchdown and that one interception. He was high and errant consistently throughout the game. In an elite-level matchup, Prescott came up small.