FOXBORO — Gillette Stadium hasn’t provided any home cooking for the New England Patriots this season.
The Dallas Cowboys kept the Patriots winless at their home confines Sunday, prevailing in overtime, 35-29. The Patriots are now 0-4 at home, the first time they have lost their first four home games since 1993.
Here are five thoughts from a the overtime defeat:
Patriots can’t come through in overtime
The Patriots couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity at hand when they got the ball first to start the overtime. New England punted the ball away and then the Patriots defense couldn’t stop the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb to give the Cowboys the win. It was just another example of the Patriots failing to come up with critical plays when it really needed them, which has been the case too often this season.
Furious ending to fourth quarter
It appeared as though the Patriots had blown the contest when Trevon Diggs intercepted a pass that went off Kendrick Bourne’s hands and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown and 26-21 Cowboys lead with 2:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But on the first play of the Patriots next drive, Bourne and Mac Jones redeemed themselves.
Jones threaded a pass down field to Bourne, who badly beat Diggs on the play with an out-and-up move and hauled in the reception before seeing nothing but open field in front of him for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Patriots were successful on the two-point conversion, but couldn’t stop the Cowboys from tying it up and sending the game to overtime. On third-and-25, Dak Prescott connected with CeeDee Lamb for 24 yards to set up a 49-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein with 20 seconds left in regulation.
Patriots defense did deliver two key takeaways
The complexion of the contest would have looked much different if it weren’t for two game-altering turnovers forced by the Patriots defense in their own end zone.
The first one came just over two minutes into the second quarter when Prescott’s pass was slightly off-target to Cedric Wilson allowing Justin Bethel, who filled in when Jonathan Jones was momentarily sidelined with a ribs injury, to deflect it and Kyle Dugger caught the ricochet for his first career interception.
With 1:30 left before halftime, the Patriots defense proved opportunistic again. On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Prescott appeared to sneak it in for the go-ahead score, but linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who recorded a game-high 13 tackles, made an incredible play that overturned the initial ruling of a touchdown.
When Prescott stuck the ball out to break the plane of the goal line, Bentley knocked the ball out of the grasp of Prescott before he crossed the goal line to cause the fumble, which Kyle Van Noy recovered in the end zone.
Patriots offense starts strong
Quick starts have been hard to come by for the Patriots this season, but that wasn’t the case Sunday. New England, which had been shutout in the first quarter in four of its previous five games, scored two touchdowns in the opening 10:50 of play.
The Patriots benefitted from an extremely short field on its first series following Dallas turning it over on downs on its own 34-yard line. Four plays later, the Patriots scored out of the the wildcat formation as Damien Harris took the direct snap four yards into the end zone.
The Cowboys answered with a touchdown on the ensuing possession, only for the Patriots to immediately march right down the field on a drive that featured a small handful of strong plays from rookie Rhamondre Stevenson before Jones connected with Henry.
The Patriots offense also wasn’t settling for field goals once it got into the red zone, which was also a change of pace. On the Patriots initial go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, it got more determined running out of Harris and Stevenson finished the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Penalties play a factor on both sides
Coach Mike McCarthy’s team proved to be an undisciplined bunch. The Cowboys continuously shot themselves in the foot, racking up 12 penalties for 115 yards.
The Patriots didn’t play a clean game, either. Jakobi Meyers had a touchdown reception nullified in the second quarter due to a hold on guard James Ferentz, who was called up from the practice squad to play in the Patriots patchwork offensive line. On the very next play, Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory walloped Jones, causing a strip sack and a Patriots turnover.