Report Cards: Patriots - Cowboys

The Patriots knocked off the Cowboys 20-16 to improve to 5-1. Which units earned poor marks, which ones excelled? Week 6 report cards for both teams.

PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. COWBOYS

   PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The two interceptions certainly didn't help, but Tom Brady is often judged on the overall outcome, not just the numbers. Dallas' defense is among the best in the league, and he beat the odds when it mattered most, completing the game-winning touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining. The offensive line needs to block better.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The lack of a running game certainly didn't help Brady's cause. BenJarvus Green-Ellis never really got going, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, and Stevan Ridley was a non-factor. With the game being so close, it came down to Brady's right arm, so the running game was far from complementary.

   PASS DEFENSE: B -- As nose tackle Vince Wilfork noted, "it's getting better." The Patriots put significant pressure on Tony Romo and, for the most part, held Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in check. Kyle Arrington's first-half interception helped the cause. Romo's yardage came from the fact he threw so often (41 times), but the Patriots did a nice job avoiding the big play.

   RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Cowboys never really tried to establish the run, but they couldn't get much going when they did either. Wilfork and the front seven looked sharp, limiting DeMarco Murray to just 32 yards on 10 carries. No one else factored in the running game, and Dallas' lack of balance certainly hurt Romo more so than New England's lack of balance hurt Brady.

   SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Field position never really turned out to be a huge factor thanks in part to the Patriots' coverage units. Stephen Gostkowski chipped in with two field goals. The return game was the only real sore spot due to a fumble on a kickoff return by Matthew Slater.

   COACHING: A -- Most of the credit goes to Brady for the game's final minutes, but the Patriots always seem to make all the right calls when running the two-minute drill. They took what the defense gave them. Dallas wanted to avoid the big play, so New England went underneath. The Patriots pushed the right buttons throughout the day despite the fact the game was a bit too close for comfort in the end.

Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots vs Abram Elam Cowboys  Oct 16, 2011 (Elsa/Getty Images)


COWBOYS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

   PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Tony Romo had an average game, completing 27 of 41 passes for 317 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Miles Austin dropped three passes in the game. The Cowboys called a conservative game plan so Romo would not make mistakes. Dez Bryant caught four passes for 78 yards but was shut out in the second half for the third time this season.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Cowboys rushed for 77 yards on 24 carries but 17 of those were on a scramble by quarterback Tony Romo. The backs gained 60 yards on 23 carries. Blame it partly on an offensive line that was manhandled by the Patriots.

   PASS DEFENSE: C -- Numbers-wise, the Cowboys did great in containing Tom Brady and receiver Wes Welker. Brady completed 27 of 41 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was sacked twice. Welker caught six passes for 45 yards. But Brady was eight for nine on the game-winning scoring drive, throwing a 16-yard game winning touchdown pass.

   RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Cowboys gave up 101 yards on 25 carries largely because the Patriots spread them out and ran against the nickel defense.

   SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Kicker Dan Bailey made three field goals. He has now made 14 straight kicks. He was also solid on kickoffs again. Mat McBriar averaged 40 yards on four kicks.

   COACHING: D -- Coach Jason Garrett has drilled game situations into the Cowboys since training camp. But for the third time this season they blew a fourth-quarter lead in a loss. Garrett also showed that he no longer trusts his quarterback.

More Cowboys news at Ranch Report
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This report courtesy of the Sports Xchange

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