Patriots - Cowboys Key Review

Rich Lyons nailed it again in his three keys before the Dallas game. See what Rich predicted would be the keys and how those turned out on Sunday.

Now, let's see how each team fared in the keys to the game:

New England:

1. Attack The Dallas Secondary: No doubt was this the biggest factor for the Patriots' sixth win. Tom Brady picked apart the banged up defensive backfield, and was particularly successful going over the middle of the field, going after those safeties that were caught out of position so many times throughout the game.

2. Stop The Run Early: This was particularly puzzling to me, as Dallas, while being so effective running the ball, instead chose to go to the air to try and get themselves out of the deficit they faced early on in the game. Marion Barber looked unstoppable. At one point, he was nearly wrapped up for a safety, but broke five or six tackles to make his way out of the end zone and close to the original line of scrimmage, one of the best running plays not only of the game, but of the entire year. The Dallas running backs only had 14 carries between them, and chalked up 98 yard collectively, a 7.0-yard average.

3. An Effective Offensive Line: While their performance in this game wasn't their best showing of the year, they did nevertheless help Brady out when he was in the pocket looking for receivers. Once Sammy Morris left the game, the offense became very pass-oriented, and despite their one-dimension game plan, the line still did a very nice job straying away any pressure that was attempted.

Dallas:

1. Not Asking Tony Romo To Do Too Much: Romo really didn't put himself in a very vulnerable situation in terms of making a mistake until his fourth quarter interception to Seau. The Dallas passing game was fairly conservative, and Romo completed 62% of his passes and threw for two scores.

2. Establish The Run Early And Often: Again, I was shocked at how little Dallas ran the ball in this game. The few times they did, they were absolutely overpowering the Patriot defense. Anytime a defense gives up seven yards a carry, the thought process should be to continue to exploit that weakness. The Cowboys did not, and it hurt them in the end, as they lost the time of possession battle by almost 17 minutes.

3. Special Teams: While this game was close for a while, special teams did not factor in nearly as much as I thought they would. One thing to note is Wes Welker's 12 yard average on punt returns, which gave New England some nice field position on a number of instances. The Cowboys are going to have to look into their coverage on punt and kick returns, as they clearly were weak in this area for the second week in a row.

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