In a battle of two 5-0 teams, the Cowboys used the Patriots as a measuring stick to see if they were indeed back among the NFL's elite. But after a 48-27 loss at Texas Stadium, it looks like Dallas still has a ways to go before it can be mentioned in the same breath with NFL heavyweights like the Patriots and Colts. Meanwhile, the Patriots sent a stern message that they were every bit as good as their undefeated record.
"Dallas fought hard. Coach (Bill) Belichick told us at the half that Dallas is the best second-half team in football," receiver Randy Moss said. "We really had to match their intensity. The game was hard-fought, the first couple minutes of the third quarter. But Tommy (Brady) led us down the field on a couple of drives, and the guys just made it happen."
The game was actually a lot closer than the final score indicated, but the Patriots listened to their coach and seized the second half after the Cowboys came roaring back. The Cowboys took the lead in the third quarter, 28-24, but it was all New England from there. The Patriots outscored the Cowboys 24-3, although they did tack on a meaningless touchdown with 19 seconds left to make it look like a bigger blowout than it actually was. The truth is Dallas pushed New England more than any other team has this year. But in the end it was clear the Cowboys weren't in the Patriots' class.
"We have a lot of work to do," Dallas coach Wade Phillips said after the game. "We wanted to be one of the elite teams, and obviously we're not. We still have a lot of work to do before we get to that level."
A lot was made before the game between the matchup of premier receivers, Terrell Owens and Moss. Statistically, it was a dead heat. Six receptions, 59 yards and a touchdown for Moss, and six receptions, 66 yards and a score for Owens. T.O. didn't talk to the media all week, instead putting a note up in his locker telling everyone he would talk about Moss after the game. But when asked to give his assessment on how Moss played, Owens quickly responded, "Next question."
When pushed on the subject and asked if he were embarrassed, T.O. said, "Not at all. I come to play every week. I did that just to prevent some of the questions you keep asking me about the other 81. It's not me against him. It's a team game. ... It's over. We lost. I hope the game lived up to the hype. Next question."
Moss said he really didn't get caught up in Owens' antics. Instead he just focused on football.
"I don't really get into that. I just wanted to come out there and do what I could to help my team win this game," he said. "I didn't really want to really feed off what he was saying or the hype of a game between two 81s. I have a job to do, that's to go out there and try to catch touchdowns and get first downs, and that's what I tried to do today."
While the receivers were the talk before the game, the star that shined the brightest on Sunday was Brady. He threw for 388 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes. Through the first six games, Brady has thrown an eye-popping 21 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He's not only the front-runner to win league MVP, Brady is also on pace to break Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record of 49.
"I haven't thought about it at all," Brady said about the record. "Really. I don't set my goals like that. That's not what our team is all about. I'd love to set plenty of team records."
On Sunday, the Patriots did what they normally do to wannabe contenders: They put the Cowboys in their place. When Phillips took the podium for his press conference, he began by saying of the Patriots, "Well, they are that good."
--The Patriots scored 48 points Sunday, marking their highest point total in nearly 23 years. The last time the Patriots scored 48 points or more was on Nov. 18, 1984, when they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 50-17. The 48 points are tied for the sixth-highest single-game total in franchise history.
--In his 100th career start, QB Tom Brady set a career high with five touchdown passes, tying the Patriots' single-game franchise record and becoming the first New England player to achieve the feat since Steve Grogan on Sept. 9, 1979. Vito "Babe" Parilli also threw five touchdowns in a game for the Patriots on two occasions -- on Oct. 15, 1967 and on Nov. 15, 1964. Brady had previously thrown four touchdown passes in a game on six occasions, most recently on Sept. 23 against Buffalo.
--With his fourth-quarter interception of Tony Romo, Junior Seau set a single-season career high with his third interception of the season. Seau's previous single-season high in his 18-year career was two interceptions, achieved six times, most recently in 2000. The previous week against Cleveland, Seau tied his single-game career high with two interceptions.
--WR Wes Welker had a career-high 11 receptions for a career-high 124 yards. His previous career high was 97 yards (on three receptions), achieved on Oct. 16, 2005, with the Miami Dolphins in a game at Tampa Bay. Welker's 11 receptions are tied for the sixth-highest single-game total in Patriots history and are the most by a Patriot since Troy Brown caught 11 passes on Nov. 10, 2002, against the Chicago Bears at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. Welker's previous single-game career high for receptions was nine, achieved with the Dolphins against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 8, 2006.
--SS Rodney Harrison sacked Tony Romo for an 11-yard loss on third down in the first quarter, moving the Cowboys back to their own 8-yard line and forcing a punt on the next play. The sack raised Harrison's career total to 29.5, a mark that is the highest in NFL history for a defensive back dating to when sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Carnell Lake ranks second among NFL defensive backs with 25.0 career sacks. Harrison, who has also recorded 32 career interceptions, is the only player in NFL history to total at least 25 career sacks and at least 30 career interceptions.
--WR Randy Moss when asked to choose between Brady and Daunte Culpepper: "Tom Brady, hands down. I don't say that because I'm here with Tom. I've always been a big fan of Tom Brady's. I've always had a saying that Peyton Manning has his wide receivers, why can't Tom have his? Now that Tom has his, we'll see."
Over/ Under: Pats vs Dolphins