Patriots have become a gritty, soggy, tough team
Sunday was a day and a night fit for neither man nor beast.
Perfect for the new New England Patriots.
Therse are not your older brother’s Patriots, and certainly not your father’s Patriots. In a lot of ways, they aren’t really even Tom Brady’s Patriots, which is why he’s been pouting a bit.
“I think every team developes at different times and so forth” Brady said after another gritty 13-9 win in which he threw for just 190 yards but a TD to rookie N’Keal Harry. “I think we just take the challenges as they come and try to do the best we can.
“It was a great win. They’re a good football team and happy we came away with more point than them.”
Brady was somewhere in between his funeral-like Eagles press conference and one after his team racks up 30 points with him throwing for three TDs. Again, he didn’t talk for long.
But he knows the deal. These Patriots will wait for you to make mistakes, and rest assured, teams will make them – especially ones coached by Jason Garrett.
This one team on Sunday, allowing a Matthew Slater blocked punt and Stephon Gilmore interception leading to 10 Patriot points. The Cowboys also made a few more, mainly in the form of dumb penalties that possibly cost them from putting more points on the board.
Mistakes are made by an opposing offense and special teams, and New England’s superior defense and special teams units will eat them for lunch.
And eventually the Patriots will wear them down.
Things followed that plan on Sunday. Talented football players come into Gillette with great auras, and turn to mush. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who received great praise from Bill Belichick earlier in the week, looked less than dazzling – and on the rare occasions when he did, his team would commit a dumb penalty or two to negate a good play.
It had to be brutal out there. But the Patriots made the best of it.
“We play in it in practice,” Gilmore said. “So it’s nothing, OK?”
In fact, if Sunday’ weather was on, say, Thursday, Gilmore said no comfy cozy heated bubble for practice.
“We would’ve been (out) in practice. … You’ve got be able to play in anything. That’s how we’re able to make plays. It was cold, it was rainy, you’ve got to be able to play in anything in this game.”
“The bottom line is that was a tough challenge,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Yes, one his team wasn’t up to meeting.
“They (the Patriots) know how to play this game, certainly in this weather. Their team was masterful, their coach was masterful (uh-oh, Garrett). They did it on special teams and that wasn’t an accident, that was by design. … We knew it was going to be a tough challenge for us, probably exacerbated by the weather.”
The Cowboys couldn’t handle the football, especially on special teams. They’ll probably look great on Thanksgiving in the palacial AT&T Stadium, but in the windswept rain at Gillette, they couldn’t get in the end zone.
Consider this: Brady at least got the Patriots six points with rookie receivers N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers as his main targets. Prescott had the likes of Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Ezekiel Elliott, and Jason Witten.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Nothing, if you consider just how tough this Patriots defense has been against offenses not quarterbacked by Lamar Jackson.
“They’re a good team, and it was frustrating,” Dallas running back Elliott said. “We just have to find a way to score.”
The Patriots special teams, as Jones alluded, are a weapon. With just 2:38 left in the 13-9 game, punter Jake Bailey nailed the Cowboys to their 8-yard line.
All of this offsets the glamorous attack we’re used to seeing, but partly because there’s nothing glamorous on a day like yesterday. As Belichick said, “Taking care of the ball was critical. … Taking care of the ball is agenda number one.”
But these Patriots may be even more in the mold Belichick likes to create.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” he said. “We had a lot of guys step up today, played well and made enough plays in all three phases of the gae. Got plays in the kicking game, offensive, defensively. Really played a complimentary game, the way we need to play it against a good football team like this.
They are now the new New England Patriots, still 10-1, just finding ways to win.
Let’s see how far they can go.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or firstname.lastname@example.org