FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – All week long, I just couldn't figure out how the Patriots were going to play this game close.
I know the Cowboys haven't won there since Ronald Reagan was president. I know Bill Belichick is still their coach and still the GOAT.
But on paper, I couldn't see any way the Cowboys didn't blow them out – unless of course they decided to beat themselves.
Well, cue the music.
It was a missed block here, dropped pass there and then a penalty flag, here, there and everywhere. Oh yeah, Dak throws a pick in the red zone. Then he fumbles from the 1 after four failed runs from the 1-yard line. Are you kidding? And yeah, before you scream at me that "he got in on third down," just know the NFL replay officials didn't think so and probably wouldn't haven't overturned it anyway.
So after two quarters of football, the Cowboys were doing everything possible to keep the Patriots in the game.
And it was just 14-10.
That should've told everyone out there – on both sidelines – just how different these two teams are talent-wise.
The Patriots were playing a great game. The Cowboys were playing like something you don't want to step in.
And it was just a four-point game. You just knew, if they somehow figured out how to clean up this mess on Aisle 9, they're roll out of here with a big win.
Well, I wouldn't say they cleaned it up – it was more like they just put down a few paper towels and rubbed it in with their feet.
But either way, the Cowboys stopped the mess from spreading and figured out to turn the tide.
And that's what they did. They turned the tide, then it turned back, then they turned it again and again and that's how the game got to overtime.
But guess what? When it got to the "fifth" quarter, the better team certainly rose to the challenge.
The defense stiffened and got off the field, forcing a really short punt. And when they took over the 20-yard line, you just knew Dak Prescott – bad calf and all – would find a way to drive the offense.
And it was clockwork, with everyone getting involved. Zeke with a run, CeeDee with a first-down catch. Then Schultz, Cooper, Pollard and CeeDee again before .. the big one.
I loved the fact the Cowboys weren't settling for another field goal by Zuerlein, who had just nailed a 49-yarder to force overtime.
But in this case, let's keep the foot on the gas and go win the game.
The Cowboys did just that, taking it to the Patriots when the game was on the line.
I mean, good teams find a way to win despite its best effort.
But great teams, now those are the teams that find a way to win despite a plethora of mistakes.
And I don't need to list them all. We might break the internet if we tried to type them all out here.
It was one thing after another, giving you that feeling that the Cowboys were down by two touchdowns, maybe three. But that wasn't the case because they just kept hanging around.
Now, it was about to be a 14-point deficit in the second quarter when the Patriots threw a touchdown pass but somehow were called for holding.
Now, I'm usually not one that gets too worked up about bad calls here and there because they eventually work themselves out. But at that point in the game, it wasn't evening out at all.
The Cowboys were winning 7-0. No, not on the scoreboard but in penalties.
Once that started to even out, the score did as well. But after that New England TD that came off the board, Randy Gregory delivered one of the hardest hits I've seen in a while, crushing Mac Jones, who fumbled the ball away. To be honest, I'm kind of impressed he got up and kept playing and he actually impressed me a lot with his play throughout the game.
But still, he was a rookie who made rookie mistakes. That's why the Cowboys just had to hang in there and clean up their own messes and let the game play out the way it did.
But even though Dallas finally took control, they found a way to give it back in the fourth quarter in what turned out to be the craziest game of see-saw ever.
Trevon Diggs – does it again with an interception that might have been one of his best. Not only is he catching the ball on a tip-drill, but hurdling the receiver on the ground so he could go score.
What an awesome play, but it didn't last. Who knows what Diggs and Kazee were doing on the next play, but before the NFL researchers could come up with all of their "Diggs is the first player since ...." stats, he gives up a long touchdown and the Cowboys are down again.
But that's when they turned it up. Down 29-26 in the final two minutes, that's when the Cowboys became that great football team once again.
Great teams drive down the field. They overcome yet more penalties and continue to make plays to get the necessary field goal.
They get to overtime, make the stop, get the ball, and go win the game.
Doesn't matter if it was ugly. Doesn't matter if they should've won by more points.
Those guys in Las Vegas who get paid to be right, they knew it would be close and it was.
But the Cowboys won this game because they found a way. They found out how to win in spite of themselves. They found a way to come together with their backs against the wall.
More than anything, they found a damn broom to clean up this mess they had created the first half of the game.
But they did it all, because this team is different. This team has a chance to be great.
Even on the days when they aren't.