On the road. In a place where you hadn't won since 1987. Against a future hall of fame head coach. Who cares if it was ugly? Who cares if it was wild? Who cares if it was a roller coaster of emotions? A win is a win.
And boy, what a win it was.
The Dallas Cowboys, on an oftentimes frustrating afternoon, went into New England and came away with a 35-29 overtime victory over Bill Belichick and the Patriots. In all, the Cowboys turned the ball over twice in the red zone, committed 12 penalties for 115 yards and converted only 23 percent of their third down opportunities.
But in the end, they did what they needed to do, getting a field goal from Greg Zuerlein with less than a minute remaining to send the game to overtime before CeeDee Lamb capped off his career day with a 35-yard touchdown to seal the victory.
Overall, the Cowboys ran 32 plays to New England's 17, finished with 567 total yards of offense to the home side's 335, and posted a time of possession of 39:27 to 26:51. And fortunately, they also came out on top where it mattered most – on the scoreboard.
The Cowboys' running game struggled at times, totaling 122 yards with Ezekiel Elliot earning just 69. He did surpass 1,500 career rushing attempts during the day, the third most in team record books and only the 15th NFL player to do so in his first 77 games.
Yet he also added 50 receiving yards as part of all-around aerial effort. Dak Prescott completed 70.6 percent of his passes for 445 yards, the sixth-highest total of his career, with three touchdowns for a passer rating of 108.7.
And Lamb was the big beneficiary of that offensive onslaught as he hauled in nine passes for a 149 receiving yards, both personal bests, with two touchdown catches for the second multi-score game of his young career. In addition, he tied Herschel Walker as the fastest Cowboys to 100 career receptions, doing so in just 22 games. Altogether, Prescott connected with eight different receivers in the win.
For the first time this season, the Cowboys gave up two touchdowns in the first quarter, a start that would put them in a 14-7 hole.
Nothing went right for the team on its opening possession. A penalty on the kickoff put them at their own 12-yard line to start, which was followed by a questionable holding call on Tyron Smith as well as a questionable non-call on a potential late hit on Prescott. Dallas was then stopped short on both third- and fourth-and-1 at its own 34-yard line to turn the ball over on downs. Head coach Mike McCarthy challenged the spot after the second attempt, but it was to no avail, the Cowboys also losing a timeout in the process.
Given the great field position, the Patriots needed only three plays to reach the end zone. Running back Damien Harris broke off a 21-yard gain to open the series before getting the ball two snaps later for the 4-yard score.
But after that disappointing beginning, the Cowboys got rolling. Perhaps having learned a lesson, they took to the air this time around. Prescott was good on all six pass attempts, including completions of 18 and 17 yards to tight end Dalton Schultz and receiver Amari Cooper, respectively. Tight end Blake Jarwin got the scoring honors, though, bringing in a 1-yard pass from Prescott to tie things up.
Unfortunately, the Patriots showed no signs of slowing down themselves, needing only four plays to travel 75 yards to the goal line. Completions of 14, 22 and 20 yards did the damage, the last a Jones pass to tight end Hunter Henry for the touchdown.
Prescott finished the first 15 minutes with 161 passing yards, the most in the opening quarter in the NFL this season and the third most in the first frame in franchise history.
The Cowboys just couldn't seem to stop hurting themselves, reaching the red zone three times in the second quarter but failing to score a touchdown, and even worse, turning the ball over twice.
They went on a lengthy 13-play drive that ate up 7:02 of clock and reached the New England 16-yard line. But on third-and-9, Prescott tried to thread one into wideout Cedrick Wilson in the end zone, only to have the pass tipped away and instead land in the waiting arms of safety Kyle Dugger.
On their ensuing drive, the Patriots appeared to have their third touchdown of the game only to have the play negated by their first penalty. It was defensive end Randy Gregory's aggressiveness that drew the holding call, which was immediately followed on the next snap by Gregory actually getting to the quarterback and not only sacking Mac Jones but forcing a fumble as well. The prize was recovered by rookie Chauncey Golston to end the threat and give Dallas the ball at its own 48-yard line.
The Cowboys nearly had a touchdown on their next series, but Wilson wasn't able to hold on to a 12-yard pass to in the right corner of the end zone. That left Zuerlein to kick a 30-yard field goal, Dallas now down by four.
And then the tide seemed to turn. The Dallas defense forced a New England punt after a quick three-and-out, but special teamer Luke Gifford broke through the middle of the line and blocked Jake Bailey's punt attempt. Gifford also grabbed the bouncing ball and then took it to the Patriots' 17-yard line. It was the Cowboys' first blocked punt since Donnie Jones turned the trick at Philadelphia on Sept. 20, 2015.
Dallas even got down to the 1-yard line and on a third-down attempt to cross the goal line, Prescott appeared to get in. But the officials ruled him down, no gain. The Cowboys then went for it on fourth down, but this time Prescott lost control of the ball as he attempted to dive over the top, and New England recovered the fumble in the end zone, the score remaining 14-10 at the break.
The teams traded punts early in the third quarter before Dallas finally found its offensive groove. Starting at their own 9-yard line at the 9:18 mark of the frame, Prescott and company worked their way down the field with the quarterback hitting Elliott for 18 yards, Noah Brown for 27 and Schultz for 20 more. Lamb eventually earned the score, a 1-yard pass from Prescott that was the 2,500th touchdown in franchise history and the most in the NFL since 1960.
As the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter, Dallas was on the move again. They caught a break when Wilson recovered his own fumbled punt return, but after that, Prescott sliced up the Patriots secondary with Lamb picking up 13, Elliott 12 and then Lamb again going for a big 33-yard gain. They reached the New England 27-yard line, but had to settle for a 45-yard Zuerlein field goal.
But just when Dallas seemed to have control of the game, the Patriots figured something out. After basically being unable to do much of anything since the first quarter, New England turned to its rushing attack, running the ball eight times in 13 plays, chewing up 6:50 of clock. Rhamondre Stevenson bulled his way in from the 1-yard line to give the Patriots the score and the 21-20 lead with 6:23 remaining.
Dallas had a chance to go back ahead and Prescott got his troops into field goal range at the Patriots' 33-yard line. But Zuerlein's 51-yard attempt sailed wide left, leaving any chance for a victory in the hands of the Cowboys defense. They needed a stop.
Instead, they got so much more. That's when Trevon Diggs hauled in a Jones pass that was off the mark, the cornerback taking the interception back 42 yards for his second pick-six of the season. It also gave Diggs seven interceptions through six games, which tied Hall of Famer Rod Woodson (1993) for the most interceptions through six games in a season.
The celebration, though, didn't last long as on the Patriots very next snap, Diggs bit on a double-move by Kendrick Bourne who took in the Jones' pass and raced untouched 75 yards for the score. New England successfully converted the two-point conversion to grab a 29-26 lead.
But Dallas still had time, taking over with 2:05 left on the clock. That's when Prescott led his team 40 yards in nine plays, his pass to Lamb for 24 yards putting them at the Patriots' 31-yard line with 24 seconds left. Zuerlein then came out for a 49-yard field goal, his attempt good to send the game into overtime.
The Cowboys defense first did its part as they forced a punt on New England's opening possession of the extra frame. And then Prescott and Lamb went to work.
Starting at their own 20-yard line, the pair combined for three of the seven plays on the drive, connecting on passes of 14 yards, 7 for a first down and then a big 35-yarder that saw Prescott hit Lamb streaking deep across the middle, the receiver strutting in untouched for the game-winning touchdown.
While all three division opponents lost earlier in the day, the Cowboys earned their fifth straight win to take a commanding lead in the NFC East.