Looking Ahead

Brady's Patriots matched the 1990s Cowboys' three titles in four years.

WHAT: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 16, 3:05 p.m. (CT)
WHERE: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
SERIES: Cowboys lead series, 7-3

  • Bill Belichick and Jason Garrett - Heard from colleagues that the two head coaches have quite a lot in common. Garrett might smile a little bit more (OK, a lot more) than Belichick, but their coaching styles have similarities. They're bright, organized, direct and demanding. They run tight ships. Belichick's among the best in league history. Garrett's career is just getting started. * Rob Ryan's rings - He won two with New England (2001, 2003) as their linebackers coach before he got his first NFL defensive coordinator job in Oakland. Outside of the Ryan family, Belichick is one of his influences. * Mike Woicik - Perhaps the most underrated contributor to six world championships between the Cowboys and Patriots over the last 20 years, the once and future Cowboys strength coach has developed a winning formula for players' physical preparation and sustainability during the season. * Championship tradition - The Cowboys and Patriots are the only teams ever to win three Super Bowls in four years. The Cowboys' drought is longer, as is their climb back to the top based on last year's 6-10 record. The Patriots went 14-2 and lost in the AFC Divisional Round. * Stopping Tom Brady - The Cowboys couldn't do it in two previous meetings, and if Brady plays anywhere close to last year's MVP level, he'll be tough to contain. The Patriots are 66-12 at home since 2001, Brady's first year as a starter. Match-Up Worth Watching:
    Wes Welker chewed up the Cowboys secondary in 2007, catching a game-high 11 passes from Brady for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys' current nickel corner, will probably draw Welker often in the slot. If he's healthy, Welker will challenge the Cowboys all day.

Patriots' Draft Review:
The Cowboys took Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick, and at No. 17, New England selected another offensive tackle that the Cowboys valued highly: Colorado's Nate Solder. Defensive back Ras-I Dowling (second round) could bolster the secondary, and running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley (second and third rounds) form a youth movement in the backfield with Danny Woodhead. Quarterback Ryan Mallett (fourth round) drew the most attention among the Patriots' seven total draft picks. A first-round talent whose stock dropped due to character concerns, Mallett will get to learn behind a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Problem is, he won't play anytime soon.

Last Meeting:
The battle of the unbeatens on Oct. 14, 2007 wasn't quite as lopsided as the final score. New England actually trailed 24-21 early in the third quarter, but outscored the Cowboys by 24 to win easily at Texas Stadium, 48-27. Brady had 388 passing yards and a then career-high five touchdowns, while Tony Romo had 199 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Patriots moved to 6-0 during their unprecedented 16-0 regular season, and the Cowboys (5-1) would go on to tie a franchise record with 13 wins.

One To Remember:
One of only 10 all-time meetings with the Patriots also was among the most memorable games ever for the Cowboys franchise. On Oct. 24, 1971, Texas Stadium opened against New England. Roger Staubach threw two touchdown passes to Bob Hayes as the Cowboys rolled, 44-21. Their streak would continue: the Cowboys won all six games at Texas Stadium that year, including the NFC Championship against San Francisco, on the way to their first Super Bowl title.

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