FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Dak Prescott needed a wardrobe change.
After badly missing Randall Cobb on a makeable third down in the second quarter against the Patriots, Prescott went to the sideline and grabbed a pair of gloves in hopes of combating the wet field conditions at Gillette Stadium.
"I struggled early in those first few series before I put the gloves on," he said. "I couldn't get a real grip on the ball, I wasn't driving the ball, and that's all me. That hurt the team. I missed some throws, obviously some wide-open throws to convert third downs so that we could continue to move. I can't do that."
It was that kind of day for Prescott and the offense in Sunday's 13-9 loss to New England. The league's top-ranked offense (28.6 points and 444.6 yards per game) produced 321 total yards and only three field goals against the Patriots' top-ranked defense.
One bright spot was running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ground out 86 tough yards on 21 carries. And Prescott (19-of-33, 212 yards, interception) did drive to the red zone twice. But the Cowboys settled for field goals on both trips.
In the fourth quarter, the offense finally got loose on Cobb's 59-yard catch and run – the game's longest play from scrimmage. Five plays later, facing third-and-7, Prescott found Blake Jarwin in the back of the end zone but the tight end couldn't get both feet in bounds.
The Cowboys had 13 third-down chances Sunday. They converted two.
Some of the credit must go to New England, which entered the game allowing an average of 10.8 points.
"They're as fundamentally sound a defense as I've studied in a long time," tight end Jason Witten said. "So you knew that coming in. They challenge you a lot of ways. … Their flexibility with their rush of linebackers playing edge, playing defensive tackle, tackles playing end, they mix it around."
Weather was a factor, too.
Prescott said he had only worn gloves in practice without rain and didn't expect they would provide help gripping the ball Sunday.
But he and the Cowboys didn't use the elements as an excuse. The Patriots' offense had to play in the same conditions, and quarterback Tom Brady completed only 17 of 37 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown. Prescott blamed his second-quarter interception on poor mechanics, not a wet ball.
And yet, the offense still had a chance to win the game in the final two minutes. After crossing their own 35, a tripping penalty on Travis Frederick forced them into third-and-long. On fourth down, Amari Cooper's 20-yard conversion was ruled incomplete by replay.
"For sure it's a missed opportunity, from the whole team and then for myself and this offense," Prescott said. "We had the ball in my hands and that's all I can ask for, the ball in my hands with the game on the line and just didn't get it done. Simple as that."