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Short Fields & No Turnovers Spoil Defensive Effort


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Even the great Tom Brady couldn't do it. 

The only quarterback in NFL history to win six Super Bowl rings and viewed by many as the greatest QB of all time, and still Brady had trouble driving his offense the length of the field for points.

But the reality was - he didn't have to. And yet the Patriots still found a way to win.

The Cowboys' defense did a solid job against Brady and the Pats, but when New England managed to start a drive on a short field, it proved to be the difference in the game.

The Patriots had to punt on their first two drives and barely moved it past midfield. But after blocking a punt, their third drive began on the Cowboys' 12. It took two plays to score a touchdown.

On the next drive, an interception by Stephon Gilmore set up the Patriots on the Cowboys' 29 and led to a field goal.

"With the blocked punt and the interception in the minus territory, they were the big plays early on in the game that gave them their scoring opportunities," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought our defense did a good job of making them drive the football throughout the game. Did a really good job of just slowing that offense down."

The only other scoring drive for the Patriots the rest of the game was after two special teams penalties by the Cowboys gave New England the ball at their 38. Brady managed to get the offense into range for Nick Folk to make a 42-yard field goal to give the Patriots at 13-6 lead. 

And that was really all the Patriots could do. They only had 282 offensive yards and were just 3 of 14 on third-down conversions.

The Cowboys' defense got to Brady at times, getting him down twice for sacks and a handful of other times with heavy pressure. The team also had seven tackles for loss.

But they couldn't get off the field on those short fields, and that proved to be the difference.

"Obviously the quarterback is the best ever that ever was and they got a lot of really good players on that side of the ball," Garrett said of Brady, who was 17 of 30 for 190 yards and a touchdown. "So I thought the defense really stepped up, really throughout the game. And unfortunately, we didn't enough to score points to win it on our end."