Cowboys 38, Patriots 3 – Embarrassing performance from offense leads to blowout loss

Image courtesy of Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Disaster. Abysmal. Embarrassing.

It’s the only way to describe the Patriots’ 38-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in Dallas. The defense gave up just two touchdowns, but Mac Jones turned the ball over three times and was pulled for Bailey Zappe in the third quarter.

New England is now 1-3 again and the questions will certainly start to swirl regarding both Jones and head coach Bill Belichick. Trailing 28-3 at the half, it was the largest halftime deficit for any team Belichick has ever coached.

Is a change being made tomorrow? Of course not. It’s not going to happen this season. But, the performance on Sunday was one from a team that has no answers right now. If not for Zach Wilson, this would be an 0-4 team. At some point, the defense has to start side-eying Jones and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. It’s human nature and that unit has been asked to dig its heels in while the team is behind almost immediately every week, aside from the Jets game last Sunday.

Things aren’t great in Foxborough right now.

“Don’t know about his job status,” said Deatrich Wise when asked about possible conversations about Belichick’s job security popping up this week. “I’m not the GM or the owner…I don’t know what anyone’s talking about, but he’s a great coach. We’re behind him.”

“I think we’re a lot better team than we showed out there tonight, but that’s what it showed,” added Belichick.

Dallas won the toss, took the ball and marched 74-yards in 10 plays, but had to settle for a chip shot field goal after miscommunication on 3rd-&-goal. Poor tackling throughout the drive assisted Dallas in getting down inside the 10, but their red zone struggles continued.

A huge catch and run for DeMario Douglas on third down – including a ridiculous spin move – resulted in a 42-yard gain on the Patriots’ opening drive. Three plays later facing 3rd-&-1 at the five, Jones (12-21, 150) just missed Mike Gesicki for a TD and New England answered with a field goal of its own to make it a 3-3 game with 6:41 left in the first.

There was hope this would be a game. Not for long.

The Cowboys came right back with another methodical, balanced 10-play drive that took 5:11 off the clock and ended with CeDee Lamb hauling in a 20-yard touchdown over Myles Bryant just one play after Christian Gonzalez sustained a shoulder injury making a tackle and he did not return. A few big runs for Zeke and a great grab over the middle for Gesicki ended the first with the Pats on the move again out to midfield.

Facing 3rd-&-15 moments later, JuJu Smith-Schuster hauled in a 14-yard catch in traffic, setting up a 4th-&-1 sneak attempt that was stuffed at the Dallas 40. Jones appeared to just sort of flop forward instead of driving for some extra yards. Impressively, the defense responded with a quick three-and-out that included a third down sack for Josh Uche and Wise. Great punt coverage and a false start one play later left the Pats offense backed up at the five. Two snaps later,  Jones tried to scramble, was stripped from behind and Leighton Vander Esch had the easiest 10-yard scoop-and-score of his life to put Dallas up 18-3 after a fake PAT conversion.

An ugly three-and-out followed as the Pats once again found themselves playing from behind in a two-score hole. Dallas took over at its own 22 and needed just five plays to reach the red zone. A few snaps after that, the Boys’ went up 21-3 on another field goal with 4:03 to go in the half.

The nightmare continued as New England worked towards midfield in the final minute, but Jones inexplicably threw across the field for the second time on the drive – the first time he was bailed out by Kendrick Bourne – and DaRon Bland came up with an easy 54-yard pick-six, jumping the play to push the lead to 25 just before halftime.

“For me, just not good enough, wasn’t my day,” said Jones. “Can’t turn the ball over like that and try and beat good teams. Definitely a lot to learn from. Definitely disappointed in myself. Feel like I can play a lot better and I have to to beat good teams.”

When asked about if he’s comfortable about his starting role status, Jones said it’ll be a good test.

“It’ll be a good test just for me trying to stay focused on what I can control, and that’s playing better.” he said.

Mac’s embarrassing performance continued on the first drive of the second half. Hunter Henry came up with a pretty one-handed catch on the first third down of the series, but facing 4th-&-2 at the Dallas 40, Jones was picked off again by Bland – making that three turnovers on the day. Dallas quickly moved into the red zone, but a Jahlani Tavai sack on third down just outside the 10 forced another field goal to make it 31-3.

At the 3:41 mark of the third, the defense admirably continued to battle and Wise came up with a fourth downs sack to force a turnover on downs. That’s when Bailey Zappe took over. Nothing changed as far as the scoreboard as both teams sort of went through the motions, but things did manage to get worse for New England as Matt Judon left the game in the final 11 minutes with an elbow injury. The FOX broadcast also showed Jabrill Peppers laying down in agony on the sideline after walking off following a stop.

“We come out every day to get a win, and when you don’t get that there’s always things you can look back and learn from,” said Zappe. “The good thing is, we have 13 more games to go here. You always have another opportunity next week to come out and fix the mistakes that we made and continue to improve. That’s the great part about football.”

Dallas made it a 35-point game with just over six minutes to go on a Hunter Luepke short rushing TD. The cherry on top late was a missed 52-yard field goal for Ryland.

Now, the Patriots come home with yet another must-win game already against a Saints defense that could pose some problems.

“We didn’t do anything well enough as a team. That’s everybody,” Belichick added.