FOXBORO (CBS) — The NFL season is six weeks old, and the Patriots still do not have a win on their home field. They’ve had four opportunities to win at Gillette Stadium, and they’ve come up short in all of them.
The Patriots are now 0-4 in Foxboro for the first time since 1993. New England’s latest home loss was a heartbreaker, with the Pats falling to the Cowboys 35-29 in overtime on Sunday afternoon. It was an otherwise awesome game of football, with both teams putting on quite the show in the final few minutes of regulation.
But a loss is a loss, and they’re now piling up for the 2-4 Patriots. The Patriots gave the Cowboys everything they had and went toe-to-toe in an offensive shootout, but they still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. You only get so many “moral victories” in a season, and the Patriots have already used up their quota for the year.
There were several positives from Sunday’s defeat, but a lot more negatives. Let’s take a look at the Ups and Downs from New England’s latest loss.
Not a great afternoon for the defensive back, who received a nice payday from the Patriots during the offseason. Mills gave up a 24-yard reception to CeeDee Lamb on a third-and-25 play late in the game, setting up a 49-yard, game-tying field goal from Greg Zuerlein. Those are the kinds of plays the Patriots need to stop, but Mills was absolutely beat on the play.
Then he got torched on Lamb’s game-winning 35-yard touchdown in overtime. Bad day for Jalen Mills. Real bad day.
The Patriots paid Agholor some big money over the offseason to play like a No. 1 receiver. He hasn’t done that so far, and on Sunday, he had one of those famous Agholor drops that Philly fans bemoaned about so often.
It was a HUGE drop, coming on New England’s first — and only — possession of overtime. Mac Jones went his way over the middle on his first pass of OT, and Agholor had a wide open field in front of him. He likely would have set New England up in field goal territory had he caught the ball.
But he dropped it, and a few plays later, the Patriots punted it to Dallas. That punt came after another INC to Agholor, where he had his face mask tugged by Anthony Brown — a call that was missed by the officials. But Agholor put up no fight after the missed call, and the game moved on. At least until Dallas ended it with that Dak Prescott bomb to Lamb.
Zero Pass Rush
New England’s pass rush has been really good this season, but they put very little pressure on Prescott on Sunday. That was mostly by design, but the Patriots had zero sacks on the afternoon and hit Prescott just four times.
The Dallas QB took full advantage of all the time he had in the pocket, throwing for 445 yards and three touchdowns.
Talk about a soul-crushing play — or what could have been a soul-crushing play. The Patriots just had to kill the clock with a 21-20 lead ahead of the two-minute warning. But Mac Jones went looking for Kendrick Bourne over the middle and only found his fingertips. The ball went right to Trevon Diggs, and the corner (and former college teammate of Jones) took it 42 yards to the house for the go-ahead score for Dallas.
Ouch. Jones and crew got the ball back with 2:21, which you will read all about in the Ups.
Meyers Touchdown Nullified
Jakobi Meyers is still waiting for his first career touchdown. It looked like he finally had one early in the second quarter, but a nice 25-yard catch-and-run score was taken off the board because of an offensive holding call on Justin Ferentz.
To make matters worse… well just read the next down.
Jones was strip-sacked the very next play and the Cowboys took over. It was also the kind of hit that you really don’t want to see your quarterback taking, but one that Jones has been taking quite a bit this season.
Dallas defense comin'… #DallasCowboys
— NFL (@NFL) October 17, 2021
Randy Gregory absolutely schooled Yodny Cajuste on the play and then put a lick on Jones that likely caused a blip on the Richter scale. And just like that, the Patriots went from a touchdown to a turnover. Not great.
Jake Bailey had never had a punt blocked entering the season. And now it’s happened twice in the last three weeks.
Dallas sent back a Bailey punt late in the second quarter and took over at the New England 17. They got no points out of the possession when Prescott fumbled at the goal line.
But the play illustrates more leakage on New England’s special teams unit. The Patriots hadn’t allowed a blocked punt in the last five years heading into this season, so two in the matter of a few weeks is a troubling trend.
A pick-six to potentially lose the game can’t feel great. But Mac Jones shook it off and on his very next pass, hit Bourne for a 75-yard touchdown strike. Who says the kid can’t sling it down the field?!?!?
Go crazy @BournePoly11!!!!!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 17, 2021
That was the longest pass of Jones’ young NFL career. It was the longest pass by a Patriots quarterback in four seasons.
More importantly, it shows just how short of a memory the kid possesses. What a way to bounce back after Diggs’ pick-six.
Fourth Down Stand
Dallas went for it on fourth-and-1(ish) at their own 34 on their first possession and the Patriots came up with a MONSTER stop on the play. Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty swallowed up Ezekiel Elliott for no gain on the play, giving the Patriots a golden opportunity to score early.
And score early they did, as Damien Harris took a direct snap into the end zone three plays later to give New England an early 7-0 lead. Now THAT is what we call complementary football. If only there were more of it throughout the game…
At least one of New England’s prized tight end signings is playing well. Hunter Henry made an awesome diving catch in the end zone off a nice play action pass from Mac Jones on a seam route to give the Pats a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.
Henry now has touchdown grabs in three straight games.
Home Win Upcoming?
At least the 1-4 Jets are coming to town next weekend. If the Patriots can’t beat them in Foxboro, they may not win a home game all year.