By: Ian Logue/
November 17, 2003

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FOXBORO, MA -- Dallas may have left Foxboro with the NFL's top ranked defense, but it was the Patriots defense that ended up being the difference in the game after shutting out the Cowboys 12-0 in Foxboro on Sunday night.

With Richard Seymour, Ted Johnson, and Ted Washington all returning to the line-up on defense, New England did a much better job of shutting down the Dallas running game. Over the past three games their opponent's lead backs were averaging 92-yards per contest. Sunday night the Patriots defense held Cowboy's runningback Troy Hambrick to 41-yards on 16-carries (2.6 avg).

Meanwhile the Patriots' secondary took care of what little air attack Dallas tried to come at them with. They were able to get consistent pressure on Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter, despite the fact he was sacked just twice during the game. Carter found himself repeatedly flushed out of the pocket by Willie McGinest and forced him to have to make a play.

While Carter was able to make a few plays, eventually the Patriots defense got the better of him.

They were able to force three turnovers, and also stopped the Cowboys' drives when it counted. Of the 12 times Dallas had the ball, seven of those drives ended with a punt, while three others ended in an interception. The defense resembled the familiar, "bend don't break" philosophy that Patriots fans have been accustomed to seeing. Looking at the stats for the first half the Cowboys held the ball for an astounding 18:30, nearly twice what New England had totaled.

But when it came down to making a play when they needed to, the Patriots defense was able to do just that. In the end they pitched their first shutout since 1996 when they blanked the Arizona Cardinals in Foxboro back on Sept. 15, 1996 during a 31-0 win.

The one major threat of the night came as Dallas was trailing 9-0 and threatening to get back into the game late in the 3rd quarter. The Cowboys found themselves with 1st-and-10 at the Patriots 19-yard line and appeared to have momentum. However cornerback Ty Law got the better of Dallas tight end Jason Witten after Carter was pressured by McGinest. On the play Carter scrambled to his right and threw on the run to Witten, but threw it a little behind him and the ball went off his hands and into the waiting arms of Law.

"I thought maybe there late in the third quarter when we had that one decent drive in there, if we could have gotten on the board there we might have made it close," Dallas head coach Bill Parcells told reporters after the game. "But as happened all night, we just kind of self destructed."

"It was a good play by Ty Law, but it was a little bad luck (on our part) too."

On their next possession facing a 4th-and-1 at midfield, they tried to give the ball to Hambrick, but Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi broke through the Cowboys offensive line and dropped him in the backfield for a 2-yard loss, giving the ball back to New England.

It then took Dallas just two plays on their next possession to turn the ball over after Carter was intercepted by Tyrone Poole. New England then put together a 9-play 36-yard drive in which they held the ball for nearly 5 ½ minutes. The drive ended with a 26-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri for the Patriots final points of the evening.

Dallas was able to put together one final drive on their ensuing possession where they got down to the Patriots 19, but Carter was again picked off and time expired.

"I think this team has just taken on the theme each of week of doing what we need to do," Belichick told reporters after the game. "[We] just find a way to win."