Here are the highlights from the fourth quarter:
Aaron Hernandez caught the game-winner on Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
– New England had a brutal turnover on their drive to start the fourth quarter after driving all the way down to Dallas’ 33 yard line. On the play Tom Brady rolled out to try and find Aaron Hernandez, but his arm was hit as he threw and he ended up being picked off by Dallas inside linebacker Sean Lee. That gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 32 yard line, and killed the Patriots drive.
– It only got worse from there, after Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson broke a tackle by Devin McCourty, and picked up 32 yards on the play. It was an uncharacteristically bad play for McCourty because as much as he’s struggled in coverage, he’s actually been one of the better open field tacklers on the team.
– Tough break on the next play. New England safety Patrick Chung came up to make an interception on a pass from Tony Romo to Kevin Ogletree, but ended up hitting him as the ball got there for quite a collision. He ended up taking the brunt of the impact and was banged up on the play. That reception took the ball down to the Patriots 10-yard line. Ross Ventrone came in for Chung, but according to reporters from the stadium he just got the wind knocked out of him.
– Great play by linebacker Brandon Spikes on an inside shovel pass from Tony Romo to Tashard Choice, and he wasn’t fooled. The play came on a 3rd and 5 at the Patriots 5 yard line, and it forced Dallas to only kick a field goal. With 5:16 to go it’s a great opportunity for New England to put together a game winning drive and close this one out.
– Not a great sequence on their next possession by the offense. On the first play they completed a 9-yard pick up on first down by Rob Gronkowski, but Green-Ellis lost 3 yards on 2nd down, and Brady threw incomplete to Aaron Hernandez on third down. It was just their 8th three and out of the season.
– Great job by the Patriots defense on Dallas’ ensuing possession, forcing a 3-and-out of their own to Dallas, and giving the Patriots another shot to answer with just under 3-minutes left in the game. The Dallas punt gave New England the ball at their own 20 after the punt and a 12 yard return by Wes Welker.
– New England began the drive with two completions to their tight ends, with Brady connecting with Hernandez for 16 followed by Gronkowski for an 11-yard pick up. After that he connected with Welker for 5 more, which took them to the Dallas 48 at the two minute warning.
From there Brady stayed in the no huddle, completing passes to Danny Woodhead for 9, an incompletion to Wes Welker, but then after a quarterback keeper for 2-yards to convert a crucial 3rd down, Brady found Woodhead for 13 yards, and followed that with a pass to Welker for 6 more which took them down to Dallas’ 8 yard line. With :27 left Brady then found Hernandez in the back of the endzone for the touchdown, putting new England up 20-16 in what would be the game winner.
– Final stats in this one found Tom Brady finishing 27-of-41 for 289 yards, 2 touchdowns, and two interceptions (QB Rating of 82.3). Of their 69 offensive plays (excluding penalties), they were in the shotgun 38 times, and in the no-huddle 37 times.
Your leading receivers were Hernandez, who caught 8 passes for 68 yards including his game winner, while Gronkowski had 7 catches for 74 yards, Wes Welker had 6 catches for 45, Deion Branch had 69 yards on 3 catches, while Danny Woodhead had 2 grabs for 22, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis had one catch for 11-yards.
– The running game was still solid but not as impressive as last week, with Green-Ellis finishing with 14-carries for 58 yards (4.1 avg). Stevan Ridley finished with 3 carries for 19-yards, while Brady actually was right behind him with 4 carries for 17 yards. Woodhead struggled in his first game back carrying the ball, rushing 4 times for just 7 yards.
We’ll have more in a bit, including press conference transcripts and more.