The Patriots appeared to have the upper hand in their tilt with the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon after Greg Zuerlein missed a 51-yard field goal. The kick sailed wide left with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter and the Patriots winning 21-20.
The Cowboys had all three of their timeouts and the two-minute warning to work with, but New England was running the ball well with Damien Harris. They just needed to get one first down and they would be able to put the Cowboys in a difficult time crunch or, potentially, run the clock out.
However, the Cowboys managed to come from behind twice in the final three minutes of the game to force overtime. From there, they emerged with a 35-29 road win thanks to a couple of big plays from their defense and countless strong throws from Dak Prescott and the offense.
Here’s a look at the big, momentum-shifting plays that occurred late in the Cowboys’ comeback win over the Patriots.
PATRIOTS VS. COWBOYS: Highlights, analysis from Dallas’ win
Trevon Diggs keeps interception streak, Cowboys alive with pick-six
Diggs got the fourth-quarter madness started. Damien Harris ran for no gain on first down before a delay of game penalty backed the Patriots up five yards. The Patriots then decided to pass on second-and-15 and the results were disastrous.
Mac Jones threw a slant pass that struck Kendrick Bourne in the hands and bounced right into Trevon Diggs’ arms. It marked Diggs’ sixth consecutive game with an interception to begin the year and his seventh overall.
Because Diggs had jumped the slant route, he had a clear lane to the left sideline. He followed that to the end zone for a touchdown.
That gave the Cowboys a 26-21 lead. They failed to convert the two-point conversion but ensured that the Patriots would need a touchdown in the final 2:21 to knock off the Cowboys.
Mac Jones strikes back with 75-yard TD to Kendrick Bourne
It took the Patriots all of 10 seconds to respond to Diggs’ big play. Jones and the New England offense got on the field and set up a pass play, once again to Bourne.
Jones had a clean pocket and was able to find Bourne between two defenders. He dropped the ball in perfectly and after the safety overran Bourne, the receiver was able to scamper to the end zone.
The Patriots’ two-point conversion was successful and put the team up 29-26. However, the team left 2:11 on the clock for the Cowboys to work with, and Dallas had three timeouts and the two-minute warning to play with.
RIVERA: Will the Lions bench Jared Goff?
Cedrick Wilson’s sideline catch
The Cowboys started the drive slowly and faced a fourth-and-4 in their own territory. Failing to convert meant that Dallas would have put the Cowboys in a tough position, essentially needing a three-and-out to guarantee a shot to win the game.
Prescott and Cedrick Wilson made sure that wouldn’t happen. Prescott managed to find Wilson with his pocket collapsing and put the ball high enough so only his receiver could get it. Wilson made the acrobatic grab and kept the Cowboys’ drive alive.
Dak Prescott completes 24-yard pass to CeeDee Lamb
The Cowboys were able to matriculate the ball downfield and worked it into field goal range. However, they were knocked out of it by an ill-timed unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As a result, they had a third-and-25 from their own 45 with 31 seconds left in the game.
Dallas needed to pick up significant yardage to have a shot at a game-tying field goal or to better position the team for a game-deciding fourth-down attempt. Prescott had almost three seconds in the pocket and was able to see CeeDee Lamb breaking in front of Jalen Mills near the first-down marker. Prescott fired it to him and Lamb elevated slightly to make the catch.
A better throw may have allowed Lamb to pick up the first down, but it was enough to put the team in field goal range.
Greg Zuerlein’s 49-yard field goal make
Mike McCarthy called timeout with 24 seconds left in the game to position Greg Zuerlein for a 49-yard field goal attempt. Zuerlein had missed from 51 shortly before, but he was true on his attempt. It wasn’t right down the middle but it never appeared to be in danger of missing.
Zuerlein’s previous miss had been to the left, so perhaps he was compensating for that. The make made it 29-29 with 20 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots ran the ball once on their ensuing possession and let the game go to overtime.
Referees miss an obvious facemask on Cowboys
The Patriots actually got the ball first in overtime but their drive stalled out on a third-and-3 when Jones failed to connect with Nelson Agholor on a pass out wide.
However, a closer look revealed that Agholor had been the victim of a facemask that the referees missed. The penalty went uncalled and the Patriots punted the ball to the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott finds CeeDee Lamb for 35-yard game-winner
After the Cowboys got the ball, they continued to move the ball with ease down the field against the Patriots. They didn’t even have to settle for a field-goal attempt to win it.
Dallas ran a play-action pass on first-and-10 that saw Prescott roll out to the right while the offensive line and running back slide to the left. Prescott held the ball for a few seconds before spying Lamb breaking open coming across the field.
Lamb had a couple of steps on Mills and nobody else was back to help him. The rest of the Patriots had all either gotten caught up in run support or were covering Prescott’s underneath targets.
That gave the Cowboys a 35-29 win, their fifth consecutively. The Patriots’ home crowd was certainly disappointed by the result, as both teams had chances to win in the final minutes of regulation and overtime, as you can see from Next Gen Stats’ win probabiltiy graph from the contest.