After two quarters in Texas, the Patriots hold a 13-3 lead on the Cowboys. Here are a few quick notes:
Despite being sacked five times, Tom Brady is still 10-for-16 for 110 yards. Dion Lewis had four carries for 29 yards and three catches for 30 yards. In addition, Julian Edelman had three catches for 61 yards.
It started as a relatively quiet first half offensively, but the first touchdown of the half came with just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter when Brady plunged over from the 1-yard line to make it 10-3. That was the capper on a 7-play, 55-yard drive that took 2:18, and was highlighted by some sizable pickups from Edelman (16-yard reception) and Lewis (13-yard run).
On the other side of the ball, Brandon Weeden is 7-for-13 for 36 yards. Joseph Randle has nine carries for 30 yards.
To open things up, the Patriots were able to connect on a 21-yard pass play over the middle, but could not turn that into points, as Rolando McClain came away with a big 3rd down sack to push the Patriots out of field goal range, forcing a New England punt. The Patriots got on the board first when Stephen Gostkowski banged home a 49-yarder to make it 3-0 roughly halfway through the first quarter. Dallas evened things at three on the following drive after a nice sustained sequence that was kept alive by a couple of ill-timed penalties on the part of New England, and ended with a 51-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.
In all, the Cowboys offense was wildly ineffective, as Dallas ran just three plays in Patriots’ territory and had six 3-and-outs in the first two quarters.
Greg Hardy was a disruptive presence for much of the first half with one sack and numerous appearances in the New England backfield. The Dallas pass rush was really impressive in the early going off the edge against the likes of Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, consistently harassing Brady throughout the first two quarters, coming away with five sacks and making it really tough on the Patriots to get any sort of traction in the passing game.
Patriots punter Ryan Allen was an under-the-radar star for New England in the first half with some nice punts that forced every Dallas drive in the first two quarters to start at or inside its’ own 20-yard line. His best kick came in the second quarter when he unloaded a 60-yarder that flipped the field and forced the Cowboys to punt from deep in their own territory. The Patriots scored the only touchdown of the first half on the next drive.
The Patriots finished the scoring when Gostkowski added a 57-yard field goal with three seconds left to take the game to halftime.