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Sunday, October 16, 2011
3 up, 3 down for the Patriots

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Three players whose performance stood out and three players whose performance was at the opposite end of the spectrum based on an initial reaction from the Patriots' 20-16 win over the Cowboys:

Up
Andre Carter
-- Defensive end finishes with five tackles and two sacks. His third-quarter sack is one of the key plays in the game, coming on second-and-goal from the 7 and forcing the Cowboys to settle for a field goal.

Brandon Spikes -- Linebacker plays in base and sub defenses and finishes with eight tackles and one quarterback hit. His biggest tackle comes in the fourth quarter on a shovel pass to Tashard Choice for a 3-yard loss on third-and-5, which forces a field goal. 

Gerard Warren -- Veteran defensive lineman makes an early impact, dropping Choice for a 3-yard loss, recovering a fumble, and drawing a holding penalty. His performance contributes to an overall solid day for the defense.

Down
Devin McCourty
-- Cornerback is struggling to find his Pro Bowl form. Normally a sure tackler, he has trouble with Laurent Robinson along the sideline on one play, giving up yards after the catch on a 32-yard gain. Overall, his coverage isn't as tight as we've seen in the past.

Matthew Slater -- Loses a fumble on a first-quarter kickoff return.

Nate Solder & pass protection --  Rookie right tackle is penalized for holding on a run play in the second quarter, contributing to a drive stalling in the red zone. Overall, the Cowboys win the battle at the line of scrimmage.