Saturday, October 15, 2011
'Boys try to halt Pats scoring machine
By Daniel Riccio
The New England Patriots and their high-powered offense host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in a marquee AFC-NFC matchup.
The Patriots have scored 30-or-more points in 13 straight regular season games dating back to last year, one shy of the NFL record set by the 1999-00 St. Louis Rams. The last team to hold the Patriots under 30 points in the regular season was the Browns in Week 9 of 2010, a defense coached by current Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan.
The offense has been fueled by a Tom Brady-led passing attack which leads the league in touchdowns through the air since the start of the 2010 season. Not surprisingly, Brady has also posted the highest Total Quarterback Rating in the NFL at 75.0 over the last two seasons.
On Sunday Brady will face one of his stiffest tests during the streak, going against a Cowboys pass defense that has allowed a Total QBR of 29.1 this year, which ranks second among all NFL teams behind only the Ravens.
Brady has consistently been one of the top passers in the league, and this year leads all quarterbacks with 1,874 passing yards.
But there is one key difference in the Patriots passing game plan this year, as Brady is throwing the deep ball like no other season before.
Through the first five weeks, Brady leads the NFL in completions and yards on throws of 11-or-more yards downfield, and has 11 pass plays of 30-plus yards, which is tied for the NFL lead with Aaron Rodgers.
The Cowboys secondary, however, matches up well with Brady’s air-it-out passing attack. The Dallas defense is allowing just 8.7 yards per attempt on throws that travel 11 yards or more, good for fifth among NFL teams.
Brady won’t be the only quarterback to watch on Sunday, as many eyes (especially those in Texas) will be focused on the play of Tony Romo, who has had a roller-coaster season so far.
While his play has been fairly consistent in the first through the first three quarters, he’s played either like an MVP or a practice squad player in final 15 minutes.
The good news for Cowboys fans is that if the team can keep it close through three quarters, Romo might have a chance win the game late. He’ll be facing a Patriots defense that is allowing a Total QBR of 88.1 in the fourth quarter, which is by far the worst mark in the NFL.