48 - 27 Final
  for this game

Brady tosses five TDs as Patriots throttle Cowboys

Oct 15, 2007 - 2:27 AM
By John Tranchina PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

IRVING, Texas (Ticker) - With the glare of the spotlights at their brightest, Tom Brady once again came through with one of his best performances.

In a matchup pitting two undefeated clubs against each other - just the fifth time in NFL history that had happened through five games - Brady completed 30-of-45 passes for 377 yards and a career-high five touchdowns to lead the New England Patriots to a 48-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The game was also a battle of the NFL's two most prolific offenses, but only New England (6-0) fully flexed its potent attack, surpassing its season average of 36.4 points.

"They showed why they're one of the better teams in football," Dallas linebacker Greg Ellis said. "We had a lot of mistakes, but you've got to give them credit, obviously. They took advantage of a lot of things and made a lot of plays. We just didn't perform the way we needed to perform today."

The Patriots have scored at least 34 points in each of their first six games, tying an NFL record set by the St. Louis Rams in 2000.

Brady also set a league mark by becoming the first quarterback to throw at least three TD passes in the first six games of the season.

"We really made the plays when we needed to," Brady said. "Down four in the third quarter, we responded and made some great plays. It was a great team win."

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo rebounded from a career-worst five-interception performance last Monday night in Buffalo to pass for 199 yards (18-of-29) with two touchdowns and one interception.

"It's difficult sometimes when you know you have to put points on the board," Romo said. "I found myself with that last year when we were always playing from behind, but that's part of it sometimes and sometimes what you have to do to win the game."

For the Patriots, Dante Stallworth hauled in seven passes for 136 yards, including a clinching 69-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave New England a 38-24 advantage.

Wes Welker added career highs with 11 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Welker entered the contest with one career TD reception and doubled that total in the first half, helping stake New England to an early 14-0 advantage.

"As far as the feel of the game and being able to make some plays in critical situations, it's definitely (one of my best games)," Welker said. "I had the ball in my hands a lot, at least a lot more than I usually do. I feel like when I was in there, I was able to make some plays."

Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, who has been under considerable scrutiny after posting just five catches over the last two games, also bounced back to record six receptions for a team-high 66 yards.

"There were some opportunities, with the excitement and giving me the ability to go out there and play with this group of guys," Owens said. "We know we are better than what we showed today. There was some opportunities for us and we didn't make the most of it. We need to eliminate some of the penalties."

With Patriots starting running back Laurence Maroney sitting out with a groin injury and his replacement, Sammy Morris, going out with a chest injury late in the second quarter, the New England running game gained just 75 yards.

But with Brady turning in another vintage performance, that didn't really matter.

"As a defense, you hope that you can get an offense one-dimensional because you think it helps you on your side of the ball, but I think that's what they do," said Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears. "I think they would abandon the run anyway. You've got those guys spread out, receivers were making plays, Brady was making throws. We just gave them too much."

Another key for the Patriots was the fact that they converted on 11-of-17 third downs, including 7-for-9 in the first half.

"They killed us on third down the whole game," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "We tried about everything we could do, almost every coverage and blitz. They seem to just have the right answer for everything, and that's certainly the quarterback. He does a great job distributing the ball to a lot of different people."

With New England holding a 21-10 lead late in the second quarter, Romo engineered a late drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Owens with 46 seconds remaining, sending Dallas into halftime down by 21-17.

After the Dallas defense held the Patriots to a three-and-out possession to start the third quarter, the Cowboys marched downfield to score 4:40 into the second half when Romo threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton, giving Dallas their first lead, 21-17.

The Patriots came right back on their next possession and took the lead for good as Brady connected with tight end Kyle Brady for a 1-yard score.

"That was a big drive to bounce back after they took the lead, no doubt," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "They had a lot of momentum coming at the end of the second quarter and into the third after they stopped us and got back on the board."

The key play on that drive was Dallas safety Patrick Watkins getting called for pass interference on Randy Moss in the end zone in a collision that appeared to be incidental.

That moved the ball from what would have been a 3rd-and-7 situation from the 16 to a Patriots first down on the 1.

"We went ahead and I thought we had them stopped there, and then we got interference and they got it on the one, those kind of mistakes hurt us," Phillips said. "We made too many mistakes in the ballgame. There were some penalties that really hurt us."

New England extended the lead to 31-24 with 2:14 to go in the third on Stephen Gostkowski's 45-yard field goal. The Patriots initially thought they had a touchdown earlier on that drive when Brady connected with Moss for what was called a 43-yard touchdown, but it was overturned on a challenge.

The video review showed Moss dropped the ball after he landed out of bounds. Moss had six catches for 59 yards and a TD.

Brady's 69-yard bomb to Stallworth made it 38-24 and, after Nick Folk's second field goal of the game brought Dallas within 38-27, the Patriots ate up the clock with another long drive late that led to Gostkowski's 22-yard field goal.

With just under four minutes remaining and trailing by two touchdowns, Romo was hit as he threw and was intercepted by Junior Seau, effectively killing any comeback hopes.

"There was pressure on Tony and I knew that the ball was going to be released early, and hopefully erratically and the ball was just coming into my lap," Seau said of his third pick of the season and 18th of his career. "If I didn't put my hands up, it would have hit me dead in my thigh. It was definitely a great play by Rodney Harrison, putting pressure on the quarterback, and allowing me to obviously grab it."

The Patriots then tacked on another touchdown as rookie Kyle Eckel scored on a 1-yard run.

Overall in the fourth quarter, Dallas gained a total of 17 yards and was outscored, 17-3.

"With them coming up on us in the third quarter, and being behind," said New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi, "it was something that we really had to buckle down and see how that happened, look at pictures, make adjustments on the sidelines and go back out there and try to get a couple of three-and-outs - and we did that."

The Cowboys' season-long penchant for starting slow continued again, and this time came back to haunt them. While Dallas went three-and-out in each of its first three possessions, gaining a total of seven yards, the Patriots scored on two of their first three.

Brady hit Moss for a 6-yard TD pass 7:48 into the contest for a 7-0 lead and connected with Wes Welker for a 35-yard scoring strike late in the quarter to give New England a 14-0 lead heading into the second.

Those were the first touchdowns allowed by the Dallas defense in three games.

"I think early in the game, we just didn't execute and that's kind of been our Achilles' heel this season," said Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who caught three passes for 47 yards. "Offensively, it's just taken us a little while to get going, and unfortunately, against a good team like that, you can't afford to do that and it hurt us."

The Cowboys chipped away at the deficit with their first pronounced drive early in the second quarter, a possession that ended with Folk's 38-yard field goal.

Then, with the Patriots driving downfield again, Greg Ellis sacked Brady and punched the ball loose at the same time, and Jason Hatcher scooped up the bouncing ball and raced 29 yards untouched into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

"The defense had a big play with the fumble recovery and took it to the house, and just like that, it is a different ballgame," Romo said.

The Patriots increased the lead to 21-10 with 3:34 left in the first half with another Brady-to-Welker touchdown pass, this one for 12 yards, which followed a successful 4th-and-1 situation on the Dallas 15-yard-line that Brady took himself.

Cowboys' cornerback Anthony Henry, who still leads the NFL with four interceptions, sat out his second straight game with a high ankle sprain.