FOXBOROUGH, Mass.: Ezekiel Elliott didnt need to suppose lengthy this week about what he remembered most about Dallas final go to to New England in 2019.
It was a like a hurricane, Elliott recalled of the sport performed in moist, windy situations and included temperatures that dipped into the 30s. I had the large seaside towel in my pants, so I may preserve my fingers dry. I keep in mind carrying like 5 – 6 completely different pairs of gloves.
New England slogged out a 13-9 win that day in a matchup of the Patriots top-ranked protection and Cowboys top-ranked offense, holding Dallas with no landing for the primary time that season.
It was the beginning of a three-game shedding streak for the Cowboys, who misplaced 4 of their ultimate six on the best way to lacking the playoffs at 8-8. New England completed 12-4, however have been knocked out within the wild-card spherical in what turned out to be Tom Bradys ultimate recreation with the Patriots.
Much has modified two years later.
Aside from Brady being gone, New England (2-3) can be within the unfamiliar position of underdog because it tries to keep away from its first 0-Four begin at dwelling below Bill Belichick. The Cowboys (4-1) have the NFLs second-ranked offense this time, are armed with a rejuvenated Dak Prescott and look as outfitted as theyve ever been to beat the Patriots for the primary time in the course of the Belichick period.
Patriots linebacker Donta Hightower mentioned the three pillars of their protection are to be bodily, get after the quarterback and cease the run.
All three include added challenges this week reverse an enormous Cowboys offensive line, a quarterback in Prescott who has one of many quickest releases within the league and a two-pronged assault at working again with Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Hightower mentioned he hasnt seen any hesitancy in Prescott coming off final seasons ankle harm.
I believe hell do no matter it takes, Hightower mentioned. If he must run for a primary down, I believe hell do it. I believe hes very assured in the place hes at and I believe his play undoubtedly exhibits that
New England has received the final six matchups total, with Dallas final victory within the sequence coming in 1996. The Cowboys havent received in New England since 1987.
Record apart, Dallas coach Mike McCarthy expects to face one other well-prepared Patriots staff.
There isn’t any punches pulled while you play these guys, mentioned McCarthy, who’s 1-Three in opposition to Belichick. This is a method of play our guys will embrace, however they do a superb job of attempting to scheme in opposition to the belongings you do finest.
Dallas defensive finish Randy Gregory is on the perfect three-game stretch of his off-and-on profession with 4 QB pressures in every of the previous three video games, based on Sportradar. His earlier finest whole over three video games was 10. Both his sacks got here within the second of the three video games.
While Gregory trails one Dallas rookie in sacks (Micah Parsons leads the staff with 2) and is tied with one other 2021 draft decide in Osa Odighizuwa, his impression is obvious with the Cowboys ready for big-money move rusher DeMarcus Lawrence to return from a damaged foot.
This is simply the third time in Gregorys seven seasons he has been obtainable at first of the season. Substance-abuse suspensions sidelined him the opposite 4 occasions. And its the primary time he has performed by way of 5 video games with out lacking any time for accidents.
As far as my confidence goes, I really feel like its proper the place it must be, mentioned Gregory, who has been nursing a sore knee between video games. Theres elements of my recreation Ive nonetheless started working on. Theres a part of my physique that dont really feel proper. But my play on the sector, Im not likely stunned about it. I believe Im going to pattern upward.
DALLAS AND THE 201
The Cowboys averaged 201 yards dashing per recreation for 3 weeks earlier than beating the Giants 44-20. They hit that quantity precisely in opposition to New York as Elliott put collectively consecutive 100-yard video games for the primary time since three straight in 2019.
Dallas is second within the NFL in dashing at 173 yards per recreation after getting simply 60 within the opener, a 31-29 loss to Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay when Prescott threw for 403 yards.
The O-line, theyre mauling guys up entrance, mentioned Elliott, who’s third within the NFL with 452 yards and averaging 5.Three yards per carry, the perfect by way of 5 video games within the two-time dashing champions profession. You obtained the receivers mauling DBs, too. Everyone is doing their half, and have been reaping the advantages.
Patriots kicker Nick Folk enters the week one subject purpose shy of changing into the 35th participant in NFL historical past to succeed in 300 for his profession. He could be the fifth energetic kicker to hit the milestone, becoming a member of Robbie Gould (403), Mason Crosby (355), Matt Prater (329) and Justin Tucker (302).
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Arlington, Texas, contributed to this report.
More AP NFL protection: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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