BOSTON -- Did you enjoy the football game on Sunday afternoon?
If you're from the New England area and have any level of interest in the local team, then the answer is certainly no. The Patriots went into Dallas for a game where many folks felt they had a good chance to pull off an upset and right the ship on the season.
Instead, all that came out of Sunday's game was disaster. Abject disaster.
The final score was 38-3. And somehow, it felt even worse than that.
With that being said ... the "Four Ups" and "Four Downs" might not stand up to the analysis of local mathematicians. The numbers may be a bit skewed toward the Downs.
The quarterback had a nightmarish first half, coughing up a fumble (which led to a defensive touchdown for Dallas) and throwing an interception (which ... led to a defensive touchdown for Dallas) in a span of 10 minutes.
Mac also failed to pick up a first down on a QB sneak on a play where nobody was really there to stop him from reaching out or lunging forward, and he very nearly threw another pick before halftime.
The Patriots trailed 28-3 at halftime, and the quarterback was the biggest reason why.
It didn't get better in the second half, and he was benched after a drive midway through the third quarter, with the Patriots trailing 31-3.
The shape of the first half could have been different if Mike Gesicki had caught a touchdown on the Patriots' opening drive. The throw from Mac Jones wasn't perfectly placed, and Gesicki had been held on his route, but he ended up getting open and having a chance to make a catch that is relatively routine for an NFL tight end. Alas, Gesicki just threw one hand out and didn't really make a leaping effort to haul in what could have been a go-ahead touchdown.
Perhaps the wheels would have fallen off anyway. Perhaps that touchdown would have kicked off a better game for New England. We'll never know.
Joe Judge/Cam Achord/Bill Belichick
Raise your hand if you had Mike McCarthy's team clowning Bill Belichick's team with some special teams trickery. Anyone? Anyone out there?
That is what happened, though, as the Cowboys caught the Patriots rushing 11 guys on the PAT following the fumble return touchdown in the second quarter. Punter Bryan Anger hit a wide-open Chauncey Golston, and the defensive end rumbled into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
It only led to one extra point on the scoreboard, but the imagery and the implication of the Cowboys clowning the Patriots just felt wrong.
An offensive lineman never wants his name to end up on the play-by-play sheet, but right guard Mike Onwenu had the misfortune of landing there three times in the first quarter.
The first one can be somewhat forgiven, as he reacted to a flinch on the D-line but got flagged for a false start. Officials deemed the offending party on Dallas to have not crossed into the neutral zone. But the result was lousy, as it turned a third-and-10 into a third-and-15. Jones completed a 14-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the next play and then got stuffed on a QB sneak on fourth down.
The second penalty was another false start, pushing the Patriots into a first-and-15 at their own 5-yard line. Two plays later, Jones was strip-sacked, and Leighton Vander Esch returned it for a touchdown.
And the third penalty was likewise a bad one, as Onwenu's holding penalty turned a 12-yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson into a 6-yard loss. That drive ended with a pick-six.
The rookie lands on the Downs list not for poor play, but for injury. He suffered a shoulder injury while tackling Tony Pollard in the first quarter, and he did not return. The Patriots have really leaned on the 21-year-old to solidify the secondary this year, as he had played all but one defensive snap this season entering Sunday. If he's out for a while, that will be quite the problem.
Likewise, Matthew Judon's on the Downs for suffering an injury. He reached out to try to tackle Deuce Vaughn in the fourth quarter and seemed to have his arm rip backward in a way that was clearly uncomfortable. He went down to the turf immediately, grabbing that right arm, and left the game.
Judon is still the Patriots' best player. The team will be hoping that injury is not a major one.
Mike Onwenu wasn't the only offender. The Patriots were committing penalties left and right. As we all know, New England used to always be the more disciplined team just about every week. Those days have been gone for a while, but Sunday was particularly ugly.
The final tally was six for 50 yards, though two more were declined.
A crisp route might not have prevented an interception, but Smith-Schuster did not come close to running a crisp route on the play that led to six points the other way. Smith-Schuster ran an out on a fourth-and-2, but he rounded off his route and allowed the cornerback to make an easy read and break to step in front of the route and pick off the pass.
The receiver has still yet to make a positive impact through four weeks with his new team. He had one catch for 14 yards (when the Patriots needed 15 yards) on five targets in this one. That gives him 11 receptions for 80 yards in four games thus far.
The rookie kicker got a chance to make a 52-yarder late in the game. He missed it wide right.
Did the three points matter? Of course not. But game experience is valuable, and Ryland didn't make the most of this opportunity.
Ryland missed two field goals in slick conditions last week against the Jets -- one from 57 yards, the other from 48 -- and he's now 4-for-7 on field goals for the season.
In a day with few highlights, the rookie receiver hit the circle button and put safety Donovan Wilson in a blender.
That was cool.
The rookie still has a lot to learn about the amount of time and space he has on punt returns, but that open-field move was slick.
The veteran D-lineman sacked Dak Prescott on a fourth down, and his disruption earlier in the game freed up Josh Uche for a sack.
Hey, that's something.
Jahlani Tavai also had a sack, and Matt Judon drew an illegal hands to the face penalty that was declined. So the pass rush was present.
The Patriots punted a lot. The rookie punter did a good job punting the ball. Good for him. Something to feel good about for the New England Patriots.
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