Trailing by a field goal with just under three minutes remaining, quarterback Tom Brady engineered yet another fourth-quarter comeback, putting the Patriots ahead for good on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds remaining.
The win was that much more satisfying considering Dallas had won five consecutive road games and New England turned the ball over four times (two fumbles and two interceptions).
The Patriots enter the bye week with a solid 5-1 record despite questions about their defense and their ability to run the ball or maintain a balanced offense on a consistent basis.
"The bye week always comes at a good time no matter what part of the season because all of the guys need it to get (over) those little bumps and bruises and get those healed up and get ready for a long push when we start against Pittsburgh in a few weeks," Brady said, "but we're always trying to improve things.
"I don't think we ever come out of a game thinking, 'Yeah, we have everything figured out,' especially a game like (Sunday) where we're all pretty proud of the way we pulled it out. It was a great team win. The defense really stepped it up when we needed it to, and offensively we did some things when we needed to as well."
|Patriots WR Deion Branch quietly having a solid season. Pictured here being pursued by Dallas Cowboys Gerald Sensabaugh # on October 16, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)|
To do what they did Sunday in the fourth quarter against a Rob Ryan-coached defense makes it that much more impressive. Brady took some extra satisfaction in beating a team that had played well on the road entering Sunday.
"There's nothing easy out there," Brady said. "(Ryan) doesn't give you any easy throws. He tries to take away your main routes, and he tries to double-coverage your main receivers. They did a lot of that. They put a lot of extra guys in coverage that teams typically don't do.
"They were rushing three guys most of the time, and they force you to throw the ball even with those three guys because they're very good pass-rushers."
The bottom line, as Brady and coach Bill Belichick noted, is the Patriots made more than enough plays to win the game despite their mistakes. While there are still some issues to sort out for the remainder of the season, it's hard to find too much fault in a team with a 5-1 record that continues to get the job done.
"Everyone is sitting in the locker room at 5-1 going into the bye week feeling pretty good," Brady said. "Obviously there are a lot of things we need to correct, but it's much better to be 5-1 than 4-2."
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