Patriots 13, Cowboys 9: 10 quick thoughts from ugly win in rain

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FOXBOROUGH — It certainly wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.

In poor weather conditions, the Patriots beat the Cowboys, 13-9, Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Without Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett on offense, the unit didn’t have a complete bounce back effort, but it did enough to win. Fortunately, the defense and special teams dominated once again, but it should be expected given what they’ve been so far this season.

The Patriots are now 10-1 and will maintain the top spot in the AFC.

Here are 10 quick thoughts from the game.

1. The Patriots defense was back doing Patriots defense things. The unit did not allow a single touchdown and kept the Cowboys playmakers in check. Amari Cooper finished with zero catches on two targets with the credit going to Stephon Gilmore. Also, Ezekiel Elliott finished with less than 100 yards rushing. While there weren't as many turnovers as in past games, the unit held strong in the red zone and limited touchdowns.

2. While Tom Brady didn’t have the greatest of numbers — 17-for-37 with 190 yards and a touchdown -- he played fairly well. He was the victim of several drops and given what the offense was working with, the unit did a decent job. It had just two three-and-outs and moved the ball relatively efficiently against the Dallas defense. There is more optimism with the offense following the game, as it undoubtedly will get better when Sanu and Dorsett return.

3. N’Keal Harry recorded his first NFL touchdown, on a nice back-shoulder catch from Brady. The 10-yard touchdown was the first score of the game. With that being said, it was Harry’s lone catch and he later added a drop. Jakobi Meyers had a solid game with a few big catches. The rookie had four catches for 74 yards on nine targets.

4. From a Dallas perspective, the play-calling was questionable, especially early in the game. Jason Garrett and Co. went away from Elliott despite some success and the issues the Patriots have had defending the run. Throwing the ball more led to a Stephon Gilmore interception and the second score of the game for New England. There was another bad decision late when he opted for a short field goal and didn't go for it on fourth down.

5. While Julian Edelman played, he clearly was limited by his shoulder injury. The wide receiver was clearly impacted when it came to his range of motion with his arms, especially on balls thrown over his head. He finished with eight catches on 12 targets for 93 yards. Once again, he’s showing he is one of the toughest players in the entire league.

6. While Marshall Newhouse didn’t start with Isaiah Wynn back, he was forced into the game when Marcus Cannon needed to leave in the second quarter due to illness. It wasn’t great for Newhouse, who once again was beaten on several plays allowing pressure to get to Brady. Cannon didn't miss much time and returned for the second half.

7. Nick Folk, in his first game at Gillette Stadium, missed two kicks. They were from 46 and 48 yards away, but considering the conditions he might get a pass. Folk did make two field goals, so it wasn't all bad. Still, it certainly is not good news for the position as the games get even more important.

8. Special teams played a factor once again, as Matthew Slater blocked a punt in the first quarter, which set up the first Patriots touchdown — Brady to Harry. For all the credit the defense has received this season, the special teams deserves a great deal as well for all the plays they have made. 

9. Jamie Collins had a monster game, finishing with nine tackles and a forced fumble. He was all over the field, especially in the first quarter. Lawrence Guy had another great game, finishing with eight tackles.

10. The weather was miserable at Gillette Stadium with heavy rain and wind coming down for the majority of the game. In the second half there were a number of empty seats in the 300 level where the brunt of the rain/wind was felt.

The Patriots recorded their 20th interception of the season, which is the most in the NFL and their most since 2012 (20). They are one of two teams that has more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed this season.