DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys made use of a rare NFL homestand where they won three games in a row at AT&T Stadium to move their record to 4-1 on the year. Now, atop the NFC East, the Cowboys will venture out to the Northeast where they will take on the New England Patriots.
The Patriots aren’t the Tim Brady era squad of old any longer at 2-3 but they are still coached by Bill Belichick which makes them dangerous every Sunday. That’s especially true at their home stadium in Foxborough, Mass. where Belichick has gone 135-31 during his tenure in New England.
With that in mind, here are 100 facts and stats as the Cowboys get set to play in what is technically the 17th game added to their schedule for the first time:
- This is the fourth time in series history that the Cowboys will have a better record than the Patriots ahead of the matchup. The other three instances were in 1971, 1975, and 1981 with Dallas prevailing in all three encounters.
- The Cowboys are 4-1 for the 17th time in franchise history. 14 of those previous 16 teams made the playoffs with 10 of those teams having won the division.
- Since 1990, 91 of 108 (84.3%) teams that started 5-1 made the playoffs with 66 of those teams having won the division.
- Since 1990, 143 of 225 (63.6%) teams that started 4-2 made the playoffs with 74 of those teams having won the division.
- The Patriots are 2-3 for the 15th time in franchise history. 4 of those previous 14 teams made the playoffs with two of those teams having won the division.
- Since 1990, 76 of 223 (34.1%) teams that started off 3-3 made the playoffs with 36 of 76 teams having won the division.
- Since 1990, 19 of 186 (10.2%) teams that started 2-4 made the playoffs with 9 of 19 having won the division.
- The Cowboys are 7-6 against the Patriots with a 3-4 record on the road. Here is the breakdown by venue:
Foxboro Stadium: 3-1
Gillette Stadium: 0-3
- The Cowboys are 1-3 against the Patriots in October with an 0-1 record on the road.
- The Cowboys are 1 of 12 teams that have yet to win at Gillette Stadium. The Eagles and Giants are the only NFC East teams to have won at Gillette Stadium.
- Among active stadiums where Dallas has played, Gillette Stadium is one of four stadiums that Dallas has yet to pick up a win. The other three are Empower Field at Mile High, M&T Bank Stadium, and TIAA Bank Field.
- The Cowboys are 149-154-1 in the Eastern Time Zone, including the playoffs, with a 29-36 record in the early afternoon time slot.
- From 1970-99, the Patriots were 29-44 in the late afternoon time slot with a 12-8 record at home. Since 2000, the Patriots are 68-24 in the late afternoon time slot with a 36-11 record at home.
- The last time the Cowboys played New England, the Patriots beat Dallas 13-9, their 18th consecutive home win. Since then, New England has gone 6-9, including the playoffs, and are on a three-game losing streak.
Dak Prescott Facts
Prescott will be making his second start against the Patriots as a Cowboys quarterback. Here are the records of other Dallas signal callers:
- Roger Staubach: 3-0
- Danny White: 3-0
- Troy Aikman: 1-1
- Quincy Carter: 0-1
- Brandon Weeden: 0-1
- Tony Romo: 0-2
- Dak Prescott: 0-1
Prescott is tied with Justin Herbert for the third-most touchdown passes with 13.
Prescott’s 73.9 completion percentage is the second-best in the NFL.
Prescott’s 1,368 passing yards are the 10th-most in the league.
Prescott’s yards per attempt is 8.3, the seventh-highest in the NFL.
Prescott has the second-best passer rating in the league at 116.9.
With a minimum of 100 passes, Prescott’s 116.9 passer rating is the second-best in Cowboys history through the first five games behind Roger Staubach’s 120.7 set in 1976.
Prescott has been sacked on 4.6% of his dropbacks, the 10th-fewest in the NFL.
There have been 19 quarterbacks this season who have a fourth quarter comeback to go along with their game-winning drives. Prescott is the only one with just a game-winning drive this year and no fourth quarter comebacks.
Among quarterbacks who have started every game, Prescott has had just four passes dropped, tied with Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater, and Kyler Murray for the fourth-most in the league.
Prescott has been blitzed the most with 71 sent his way.
Among quarterbacks who have started every game, Prescott has been pressured 28 times, second only to Matthew Stafford’s 25 for fewest in the league.
Prescott has thrown 18 passes out of run-pass option, the eighth-most in the NFL.
Prescott has run three times out of run-pass option, tied with Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill for the seventh-most in the NFL.
Prescott’s 73.2 completion percentage on third down is the third-highest in the NFL.
Among quarterbacks who have started at least three games, Prescott has the highest third down passer rating in the NFL at 130.1.
Prescott’s 10.2 yards per attempt on third down is the third-highest in the NFL among quarterbacks who have started every game.
Mac Jones Facts
Jones is tied with Taylor Heinicke and Davis Mills for the sixth-most interceptions in the NFL.
Jones’ 71.1 completion percentage is the fifth-highest in the NFL.
Jones’ 6.5 yards per attempt is tied with Matt Ryan, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson for the third-lowest in the NFL.
Jones’ 9.2 yards per completion is the fourth-lowest in the NFL.
Jones’ 86.4 passer rating is the eighth-lowest in the league.
Among quarterbacks who have started every game, Jones’ 7.6 intended air yards per attempt is tied with Justin Herbert for the eighth-lowest in the NFL.
Among quarterbacks who have started every game, Jones has benefited from 4.2 yards after the catch, tied with Josh Allen for the third-lowest in the league.
Jones has been blitzed 63 times, the third-most in the NFL.
Jones is 1 of 15 quarterbacks to have thrown at least four red zone touchdowns without an interception.
Ezekiel Elliott Facts
Among running backs, Elliott has converted the most third downs on the ground with six; he is third overall.
Elliott has the seventh-highest yards per carry on third down at 4.64.
Elliott is tied with Kareem Hunt and Sam Darnold for the most touchdown runs on third down with two.
Elliott is tied with Darnold and James Conner for the second-most red zone rushing touchdowns in the league with five.
Elliott has the third-highest rushing yards in the NFL with 452.
Elliott’s five rushing touchdowns are tied with Hunt, Conner, and Darnold for the second-most in the league. Derrick Henry leads the way with seven.
Among running backs with at least 60 carries, Elliott’s 5.3 yards per carry is the third-best in the NFL.
Elliott is second in the NFL with 250 yards before contact.
Elliott has 202 yards after contact, the third-most in the NFL.
Among running backs with at least 30 first down attempts, Elliott’s 5.57 yards per carry on first down is second only to Tony Pollard’s 7.13.
Elliott has picked up 10 first downs on the ground on first down carries, the second-most in the NFL.
Mike McCarthy Facts
This is the 61st week that McCarthy has held an undisputed spot in first place in his division and his fifth with the Cowboys.
McCarthy is 1-3 against the Patriots all-time with an 0-2 record on the road.
McCarthy’s 1-3 record against the Patriots is his worst against AFC East opponents:
- Dolphins: 3-1
- Jets: 2-1
- Bills: 2-2
- Patriots: 1-3
McCarthy is facing the Patriots for the first time as a Cowboys coach. Here is how other Dallas coaches fared:
- Tom Landry: 6-0
- Barry Switzer: 1-0
- Chan Gailey: 0-1
- Bill Parcells: 0-1
- Wade Phillips: 0-1
- Jason Garrett: 0-3
McCarthy is 18-22 against Super Bowl-winning coaches with a 5-16 record on the road.
McCarthy coached teams are 13-6 against rookie quarterbacks with an 8-3 record on the road.
McCarthy’s 8-7 record against the AFC East is his second-best against an AFC division:
- AFC West: 11-2
- AFC East: 8-7
- AFC South: 6-6
- AFC North: 8-9
McCarthy is 34-18 in October with a 14-9 record on the road.
Bill Belichick Facts
Belichick has not lost to the Cowboys since his first game with the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 1, 1991 in a 26-14 defeat.
Belichick has a 6-1 record against the Cowboys.
For his career, Belichick is 21-7 against the NFC East, including the playoffs, with a 9-3 record at home.
Belichick is one of four active head coaches hired in the 2000s and still with the same team. The other three coaches are John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and Sean Payton.
Since 2002, the opening of Gillette Stadium, 14 of the 25 opponents that have won ended up making the playoffs.
Belichick is 51 for 126 on challenges for his career but has yet to issue a challenge in 2021.
This is the seventh late afternoon game in the series and the third one at New England.
The Cowboys are 2-2 against the Patriots on CBS. Here is the breakdown by network:
- NBC: 4-0
- CBS: 2-2
- ABC: 1-0
- FOX: 0-2
- ESPN: 0-2
Since CBS took over the AFC package, the Cowboys are 27-18 on that network. Overall, the Cowboys are 294-195-6 on CBS, including the postseason.
The Patriots are 220-100 on CBS, including the postseason.
Jim Nantz and Tony Romo are the 11th different play-by-play team to call a game in the series.
The Cowboys are 22-15 when Nantz calls their games, playoffs included.
The Patriots are 77-23 when Nantz calls their games.
Dallas is 4-5 when Romo calls the action.
The Patriots are 17-6 when Romo calls their games.
Brad Allen Facts
This week’s referee is Brad Allen. The Cowboys are 1-5 with Allen. Here are the results:
- 2015 – @NO, 20-26 – L-OT
- 2015 – @GB, 7-28 – L
- 2016 – @GB, 30-16 – W
- 2017 – @DEN, 17-42 – L
- 2020 – @RAV, 17-34 – L
- 2020 – @NYG, 19-23 – L
The Cowboys have had fewer penalties than the opposition 2/6 times with Allen:
- 2015 – NO: 8/64; DAL: 6/30
- 2015 – GB: 8/69; DAL: 6/30
- 2016 – GB: 5/23; DAL: 7/60
- 2017 – DEN: 8/61; DAL: 8/69
- 2020 – RAV: 4/23; DAL: 7/58
- 2020 – NYG: 6/45; DAL: 6/58
Allen is tied for the second-highest (.750) home team winning percentage.
Allen is tied for the fourth-lowest (.250) percentage of home teams with fewer penalties.
The Patriots are 6-1 with Allen:
- 2014 – CHI, 51-23 – W
- 2014 – @NYJ, 17-16 – W
- 2016 – @NYJ, 22-17 – W
- 2017 – NYJ, 26-6 – W
- 2018 – GB, 31-17 – W
- 2019 – NYG, 35-14 – W
- 2020 – @MIA, 12-22 – L
The Patriots have had fewer penalties 4/7 times with Allen:
- 2014 – CHI: 5/41; NE: 7/38
- 2014 – NYJ: 2/14; NE: 5/38
- 2016 – NYJ: 6/66; NE: 2/15
- 2017 – NYJ: 9/84; NE: 4/49
- 2018 – GB: 7/63; NE: 5/30
- 2019 – NYG: 5/40; NE: 3/20
- 2020 – MIA: 7/40; NE: 2/20
Allen’s games feature the second-lowest (2.8) sacks per game.
Allen is tied for the second-lowest (1.8) offensive holding calls per game.
The Cowboys have yet to challenge one of Allen’s calls and neither has Replay Assistant. But opponents are 1 for 1.
The Patriots are 1 for 1 when challenging Allen. Opponents are 2 for 6. Replay Assistant is 0 for 4 with all of those calls benefiting the Patriots.
Allen is tied for the highest (1.000, 1 for 1) challenge overturn rate this season.
Allen is tied for the highest (1.000, 5 for 5) booth review overturn rate this season.
In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Cowboys took Oklahoma receiver Manuel Johnson with the 229 pick in the seventh round. Three picks later, the Patriots took Julian Edelman. Johnson was out of football after Sept. 3, 2011 while Edelman played 137 games for New England from 2009-20 and won three Super Bowls.
Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers is tied with Brandin Cooks, Mike Williams, and Deebo Samuel for the seventh-most catches with 31.
Dallas receiver Amari Cooper is tied for the seventh-most touchdown catches with four.
Not only does Cowboys receiver Cedrick Wilson have a 150.0 passer rating when targeted, he also has a 118.7 passer rating as a passer. The only other player with a 100.0-plus passer rating when targeted and as a passer this season is the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson.
By yards per play, the Dallas defense is the third-worst in the NFL with 6.3 yards surrendered per play.
By the same metric, the Patriots are tied with the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders for the fifth-best in the league at 5.1.
The Cowboys are second in the NFL with 12 takeaways.
The Cowboys have missed 39 tackles, tied with the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers for the fifth-most in the NFL.
The Cowboys defense is tied with the New Orleans Saints for 55 pressures, the ninth-most in the NFL.
Dallas gives up the most yards per carry at 892.
The Patriots have called 34 blitzes, the sixth-fewest in the NFL.
The Cowboys are 1-5 on Oct. 17. Here are the results:
- 1965 — @CLE, 17-23 -- L
- 1971 — @NO, 14-24 — L
- 1976 — @CRD, 17-21 — L
- 1993 — SF, 26-17 — W
- 2004 — PIT, 20-24 — L
- 2010 — @MIN, 21-24 — L
The Patriots are 2-3-1 on Oct. 17. Here are the results:
- 1965 — SDG, 13-13 — T
- 1971 — @MIA, 3-41 — L
- 1993 — OTI, 14-28 — L
- 1999 — MIA, 30-31 — L
- 2004 — SEA, 30-20 — W
- 2010 — RAV, 23-20 — W-OT
The Cowboys have no birthdays to celebrate or deaths to remember on Oct. 17.
Do you see the Cowboys breaking the losing streak against New England on Sunday? Share your favorite facts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.