Cowboys Stadium

Pats make Cowboys work for overtime win

Bill Belichick came oh-so close to diving into the rhetorical water occupied by kids’ coaches who thank the guys for trying really, really hard and putting up a good fight.

It is meant as a consolation hug. We haven’t heard such warmth and fuzziness from the coach of the Patriots since … well, Pete Carroll must have trotted out his power of positive reflection after one loss or another.

“Give Dallas credit. They’re a good team, well coached,’’ Belichick said in his post-game press conference. “We just came up a little bit short. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them for 60 minutes. They just made a few more plays than we did. Let’s give them credit for that and move on.”

Moving on to the New York Dreadful Football Jets is all they can do. The NFL is sort of tyrannical about teams sticking to their schedule.

Looking on from barstools and sofas, the rest of us can linger for a moment or two on a loss to a clearly better team that, with a bounce here or a sack there, could have been a four-star win.

The Pats held Dallas to 10 points in the first half. By the time Dak Prescott connected with Cee Dee Lamb for a 35-yard touchdown reception in overtime, it was exceedingly clear that holding this team to 10 points in a half was a battle ribbon to wear with pride.

It isn’t that the Cowboys are running away with the NFC East title. By successfully tying their cleats they are miles ahead of the football flotsam occupying the rest of that dance card. They have been playing strong football, their occasional bumbling at Gillette Stadium notwithstanding.

The Patriots were able to capitalize on several of the Cowboys’ miscues. But the offense was, once again, unable to stay on the field for any extended periods of time. By the start of the fourth quarter, it was clear that the Pats’ defense was running on fumes.

When the Pats won the coin toss headed into overtime, they were presented with their final opportunity to pull off an upset. You knew that of they didn’t reach the end zone on the first possession of OT, it would be their last possession of the evening.

Mac Jones played fairly well. He deserved the praise he received from CBS analyst Tony Romo. He made a mistake or two along the way, but as his NFL career heads into its seventh week, it would be needless nitpicking to bring them up, unless you are Belichick manning the game-film projector.

Damien Harris was outstanding, rushing for 101 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

As distasteful as it is, it’s tough to walk away from this loss grumbling about the 2-4 Patriots.

Now if Belichick is talking about how hard the kids played after a loss to the Jets, that would be alarming.

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