New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys: Revisiting the Wild 2021 Matchup

Dallas vs. New England was a barn burner the last time they met in 2021. Could we be in for another tightly-contested showdown this time around?

The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots are set to square off Sunday afternoon in an intriguing matchup that has only been played 14 times, dating back to 1971.

The last time these two squads met in 2021, they delivered a 35-29 overtime thriller where the lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter alone before the Cowboys eventually prevailed. Could we be in for another tightly-contested showdown this time around?

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Dallas Cowboys Win 2021 Overtime Thriller vs. New England Patriots

Dallas took home a tightly-contested win in the teams’ last cross-conference clash two years ago.

The Patriots, though, held the early advantage up 7-0 and then 14-7 after a four-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris and a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry. The Cowboys pulled ahead 17-14 on a one-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb, a lead they held into the final frame, where chaos ensued.

Dallas extended its lead to 20-14 with 13:13 to play on a 45-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal, then New England got back in front 21-20 with 6:23 left on a one-yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson. Trevon Diggs returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown before a failed two-point conversion try left the Cowboys up 26-21 with 2:27 to play.

Jones found Kendrick Bourne for a 75-yard touchdown pass just 16 seconds later, then hit Jakobi Meyers for a two-point conversion to put the Patriots ahead 29-26 with 2:11 remaining. Finally, Dallas tied things up at 29-29 with 20 seconds left in regulation on a 49-yard field goal by Zuerlein and sent it to overtime.

MORE: Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart | New England Patriots Depth Chart

New England got the ball first in overtime and picked up one first down before stalling out at its own 46 and punting away. The Cowboys took over at their own 20 and drove 80 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Lamb that clinched the 35-29 triumph.

Who’s Still Around From the Last Dallas-New England Duel?

Plenty has changed since that 2021 game, but the teams’ starting signal-callers remain the same.

Prescott still leads the way for Dallas after completing 36 of 51 passes for 445 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the contest. Jones remains at the helm for the Patriots after going 15 of 21 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception two years ago.

Lamb also remains a focal point for the Cowboys’ offense after catching nine passes for 145 yards and two scores, including the game-winner, last time around. Dalton Schultz, Amari Cooper, and Noah Brown are all on different teams this year after playing key parts as pass catchers in the contest.

Tony Pollard leads Dallas’ running backs room with 62 carries for 264 yards and two touchdowns this year after going for 10 carries and 41 yards two seasons ago.

Ezekiel Elliott, who ran 17 times for 69 yards in the last Dallas-New England meeting, is now on the other end of the matchup after being released by the Cowboys this offseason. He has already tallied 28 carries for 122 yards for the Patriots this year ahead of his first game in Dallas since leaving the franchise.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and reuniting with the fans,” Elliott said on Wednesday. “Even though I’ll be in a different uniform, I think it will be a good experience.”

Zuerlein is also no longer with the Cowboys after hitting a trio of crucial field goals in the 2021 contest. Brandon Aubrey has stepped in soundly at kicker and is a perfect 10 for 10 on field goal tries this season, making 6 of 7 on extra points.

Diggs is still on Dallas’ roster after his impactful pick-six in the last meeting but is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered during a Week 3 practice. Micah Parsons is still a force, too, after he had a team-high six total tackles in that 2021 bout.

Stevenson is another holdover for New England after running five times for 23 yards in the last meeting. He is the Patriots’ leading rusher with 46 carries for 134 yards and one touchdown through three games, with Elliott not far behind.

Hunter Henry, who notched two catches for 25 yards, remains an important target for New England at tight end with 13 catches for 125 yards and two scores this year. Ja’Whaun Bentley is still anchoring the Patriots’ defense after he had 13 total tackles and a forced fumble during the last showdown.

MORE: Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

All in all, there are certainly plenty of players poised to feature in this matchup who were part of the 2021 instant classic.

Time will tell whether they will deliver another barn burner in 2023.

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