Patriots stock up, stock down after OT loss to Cowboys: Mac Jones' deep ball improving, defense comes up short

Patriots stock up, stock down after OT loss to Cowboys: Mac Jones' deep ball improving, defense comes up short
Patriots stock up, stock down after OT loss to Cowboys: Mac Jones' deep ball improving, defense comes up short

The Patriots were able to hang with the Dallas Cowboys for four quarters by matching their point total of 29. However, the overtime period proved to be the breaking point, as Dak Prescott and company were able march down the field and eventually connect for the game-winning touchdown at Gillette Stadium. New England now sits at 2-4 on the season with all four of those losses coming in Foxborough, marking the first time since 1993 that the franchise is winless in its first four home contests. 

They'll get a chance to snap that this week against the New York Jets, who they were able to beat soundly at MetLife Stadium earlier in the year. Before we start to really center our focus on Week 7, however, we're going to take the temperature of various players on the roster and where they are trending as we depart this overtime loss against Dallas. 

Stock up: Mac Jones' deep ball 

New England's deep passing attack has been a weak point in the offense for the bulk of the season and has been one of the main areas of concern when wondering how high the ceiling is for this unit. This week against the Cowboys, Mac Jones showed that he may be taking a step in a positive direction when it comes to this area of his development. Prior to Week 6, Jones was just 4 of 19 on passes 20-plus yards down the field, according to Pro Football Focus. Against Dallas, Jones completed all four of his passes 20-plus yards down the field for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Included in that was Jones' 75-yard touchdown to Kendrick Bourne late in the fourth quarter. 

Stock down: Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick's decision to punt the ball away from his own 46-yard line in overtime was puzzling, to say the least. New England was fortunate to win the coin toss and should have been more aggressive going for the win in that setting. Yes, Dallas would have gained a short field, making an OT win more easily attainable had the Patriots failed to execute, but the defense had been gashed by the unit for the bulk of the night and was gassed, already being on the field for 75 plays prior to the extra period. 

That's a situation where you have to trust your quarterback to make a play on fourth-and-3 to keep the chains moving and go for the win rather than play it safe. This season, Jones has completed 13 of his 21 pass attempts with three or fewer yards to go for 126 yards, one touchdown and 13 first downs. 

Bentley had himself a night. The fifth-year linebacker collected 10 tackles prior to halftime and had a team-high 13 on the night. He was also a key piece to New England's critical goal-line stand against Dallas when it was knocking on the door of the end zone. On a fourth-and-goal attempt at the one, Bentley punched the ball loose from Prescott for a touchdown-saving forced fumble. 

If you were wondering who was responsible for the Cowboys blocking Jake Bailey's punt, look no further than Tavai. He missed an assignment on the play, which directly allowed Dallas to execute the block. Tavai was then benched in favor of Bentley to better protect Bailey in punting situations. 

After a shaky start for both backs throughout the first month-plus of the season, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson each proved to be key weapons for the Patriots offense. Harris rushed for a game-high 101 yards on 18 carries while Stevenson has 23 yards on the ground on five carries. Each was able to find the end zone as well. 

What was interesting in the case of Stevenson -- who was in the doghouse for portions of the year early on -- is that he's seemingly taken over the passing-down role that Brandon Bolden held following James White's injury. Stevenson caught all three of his targets Sunday for 39 yards. Those receptions were second-highest on the team. 

Isaiah Wynn has yet to play to the level that the Patriots want at left tackle this season. After returning this week after missing Week 5 due to COVID-19 protocols, Wynn allowed a big sack on Jones and was subbed out for Justin Herron because of it. According to PFF, Wynn has allowed 14 pressures and three sacks through his five games.

Bonus stock down: Patriots defense

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