DALLAS (AP/Sports Network) – The erratic Cowboys, fresh off a Week 5 bye, could have made this matchup a colossal one had they been able to hold onto a pair of second-half leads earlier in the season. Dallas squandered a 14-point advantage with under 12 minutes remaining in a 27-24 last-second loss to the Jets in the opener, and wasted a seemingly-comfortable 24-point cushion in a stunning 34-30 defeat to still-unbeaten Detroit just prior to its break.
In between those games, the Cowboys rallied for a thrilling 27-24 overtime win at San Francisco in Week 2 and edged current NFC East leader Washington by an 18-16 score in their subsequent test.
Tony Romo’s play has been instrumental to the outcome of every one of those results. The polarizing quarterback engineered late comebacks in the two victories and committed a number of very costly turnovers in both losses, including three interceptions in the Detroit game that were converted into 21 points.
Romo is still dealing with the effects of a fractured rib he sustained against the 49ers back in mid-September, but has practiced without restrictions during the week and will play wearing a protective vest. He’ll also have Miles Austin to throw to once again, with the standout receiver set to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the team’s last two games.
DALLAS (2-2) At NEW ENGLAND (4-1) Sunday, 3:15 p.m., 105.3 The Fan (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX)
OPENING LINE: Patriots by 7
RECORD VS. SPREAD: Dallas 1-2-1; New England 4-1
SERIES RECORD: Cowboys lead 7-3
LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Cowboys 48-27, Oct. 14, 2007
LAST WEEK: Cowboys had bye; Patriots beat Jets 30-21
COWBOYS OFFENSE: OVERALL (6), RUSH (26), PASS (3)
COWBOYS DEFENSE: OVERALL (4), RUSH (1), PASS (14)
PATRIOTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (6), PASS (1)
PATRIOTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (13), PASS (32)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES : Last time teams met was 2007, when both were 5-0.
New England has won last three games of series after losing first seven.
Rob Gronkowski of Patriots leads AFC tight ends with 22 receptions; Jason Witten of Cowboys tied for second in NFC with 27. Dallas 16-6 coming off bye weeks and has won last five road games after bye.
LB DeMarcus Ware has five sacks in four games this season and at least one in six of his past seven.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was linebackers coach for Patriots from 2000-03 when they won two Super Bowls.
Tony Romo trying to rebound from throwing two interceptions for TDs in 34-30 loss to Detroit in which Dallas blew 24-point lead in the third quarter. WR Dez Bryant had two touchdown catches against Lions.
Win would be Dallas’ 85th against AFC team, tying San Francisco for most by NFC team over AFC team.
Tom Brady has won last 30 regular-season home games, an NFL record; Patriots have won their last 19.
New England can tie league record with 14th consecutive regular-season game scoring at least 30 points. St. Louis Rams set it in 1999-2000.
Wes Welker going for fourth straight game with at least 120 yards receiving. He leads NFL with 740. Patriots defense coming off best performance of year, holding Jets to 255 yards, but still has allowed most yards in league, 433 per game.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis faces No. 1-ranked run defense, giving up an average of 61.8 yards, after rushing for career-high 136 yards against the Jets.
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