Dak Prescott threw for more yards than any other quarterback against the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick era Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys, as a team, gained 567 yards of offense, also the most against a Belichick-coached defense in New England.
But all season long, the Patriots have underachieved defensively, and NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran has a theory on why: the return of Matt Patricia, even in his undefined role.
"It's coaching," Curran said on Post Game Live. "In 2017, Matt Patricia's last year here, they weren't a good defense -- at all. They gave up 41 points in the Super Bowl, they almost got beat by Jacksonville and Blake Bortles."
Patricia, who had been New England's defensive coordinator from 2012-17, left to coach the Detroit Lions following New England's 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII -- the previous mark for most yards allowed in the Belichick era, with 538.
After going 13-29-1 before being fired in November 2020, Patricia returned to Foxboro, where he has been acting in a variety of roles that remain unclear.
But as Curran points out, the 2018 Patriots got back to the Super Bowl and won it, holding the Los Angeles Rams to just a field goal in a 13-3 win. In 2019 -- a season which saw the team exposed down the stretch -- New England nonetheless set a franchise record for fewest points allowed with 225.
Even in last year's 7-9 debacle, Curran points out, there were games in which the defense looked great.
"Now Matt Patricia has returned -- and they are setting franchise records," Curran said. "I don't know what role he's got, but we've got a common denominator in the house."