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Running back Ezekiel Elliott had his best game as a Patriot, rushing for 80 yards on 16 carries in the team’s win over the Jets on Sunday. Elliott didn’t celebrate long before turning his attention to Week 4.

The Patriots play the Cowboys on Sunday.

Elliott spent seven seasons with the Cowboys after they made him a first-round pick.

“It’s going to be fun,” Elliott said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I’m excited to go back to Dallas, a place where I have so much history, my home in the offseason. It will be cool to get back in AT&T [Stadium].”

The Cowboys cut Elliott in a cost-cutting move in the offseason. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team didn’t offer Elliott a reduced contract, because they didn’t want to “insult” him.

Elliott remained a free agent until Aug. 16, and the Cowboys repeatedly expressed the idea that they were leaving the door open for a possible reunion that never happened.

“I was definitely disappointed, but everything happens for a reason,” Elliott said. “God has his plan for us. I’m excited for this next chapter in my life. I’m excited to be a Patriot. I’m excited to go chase a Super Bowl here.”

Elliott had hoped to finish his career with the Cowboys, in the same backfield with his good friend, Dak Prescott, but it was not to be.

“No one wants to leave the team they’re with, but more importantly, I’m very happy with where I’m at,” Elliott said.

Elliott, who is Rhamondre Stevenson’s backup, had only 12 carries for 42 yards and five receptions for 14 yards in the first two games combined. The Patriots used him more Sunday.

“We’re getting a little bit of a feel for some of the things with him and vice versa,” coach Bill Belichick said.

Although Elliott initially billed Sunday’s game in Arlington as “just another game,” it won’t be. He wants to remind the Cowboys of the two rushing titles, the 8,262 rushing yards and the three Pro Bowls that he had with them.

The Cowboys’ red zone troubles in Week 2 were overlooked in the Cowboys’ 30-10 victory over the Jets. They were only 2-of-6 inside the Jets’ 20-yard line in that game. It didn’t matter.

On Sunday, it mattered.

The Cowboys’ failure to score in the red zone played a big part in their 28-16 loss to the Cardinals.

Dallas scored only one touchdown in five trips inside the Cardinals’ 20-yard line.

“You look at this loss, we moved the ball up and down the field and just couldn’t score,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “So, that’s your reason for this loss.”

In the second half, the Cowboys twice kicked field goals from the Arizona 8. They turned it over on downs from the Arizona 4, and Prescott threw an interception from the Arizona 6 on their final possession. Prescott was only 2-of-9 for 25 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the red zone.

“We’ve got to do better,” Prescott said. “Just as a team, as a unit, myself. Got to make some throws. Maybe use my feet more. Honestly, that’s an area that we haven’t been good in the last two weeks. Even in the win last week, that was the sore spot in the win. . . . We’ve all got to get back to the drawing board. Starts with me. Making some throws and making some plays with my feet and trying to get it done.”

For the season, the Cowboys have six touchdowns in 15 red zone possessions. Only the Bucs, Titans and Texans have a worse success rate than the Cowboys’ 40 percent. The Cowboys have seven red zone field goals.

The Cowboys scored touchdowns on 40 of 56 red zone drives (71 percent) last season.

The Cowboys came into Sunday as heavy favorites to improve to 3-0 by beating the Cardinals, but they wound up getting punched in the face by the previously winless Cardinals.

Arizona won 28-16 while putting up 222 rushing yards against a Cowboys defense that only allowed 10 points over the first two weeks of the season. The offense only scored one touchdown on five trips into the red zone as all of the success of the first two weeks came to a crashing end.

Quarterback Dak Prescott called it a “humbling” loss and head coach Mike McCarthy agreed with that sentiment.

“The reality is we’re 2-1,” head coach Mike McCarthy said, via the team’s website. “We’re gonna fully expect to win every week. Obviously, we’re disappointed. We’re disappointed we’re leaving here without a win, but this is part of the journey. It’s part of the humbling component of the National Football League. Every experience gives you an opportunity to grow. We need to grow from this experience.”

Prescott was asked if the game was a wake-up call for the team. He repeated that it was a humbling defeat, but noted that the media had “put us on top of the world” and that there’s only been “one undefeated team in this league” while saying the team now has to refocus ahead of a Week Four matchup with the Patriots.

Every Sunday night, the Football Night in America crew tries to make sense of the day that was in the National Football League.

Which means we did it again last night, after a weird and memorable third full day of NFL action in the 2023 regular season.

So have a look or a listen or both at the breakdown from Jason Garrett, Devin McCourty, Maria Taylor, Matthew Berry, and me.

The biggest news of the day included the Dolphins scoring 70, the Patriots continuing their mastery of the Jets, the Chiefs extending the Bears’ very bad week, the Cardinals shocking the Cowboys, and the Vikings out-Chargering the Chargers.

The Cowboys had everything going for them after two games, outscoring the Giants and Jets 70-10. They forgot to pack their A game on Sunday.

Whether they “ate the cheese” and underestimated the Cardinals or just had an off day, the Cowboys didn’t play like a contender in Arizona.

A double-digit favorite, the Cowboys lost by double digits, falling 28-16. Dallas dropped to 2-1, while Jonathan Gannon got his first win as the Cardinals’ head coach and Joshua Dobbs his first as a starting quarterback.

The Cardinals, who gave Gannon a Gatorade bath as time expired, led from start to finish.

The Cowboys had three chances on their final three possessions to make it a game, but they turned it over on downs at the Arizona 4, settled for a field goal from the Arizona 8 and Dak Prescott threw an interception in the end zone from the Arizona 6. It was Prescott’s first interception of the season after he led the NFL with 15 last season.

The Cowboys played without three starting offensive linemen (LT Tyron Smith, C Tyler Biadasz and Zack Martin) and an All-Pro cornerback (Trevon Diggs). Regardless, the Cardinals were better Sunday, even without starting quarterback Kyler Murray.

Arizona ran for 182 yards in the first half and 222 for the game. James Conner ran for 98 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries; Dobbs had 55 rushing yards on six carries; and Rondale Moore had 54 rushing yards and a touchdown on three carries.

The Cowboys had only two sacks, including one by Micah Parsons, as Dobbs completed 17 of 21 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He had a 2-yard scoring toss to Hollywood Brown with 7:22 remaining, the final score of the game that gave the Cardinals a two-score lead.

Matt Prater kicked field goals of 39, 43 and 62 yards in the first half.

Prescott was 25-of-40 for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Tony Pollard ran for 122 yards on 23 carries.