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Boomer Esiason on D&C: Sunday ‘may have been [Patriots'] best win of the year’

10.17.11 at 10:30 am ET
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Boomer Esiason

CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to evaluate the Patriots’ 20-16 win over the Cowboys Sunday.

The New England offense was mediocre at best Sunday, as quarterback Tom Brady recorded his lowest passer rating of the season at 82.3, throwing for 289 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The offense also fumbled the ball once and had to settle for field goals twice. Still, Esiason said he thought the game was a good sign for the Patriots entering their Week 7 bye.

“I will tell you that that may have been their best win of the year simply because they were playing against a very good team in Dallas,” Esiason said. “They were playing against a team that has a plethora of offensive stars and has DeMarcus Ware as their pass rusher. That was a solid win for a team on their own field where they probably felt like they weren’t playing their best football.”

Esiason said one of the keys to the game was better play from the defense, who held Dallas to just six points off of four turnovers and limited the Cowboys to 16 points overall.

“It is a team game,” Esaison said. “The Patriots defense has been maligned. Thirty-second ranked. We all get it. We all know it. We see it. Yesterday was probably their best game as a defense, I thought. Getting the turnovers and keeping the Dallas Cowboys out of the end zone. That’s ultimately what the Patriots have always been about. Bend, bend, bend, make a turnover here or there, and then force the other team to a field goal because we know our quarterback is going to come down and score a touchdown.”

Following are more highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On the perceived lack of trust between Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo: “What the Cowboys are going through right now is kind of a weird situation between their head coach and their quarterback. I think the head coach feels like he’s putting the quarterback in bad situations early in the season. Then the quarterback has just been getting ripped left and right after they lose these games late in games. So yesterday when the game is in the balance, they have to make plays on offense, Jason Garrett basically takes the ball out of Tony Romo’s hands and plays into the hands of the New England Patriots.

“It’s weird how these teams go through emotional states and how they look at each other and coaches manage situations. If we were talking about Tony Romo’s interception late in the game or Tony Romo’s inability to find [wide receiver] Dez Bryant late in the game, then I would tell you that the shackles are off and Jason Garrett feels confident about his quarterback. But with the way the game ended in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, you can’t help but obviously see there that there’s no confidence there in Tony Romo and they were just trying to keep him out of making a major mistake there late in the game.”

On the difference between a good quarterback and a great quarterback at the end of a game: “There’s expectations. There’s expectations that they are going to get it done. It’s kind of interesting, when Brady walked on the field yesterday, and even Troy Aikman said it: ‘Is there anybody out there that doesn’t think that he’s going to get them at least into field goal range to get it into overtime?’ The answer to that was, ‘No, I think we all expect that to happen.’ Especially with the way that the defense and [Cowboys defensive coordinator] Rob Ryan decided to play it. They decided to play it all in zone. A lot could be said the way Rob Ryan played that last series and didn’t really put any pressure whatsoever on Tom Brady. You’re talking about a legendary quarterback who has done it in the biggest of spots.”

On fear of failure not affecting Tom Brady: “When you have three Super Bowls in your pockets, guys, that’s a lot of cache, that’s a lot of credibility. If you have one bad game or you make one bad move and you lose a game at home, it’s not going to kill your team. On the other side of the field, you have a guy in Tony Romo who is fighting it every single week it seems now. Especially with the way that they lost to the Jets and the way that they lost to the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago. All the stuff that surrounds him as a player, he doesn’t have that credibility. He doesn’t have the cache and the confidence and all the things Tom Brady has on his side.

“Tom has earned all of that. He’s earned the right to play the game the way he plays it. He can play carefree. He can play without worry about where he’s going to be the next week. He’s going to be the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots. God forbid anybody up there or around the NFL in any way shape or form criticize Tom Brady, and rightfully so. That’s what he’s earned.

“On the other side, it’s the complete opposite. I saw it right there because where was Dez Bryant in the second half for the Cowboys, let alone on the last drive? I will just tell you that that was clearly a decision by Jason Garrett not to put his quarterback in the situation to have to make a decision that could ultimately lose the game for him.”

On who is to blame for the fight between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz: “We all blamed Jim Harbaugh for it and we took it one step further as a matter of fact. When we played, Danny [Marino] and I were talking about this, Jim Harbaugh always had a chip on his shoulder. He wasn’t always considered that guy that was that first-round draft choice that was a Pro Bowl player. He always felt that he was the little engine that could and never got the respect. That’s the way he carried himself in a lot of our offseason stuff. He was always kind of edgy and pushy and always had an attitude.

“His dad [Jack Harbaugh] is a coach. Obviously, his brother [Ravens coach] John [Harbaugh] is doing great. He’s a coach, too. He has the coaching gene in him. He has the player gene in him, but the player gene in him isn’t the player gene from the top level down. It’s the bottom level up, where he’s always fighting the fight.

“His actions yesterday were a total embarrassment for the league. He’s got to learn how to do it. I’m not saying that there’s written protocol, but there are understandings. And the league’s tough, I get it. Everybody fights hard to win each and every week, but when you act like that, especially in a guy’s building. It wasn’t even like it was in his own building. You’re going to ask for a retaliation and that’s what they got from Jim Schwartz.”

On the Patriots’ interest in Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd: “The interesting thing is, the New England Patriots are in on this Brandon Lloyd stuff. I don’t know if they’re just sniffing around the edges or how significant it is, but Brandon Lloyd is a great wide receiver. He’s right in the midst of his prime. If you put him in that offense and he can figure it out, that would be scary. The question is, San Francisco wants him. St. Louis wants him because they have nobody. They’re looking to the future with him. They would probably sign him to a long-term extension. And then of course you have New England who would love him. And then Detroit I think would like him as well.

“This is going to be interesting come Tuesday because Tuesday is the trade deadline for Brandon Lloyd. But that’s a question of, Do you want to roll the dice with another wide receiver? What do you have to give up and what it’s going to take to get him. I don’t think it’s going to take that much to get him. … When these teams start playing off of each other, it could get pretty hairy depending on how desperate one of these teams is.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Schwartz, Tom Brady
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