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Winning is all that matters to Brady

FOXBOROUGH -- Once again, Tom Brady was good when he needed to be. And that was good enough to get another win.

Brady's Patriots improved to 8-2 for just the second time in franchise history, while the fourth-year quarterback improved his record as a starter to 28-12, tying him with Kurt Warner for the highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks (.700).

Brady completed only 15 of 34 passes, for 212 yards and no touchdowns, in New England's 12-0 win over the Dallas Cowboys last night at Gillette Stadium, but he hit on a 46-yard pass to Deion Branch to set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 57-yard pass to David Givens to set up an Antowain Smith touchdown.

Guess if you can't be good all the time, be good at the right time.

Several times the Patriots tried to attack Dallas's cornerbacks deep. "I think we had an opportunity to take some shots, especially when they were blitzing," Brady said. "I think if we hit a few more of them then the game wouldn't have been that close. That was part of the plan coming in. I think each week we're really trying to expand the field and we have guys that can come out and make plays. the more guys you can spread throughout the field, the easier it is to find those zones."

Against the Cowboys' vaunted pass rush, Brady was sacked just twice and on most of his attempts had ample time to pick out a receiver.

New England often kept tight ends Christian Fauria and Daniel Graham and backs Smith and Kevin Faulk in to protect. "We had a hell of a lot of guys protecting," Brady said. "As many as we could."

Johnson chips in Ted Johnson estimated he played about 10 plays in his first game back since breaking his left foot in the season opener. "It felt good to be out there and play football again," Johnson said. "It was good just to play. I'm certainly at peace with my injuries this year." . . . Givens suffered a right leg injury and did not play most of the second half . . . Rookie speedster Bethel Johnson last week recalled the first time he opposed Dallas rookie cornerback Terence Newman, who can get from point A to point B fairly quickly himself. It was a Big 12 game and both were juniors, Johnson at Texas A&M, Newman, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, at Kansas State. "He didn't really play that much," Johnson said. "But I had seen him run track, so I knew he was fast. I don't think they knew how to use him. They probably thought he was just another track guy. He's a much better player now than he was in college." So is Johnson, the Patriots' fourth receiver and leading kick returner. "He has probably come further than anybody this year," coach Bill Belichick said of the second-round pick. "Knowing how to be a receiver, reading coverages, reading releases, making adjustments on routes -- I think he's probably made as much progress as any player on this team. That's not saying that he's arrived. He still has a long way to go." . . . It was less than two months ago that Tom Ashworth was merely filling in for Adrian Klemm at right tackle. Now it's his job. And he's doing it well enough not to remind everyone that he's new to the gig. "Tom has held up in there pretty well," Belichick said. "Some games, some plays are better than others. I think overall he's done a pretty solid job for us. It hasn't been a major problem." . . . What has been a concern is the number of penalties the Patriots have committed this season. They were flagged a season-high 14 times against Denver Nov. 3, and coming into yesterday's games, New England ranked third in the league in that department (behind Oakland and Washington). "I'm surprised that, frankly, we've been able to overcome it," Belichick said. Last night they were flagged seven times for 84 yards.

Bills due Even with all the connections on the field (11 Patriots once played for Bill Parcells) and on the sideline (between the two teams, a total of nine coaches worked together), Belichick said last week that, compared to the Giants, Browns, Jets, and Patriots that participated in the previous Bill Battles and Tuna Bowls, New England and Dallas have few similarities.

"When I was in Cleveland and we played the Giants in 1991, I think it was the fourth or the fifth game of the year, that was virtually the same team with the same plays, the same system, the same everything that they had the year before, the same players. There were very few new faces on the team," Belichick said. "The system was identical to what was there just a few months earlier when I was there. The similarities between New England and the Jets when Al [Groh] was at the Jets, where, again, it was the same terminology and it was almost on the verge of an intersquad scrimmage.

"This is a totally different situation," said Belichick. "Bill and I haven't coached together in five years, and a lot has changed in five years."

A Brown out Troy Brown was among the Patriots' eight inactives for last night's game. The receiver had been limited in practice last week with the same ankle/shin injury that nearly kept him out of the Nov. 3 game at Denver and was a "game-time decision." New England, already short a receiver after David Patten went on injured reserve Nov. 7 and with Chas Gessner not yet ready to go, signed Jamin Elliot from the practice squad. Fred McCrary (leg) did not practice last week and was inactive. Starting receiver Joey Galloway (quadriceps) was inactive for Dallas . . . Long before Belichick and Parcells, the Cowboys had a connection with the Patriots. Dallas defeated New England, 44-21, Oct. 24, 1971, in the first game at Texas Stadium in Irving. The Cowboys went on to win the next eight games against the Patriots as well, until New England ended the losing streak with a 13-6 win at Foxboro Stadium in 1999, the last time these teams had met before last night . . . Belichick improved to 3-2 in head-to-head matchups with Parcells. In all five games, Belichick's team has had home-field advantage . . . New England came in 2-6 against Parcells, including 2-4 in Tuna Bowls against the Jets . . . The Patriots improved to 6-9 in games following the bye week since its inception in 1990. They are 2-2 under Belichick.

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Patriots
12
Cowboys
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Next game:
Nov. 23 at Houston, 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4 Radio: WBCN (104.1)

afc east standings
  W L T Pct. PF PA
Patriots 8 2 0 .800 19.6 15.5
Dolphins 6 4 0 .600 17.7 14.7
Bills 4 6 0 .400 15.9 17.0
Jets 3 7 0 .300 19.7 21.1
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