PHILADELPHIA -- What might get Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' offense back on track? With the Dallas Cowboys (6-4) coming to town on Sunday, that is arguably the top question facing the 9-1 team.
Brady didn't throw a touchdown pass in Sunday's 17-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5), as the offense sputtered for extended stretches. Receiver Julian Edelman threw the team's lone touchdown, and this marks the first time in Brady's 20-year career that he played the entire contest and didn't lead the team in touchdown passes in a game. That covers 317 career starts, including playoffs.
Overall, this is just the fourth time Brady has started a game and didn't lead the team in touchdown passes. The other three instances were cases when he left injured (2001 AFC Championship Game; 2008 season opener) or was pulled early (Week 17, 2006).
Coach Bill Belichick previously had made the point that with some players returning to action this week (WR N'Keal Harry and TE Matt LaCosse), more reinforcements expected next week (LT Isaiah Wynn) and the continued integration of recently added players (TE Benjamin Watson, WR Mohamed Sanu), it's very much a developing picture.
It showed against the Eagles, as Brady didn't look like himself for long stretches of the action.
Describe the game in two words: Defensive turnaround. The Eagles had a 95-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 9 minutes, 33 seconds from the first quarter into the second -- which was the longest drive New England has allowed all season. But the Patriots' defense responded in a big way after that, with a plan that featured a heavy emphasis on covering Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, giving the inconsistent offense time to generate just enough of the momentum it needed (going to tempo at the start of the third quarter provided a temporary spark).
Bold prediction for next week: With 2018 first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn set to be activated off injured reserve and return to his spot at left tackle, the one-dimensional, pass-based offense will finally find its groove with some more balance in the run game. Wynn, if he can stay healthy, is the key piece because he can provide more comfort on Brady's blindside. Veteran Marshall Newhouse has competed in his place, but Wynn is a decisive upgrade.
Promising trend. Veteran Nick Folk has helped settle things down with the Patriots' previously shaky kicking situation after Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve. He made field goals of 35, 22 and 39 yards in Sunday's first half, in some windy conditions.
Biggest hole in the game plan: While the Patriots are easing 2019 first-round draft pick N'Keal Harry into the mix, they perhaps could have used him on a fade route in the red zone. Harry made his debut after opening the season on injured reserve. He played 32 of 74 snaps (including a 2-point conversion) and finished with three catches for 18 yards. He also played on the punt return unit in a rush-based role.