Patriots-Cowboys matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Oct. 12, 2011 @ 6:11 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Six game between the Patriots and Cowboys:

Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. Patriots OTs Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer

Ware, who has five sacks through four games, might be the best pass rusher the Patriots will see all season long.

New England is not only superb at protecting Tom Brady, but he gets rid of the ball so quickly that it's difficult for defenses to put him on the turf. The Jets had success last Sunday, sacking Brady four times.

Ware has great balance and is very relentless getting after the passer. He is also effective batting down passes and covering short passes, something the Patriots like to use in their offense. Ware primarily rushes from the right side, meaning he will go up against Light. The veteran has given up only half a sack this season, but he does have two holding penalties.

Ware will move around and test Vollmer, assuming he is healthy. The third-year tackle missed the past two games with a back injury. Rookie OT Nate Solder has played well when filling in, but he is much better as a run blocker than as a pass protector. Whichever tackle is responsible for Ware needs to be quick to counter Ware's first step.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will do everything he can to rattle Brady — look no further than Week Nine last season when Ryan was coordinator for the Browns in Cleveland's 34-14 win over the Patriots — and Ware is key to that. The Cowboys like to blitz to give Ware one-on-one opportunities, but that might be difficult against Brady, who exploits defenses that blitz him often.

Brady knows he will have to keep an eye on Ware before every play.

"He's powerful, he's fast off the edge, he's got a bunch of different moves. It's not like you just set on the speed-rush and he'll speed-rush you and then he'll power you right into the quarterback," Brady told reporters on Wednesday. "If he gets going early he's going to be a problem all day, so we've got to make sure we really account for him on every play."