Ryan's defense last to contain Patriots

Kirby Lee/US Presswire

Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan helmed the last defense to hold the Patriots under 30 points.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If the New England Patriots score 30 or more points during Sunday's visit from the Dallas Cowboys, they will match an NFL record by doing it in 14 consecutive regular-season games, equaling the exploits of the Greatest Show on Turf Rams during the 1999-2000 seasons.

In order to do it, the Patriots will have to post another big number against a defensive helmed by the same man who last kept New England under 30 points in a regular-season game.

Rob Ryan, then the defensive coordinator of the Browns, limited New England to 283 yards of total offense in Cleveland's 34-14 triumph last November (Ryan's brother, Rex, coach of the New York Jets, also held the Patriots below 30 in a postseason loss).

So, will the Cowboys look back at that Cleveland game for hints on how to subdue quarterback Tom Brady and the league's top passing offense? Especially considering these two teams haven't met since 2007?

"I think when you prepare for an opponent, you use all your resources at your disposal," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We watched the most recent games, the stuff from this year. If you have experience where you played against the team before, you certainly go back and watch that game to see if there’s anything that continues to relate to what that offense or defense is doing. So that’s certainly part of our preparation. I think we’re more focused on what’s going on in 2011 as much as anything else, though."

One thing to keep in mind: Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was in charge of the Browns offense that put up big numbers last November in that win. While Miami did generate 488 yards of total offense when the Patriots met his new club in both team's season-opener last month, the Dolphins scored 24 points and lost by two touchdowns.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't put too much stock in one game.

"[Ryan will] approach it based on how he personally sees it and evaluates his personnel and how they match up against ours and so forth," said Belichick. "I think we have an idea how structurally how he’ll organize the game plan or he’ll bring it all together. Now, specifically what that means, of course we’re just guessing. I think we have an understanding of generally how he works, how [Dallas head coach] Jason [Garrett] works, how [Dallas special teams coach] Joe DeCamillis [works], basically what they do, we’ve played against those guys enough times as coordinators and head coaches, seen them do enough things. The specifics of it, that always changes from week-to-week. They do a good job of that. They do a good job of game planning, they change their scheme based on who they’re playing. What we get and what they did last week are probably two different things."

Ryan being a former New England assistant (linebackers, 2000-03), he earned high praise from Belichick during a conference call with the Dallas media on Wednesday.

"I enjoyed the years that Rob was here," said Belichick. "Obviously, he comes from a great football family. Football’s important to him; he’s very knowledgeable; smart guy that has a great background in the game. He has a lot of experience and is a creative person that understands personnel and how to use the players that he has and how to defend the ones that the opponent has. He came here and brought a perspective and some ideas to our staff and defensively to me, personally, that I hadn’t really been exposed to given the ‘46’ defense and some of the things that he and Rex have done with his dad and that kind of thing.

"My background was much more from a 3-4 zone coverage standpoint from my year at Denver and years with the Giants and Cleveland. I think we had a good meshing of ideas, even though we came from different directions. In the end, we were pretty much coming to the same point, defensively, from a philosophical standpoint, which I thought was pretty interesting to me that, on the surface, it looked like two different philosophies, but really in a lot of ways we were trying to do the same thing as far as just playing team defense. It was good.”