TAMPA BAY, FL- The NFL season kicked off last night with the Cowboys losing a close game to the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dallas started the game on defense, facing Tom Brady and Company on their first possession which forced Tampa to punt. The Tampa Bay punter had an incredible night pinning the Cowboys inside the 10 yard line 4 times.
After Dallas punted the ball back to Tampa, Tom Brady drove the Bucs down the field and ended the drive with a 5 yard pass to Chris Godwin and after the kick, the Tampa took a 0-7 lead.
The ensuing Cowboy drive was fruitful for the Boys as Dak Prescott found Ceedee Lamb for a 22-yard touchdown over the left pylon. Tampa Bay corner Sean Murphy-Bunting would be injured on this play and did not return to the game. A good kick tied the score 7-7.
The first quarter ended as Tampa Bay had the ball and would punt early in the 2nd quarter.
Dallas, starting from their own 5-yard line had a very short drive that only moved the ball 7 yards and punted back to Tampa.
A good return by Tampa Bay’s Mickens, which was pushed by a holding call ended with a short 2-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski and a good extra point made the score 7-14.
Dallas’ next drive would start with a 22-yard pass play to Ceedee Lamb and a defensive pass interference call that put the Boys on their own 47. This drive ended ended with a field goal attempt that was wide left and kept the score 7-14.
The ensuing Tampa Bay drive would only get 1 play as defensive end Demarcus Lawrence would force running back Ronald Jones to fumble the ball which would be recovered by defensive end Randy Gregory.
Following the fumble, Dak Prescott would find Amari Cooper in the endzone for a short 5-yard score. Greg Zuerlein would miss the extra point and Dallas finds themselves down 13-14.
Another break for Dallas as Brady tossed a pass to running back Leonard Fournette. The pass went through Fournette’s hands and was basically handed to Trevon Diggs. This would be the first interception of the game for Tom Brady.
Dallas gained 4 yards and ended up with a field goal pushing Dallas ahead 16-14 with about 3 minutes.
This led would be short lives as Brady would take 38 seconds and put Antonio Brown in the endzone from 47-yards out making the score 16-21.
Dallas next drive had the team try a 60-yard field goal with 20 seconds left which was short and give Brady the ball, at the 50 yard line, with 15 seconds. Brady would heave a Hail Mary to the endzone that ended up in Dallas’ Jourdan Lewis’ hands and was returned 66 yards that ended the 1st half.
Dallas received the second half kickoff. This drive was highlighted by a 16-yard pass to Amari Cooper and a 16-yard defensive pass interference by Tampa Bay’s Adams. Dallas got down to the red zone but couldn’t put up a touchdown and settled for a field goal, making the score 19-21.
A quick 3 play drive by Tampa Bay and a Dallas drive stalled by Prescott’s first interception set up Tampa’s next touchdown to Gronkowski which put the Bucs up 19-28.
The Boys next drive started on their own 25 yard line, lasted 10 plays and went 75 yards, ending with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper pushing Dallas to within 2 points, 26-28.
Tom Brady set up shop of the Tampa 37 yard line. After 66 yards and short pass to Chris Godwin to the 2 yard line, Dallas safety Damontae Kazee put his helmet right on the ball which forced Godwin to fumble. Dallas corner Jourdan Lewis, who had one of the other interceptions of the game, scooped the ball and Dallas had a chance.
Starting at the Dallas 10 yard line and had a big 31-yard pass play to none other than Ceedee Lamb. After a holding penalty Dallas had to send Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein out again to attempt a 48-yard field goal which was dead center through the uprights. Dallas takes the lead, 29-28 with 1:29 left in the game.
The only issue now is that Tom Brady is Tom Brady and giving him the ball with that much time doesn’t work out for many teams.
It nearly did as cornerback Trevon Diggs nearly had an interception that would’ve sealed the game. Off his fingertips, Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans, who had a very quiet night would’ve been gone had he gotten his hands on it.
Two big plays, a 20-yard pass to Gronkowski and a very suspect no-call for offensive pass interference on Chris Godwin set the Bucs up for the game winning field goal making the score 29-31.
Dallas had about 2 seconds left for a hope and a prayer that rarely works out.
Dallas may have lost and there’s no such thing as a moral victory, but Cowboy fans should be excited after watched a very young defense take it to the Champs like they did. The Cowboys finished with 4 takeaways, 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries, and another positive was how often Dallas defenders would be ripping at the ball.
Offensively, Dak Prescott picked up where he left off last season putting up 403 yards. Ezekiel Elliott didn’t have the best game, Elliott had 11 rushes for 33 yards but that comes from more of what the Tampa defense was giving the Cowboys.
Running at Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Devin White, LeVonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Shaq Barrett is a tough draw.
Dan Quinn seems to have the defense playing well and all the young guys who got to place earned much needed game time. Rookies Osa Odighizuwa and Micah Parsons started and Quinton Bohanna got into the game as well.
Either way, Dallas left 7 points on the field with 2 missed field goals and a missed extra point. Dallas need to start getting 7 points instead of 3 when they make it to the red zone.
Dallas heads out west to Los Angeles to take on the Justin Herbert led Chargers. Herbert had a very successful rookie season last year and they have a good running back in Austin Eckler and a top receiver in Keenan Allen.
The Cowboys will certainly have a decent challenge ahead and hopefully, All-Pro guard Zack Martin will come off the COVID list.