Tom Brady continues to prove why he is the GOAT. He once again took the Bucs down the field in one minute and thirty-four seconds and got the team in position for a Ryan Succop 34 yard field goal. That would prove to be the game-winner in the Bucs 31-29 win on Thursday Night.
Not too many quarterbacks could have done that or would have done that. But this is Tom Brady we are talking about, and he has done this repeatedly throughout his career.
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Dak Prescott was impressive, as he moved the Dallas offense down the field at will against the Bucs defense. Moreover, you would have never have known that this was the first game Dak had played since last October.
Prescott and Amari, Cooper, Michael Gallop, and CeeDee Lamb did enough for the Cowboys to win. However, Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal and an extra point, which proved to be the difference in the Bucs 31-29 win game.
Here is an interesting factoid about this game. The Bucs are the first team in NFL history to have over 100 yards in penalties, committing four turnovers, allowing 450 yards of offense, and still win the game.
Both offenses looked way ahead of the defenses as they were able to move the ball up and down the field at will in the first part of the game.
Let’s look at some of the highs and lows from Thursday night’s season-opening win:
Tom Brady threw two interceptions. One went off the hands of Leonard Fournette. The other was on a Hail Mary play in the end zone at the end of the first half.
Just when you think that Ronald Jones has turned the corner, he takes a step back. Jones had a critical fumble early in the game that gave Dallas the ball back deep in Bucs territory. We did not see Jones the rest of the night as he finished with 14 yards on four carries. When asked about the Jones fumble, Arians said Jones couldn’t get over the fumble mentally. That’s why he stayed on the bench.
We had reported early in training camp that Antonio Brown was looking like the best wide receiver in training camp. Brown was the best wide receiver for the Bucs last night. He led the team with four catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Special teams had their most complete game since I don’t know when. Ryan Succop had the game-winning 34-yard field goal. Bradley Pinion averaged 49 yards a punt on six punts, and Jayden Mickens was fantastic in the return game. Mickens averaged 30 yards per kick return and ten yards per punt return to give the Bucs excellent field position all night long.
Carlton Davis was the best defensive player for the Bucs. He had the lone interception of Dak Prescott and held his own in the secondary.
The Bucs run defense picked up where it left off last season, holding Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards and the Cowboys running attack to 60 yards.
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I have to be honest and tell it like it is. The Buccaneer secondary was awful against the Cowboys. To start the game, they were missing Jordan Whitehead, who was out with an injury. Then Sean Murphy-Bunting hurt his elbow in a collision with teammate Antione Winfield Jr. in the end zone. That forced Andrew Adams into action. That group of DB’s played a ton of minutes in the second half. Dee Delaney was the only DB on the active roster that didn’t play.
This week, Todd Bowles has his work cut out for him, as the defense had no answers for the wide receiver screen passes that Prescott threw all night long.
Chris Godwin had a huge fumble in the second half just as he was about to cross the goal line. Godwin, fighting to get into the end zone, was stripped of the ball, and Dallas took over offensively, stopping what surely would have been a Buccaneer touchdown.
The Bucs had over 100 yards in penalties, and most of those were on the defensive side of the ball; nevertheless, a lot of those were pass interference calls that should not have been called.
Outside of Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, who had the games only sack, and Joe Tryon-Soyinka, the pressure on Dak Prescott left a lot to be desired. One of the hallmarks of the Bucs defense a year ago was getting pressure on the quarterback during the playoffs. That didn’t happen consistently against the Cowboys on Thursday.
What was most shocking was that Zach Martin, the Cowboy’s best offensive linemen, did not play due to COVID protocols, and the Bucs still couldn’t muster a consistent pass rush.
All in all, it was a very entertaining game and a great way to open up the season for the defending Super Bowl champions. The Bucs may have themselves a lot of games like this one this upcoming season, as the Super Bowl Champions always get everyone’s best shot.
On this night, however, Dallas was the better team and deserved to win. Thanks to Tom Brady, that didn’t happen.
Next Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons will be at Raymond James Stadium to play the Bucs in a 4 PM kickoff.