Cowboys at Buccaneers rating: Dallas offense explodes en route to win, Tampa Bay falls flat

The Dallas Cowboys are transferring on to the divisional spherical after a convincing win at Raymond James Stadium the place they took down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to wrap up Super Wild Card Weekend, 31-14.

Both offenses have been sluggish out of the gate as every registered consecutive three-and-outs to start the sport. Dallas then got here alive on its third possession of the night, touring 80 yards on seven performs as Dak Prescott linked with Dalton Schultz for the sport’s first landing. That did appear to open the flood gates as Tampa Bay then began transferring the ball and acquired all the best way to the Cowboys five-yard line. However, it was at that time when Tom Brady threw an interception ultimately zone to Jayron Kearse. That was one of many few profitable Bucs possessions of the night time and their solely shot at scoring when the sport was nonetheless inside attain. From there, Dallas scored three touchdowns on consecutive drives to assist set up a 24-point lead.

Even when Tampa Bay lastly discovered the tip zone at the tip of the third quarter with a Brady 30-yard landing move to Julio Jones, the Cowboys answered with a nine-play, 66-yard landing drive to go up 31-6. That actually eliminates any slight inkling that Brady might pull one other miraculous comeback out of his helmet.

Prescott completed with an outstanding stat line. He was 25 of 33 for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns. He additionally rushed for a rating and added 24 yards on the bottom. Schultz was his go-to goal on the night time, catching seven of his eight targets for a team-high 95 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Brady was 35 of 66 for 351 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

For a extra detailed breakdown of how this recreation unfolded, try our takeaways under.

Why the Cowboys received

For a minute, it seemed like Dallas was going to roll out a continuation of the Week 18 dud they’d towards Washington. Their first possession lasted roughly 10 seconds earlier than punting the ball away, they usually had one other three-and-out on the next drive. During that stretch, Dak Prescott was unable to full a move. And then the change was flipped.

The Cowboys offense got here alive, and it was thanks to the arm of Prescott that ripped off 11-straight completions, which have been a brand new franchise playoff report. During that run, he performed consecutive 80-yard landing drives. The first concluded with a landing to Dalton Schultz and Prescott then ran it in himself on a nifty fourth-and-goal play-call by Mike McCarthy. During that 11 completion streak, Prescott threw for 135 yards and a landing, whereas additionally including that speeding rating.

Prescott did not decelerate after that both, tossing one other landing earlier than halftime and one other proper after, making it 4 consecutive landing drives to assist Dallas roll on a 24-0 run. Those scoring drives additionally weren’t layups both as they traveled 80, 80, 91, and 86 yards, slicing up this Tampa Bay protection up and down the sphere. That lead proved to be greater than sufficient to maintain a robust distance in entrance of Bucs. Even after they did lastly get into the tip zone, Dallas made positive to snuff out any spark they’d as they rapidly answered with a 66-yard landing drive to go up 31-6.

After that preliminary sluggish begin on the opening two drives, Dallas’ offense was additionally sturdy in crucial conditions, changing seven of their 11 third down conditions and each fourth down makes an attempt. They have been additionally profitable in all 4 of their purple zone journeys, whereas the protection held the Bucs out of the tip zone on two of their three journeys.

As it particularly relates to Prescott, it is usually notable that he didn’t throw a single interception on this recreation. That had been a difficulty for him all through the common season, being tied for essentially the most interceptions within the league regardless of lacking 5 video games due to harm. If he can proceed to maintain the ball away from the opposition, Dallas will proceed to be harmful.

The solely actual damaging side of this recreation on the Cowboys facet of issues got here on particular groups with kicker Brett Maher, who missed 4 additional level makes an attempt.

Why the Buccaneers misplaced

The massive query surrounding the Buccaneers coming into these playoffs was whether or not or not they have been a real postseason menace or a mere comfort winner of a dreadful division. From what we noticed on Monday night time, Tampa Bay did not seem like a respectable playoff contender by any stretch of the creativeness.

The offense was tremendously flat and Tom Brady did appear to battle to discover any kind of rapport along with his move catchers — particularly Mike Evans — early. As the Cowboys rolled out to a 24-0 lead, the Bucs offense punted 5 occasions (three three-and-outs), had an interception ultimately zone, and have been unable to rating earlier than time ran out within the first half. By the time they really acquired on the scoreboard, the sport was already out of attain and people holding out hope of a comeback have been merely doing so due to the quarterback’s résumé moderately than what the present product on the sphere was exhibiting us they have been.

As has been the case all through the season, the working recreation was nonexistent for Tampa Bay, which naturally impacts how defenses play towards the move. Even earlier than the Bucs deserted the run to try to throw themselves again into this matchup, they weren’t getting a lot of something out of a backfield that rushed for twenty-four yards on seven carries within the first half.

While the offense continued to have its justifiable share of points, the protection did not precisely reply the bell both. They could not get off the sphere as Dallas carved them up for lengthy, soul-crushing drives, and significantly broke down in key areas of the sphere. The whole protection bit on Dak Prescott’s keeper landing run as nobody adopted him as he rolled out to his left and simply walked in for a landing. One of the largest back-breaking moments on this loss got here after Tampa Bay lastly acquired into the tip zone thanks to a 30-yard landing from Brady to Julio Jones. Dallas rapidly moved down the sphere and acquired to the Buccaneers 18-yard line earlier than deciding to go for it on fourth down. On that play, there was an entire breakdown in protection that left CeeDee Lamb wide-open for the landing that put Tampa down by 25.

This is the fourth one-and-done playoff journey for Tom Brady in his profession. Now, all eyes shall be on the quarterback and what he’ll do subsequent. While there shall be loads of time to dissect all that, this was a recreation — and a season — to neglect for TB12.

Turning level

As is the case in most video games, there have been a handful of key swings on this recreation. Brady’s finish zone interception was naturally an enormous pace bump that blew out the tires of the Bucs offense. That was his first purple zone interception since he joined Tampa Bay and snapped the longest streak in NFL historical past (407 makes an attempt) of now throwing a decide within the purple zone.

With that turnover being sandwiched between two Cowboys touchdowns, it exacerbated the miscue much more.

While that swing was on the quarterback, there was additionally a choice by Todd Bowles within the first half that deserves some second-guessing. On the possession following that interception, the Bucs discovered themselves down by 12 however discovering some rhythm offensively. After beginning at their very own 25-yard line, they introduced the ball to midfield and confronted a fourth-and-3 scenario, the place Bowles elected to ship out the punting unit. Given that the offense had began to present indicators of life and the place they have been on the sphere, that ought to have been a second to maintain the unit on the sphere and go for it.

Instead, they gave the ball again, and Dallas marched 91 yards down the sphere and went up by 18 factors. In a playoff setting like this recreation, a bit of aggressiveness particularly when your crew began to construct some momentum would’ve been the savvy transfer there by Bowles moderately than enjoying it conservatively.

Play of the sport

Prescott’s second passing landing of the night time was arguably his most spectacular. With his preliminary reads bottled up and stress developing the center, he was compelled out to his left and was rolling in the direction of the sideline earlier than contorting his physique to make an off-balanced throw that zipped proper into the arms of Schulz. That concluded a 91-yard landing drive proper earlier than halftime that gave Dallas all of the cushion they’d want to make sure the win.

Prescott’s 4 passing touchdowns on this recreation tied a Cowboys playoff as he joined legends Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Prescott additionally had the best passer ranking (143.3) in a recreation in Cowboys playoff historical past (min. 20 makes an attempt).

What’s subsequent

From right here, the Cowboys will gear up for his or her divisional spherical matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium subsequent Sunday at 6:30 pm ET. As for the Buccaneers, they’re about to enter what’s poised to be a transformative offseason as Brady, who is ready to hit free company, decides his subsequent transfer.

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