We had all been looking forward to it for months, but yesterday it finally happened. At Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, the defending Super Bowl champions pitted the Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys. It was not a walk-over of the Bucs, but a haunting game of football that remained exciting until the very last seconds. A final one-minute drive from Tom Brady finally sealed the fate of the brave Cowboys. They lost by a small margin: 29-31.
Fireworks in the first half
A jam-packed Raymond James Stadium saw both teams start their season slowly. Both the Buccaneers – who had lost the toss – and the Cowboys had to finish their first drive with a point. Then the fun started. Tom Brady put together a solid drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin. The first touchdown of the new season was a fact! However, the Cowboys immediately responded to Tampa Bay with a touchdown of their own. Dak Prescott – back on the field after missing much of last season with a horrendous injury – completed a whopping eight passes in a row. The eighth was one to a free run Ceedee Lamb who ran the ball in for six points.
The Buccaneers took the lead again with a touchdown from good old Rob Gronkowski. It wouldn’t be the last time the classic Brady-Gronk connection would pay off in this game. Gronk would eventually put on 90 receiving yards and two touchdowns. A throwback game for the 32-year-old tight end. Kicker Greg Zuerlein failed to close the deficit when he missed a field goal from 31 yards, but the Cowboys fought their way back into the game when Demarcus Lawrence cleared the ball from Ronald Jones’ hands.hit and the Cowboys recovered the ball. Dak Prescott didn’t mind a too low snap in the ensuing drive, calmly picked up the ball from the field and threw a touchdown to Amari Cooper. However, Greg was not “the leg” during the first half and missed the extra point.
The Buccaneers lead
The spectacle of the first half continued as Tom Brady threw his first interception of the evening when Leonard Fournette slipped a ball through his hands and the ball landed right into the hands of Trevon Diggs. However, Brady wouldn’t be Brady if he didn’t just recover in the ensuing drive as if nothing had happened. With a beautiful deep ball from 47 yards he found the reborn Antonio Brown who could put the touchdown on his name. Brown also appeared to have stepped into a time machine, with a whopping 121 receiving yards.
Before half time, the Cowboys again narrowed the deficit with a field goal, but Greg Zuerlein missed for the second time. Although it is fair to say that this attempt was a lot more difficult. The goalposts were 60 yards away from Zuerlein.
In the third quarter, the Buccaneers finally seemed to distance themselves from the Cowboys. Zuerlein did manage to score a field goal, but in the Cowboys’ next drive things went wrong for Dak and co. A pass through the middle to Ceedee Lamb was intercepted by Carlton Davis, who also ran the ball 25 yards back. It was a present that Tom Brady was happy to unwrap. He again found his best friend Gronkowski in the end zone and gave the Bucs a nine point lead.
Prescott didn’t want to resign himself to the situation. He just kept launching passes. In total, he would end up with 58 attempts. Of which, moreover, 42 ended up in the hands of a receiver. There was no real running game at Dallas on Thursday night. And, Dak must have thought, as long as he fires enough bullets at his fantastic receiver corps, he should be fine. With a beautiful pass from 21 yards, he found Amari Cooper who caught his second touchdown of the evening.
The Cowboys now took over and forced another turnover at the Bucs. Chris Godwin caught a pass from Brady and spun his way to the 2-yard line, where Damonae Kazee slammed the ball out of his hands. “Them Boys” took over possession and even took the lead. Greg Zuerlein managed another field goal. However, the joy at Dak and co quickly gave way to stress, because the clock still showed one minute and 39 seconds.
Tom Brady grabbed the ball and knew he had plenty of time to cross the field. With passes to Giovanni Bernard, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, the Bucs already gained quite a bit of ground. However, it was a 24-yard bomb to Chris Godwin that killed the Cowboys. Godwin won the duel from his attacker and gave Tampa Bay the perfect fielding position. Ryan Succop didn’t miss from 36 yards and gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the win in this Thursday night thriller!
- Passing: Dak Prescott, 42/58, 403 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
- Rushing: Ezekiel Elliott, 11 carries, 33 yards
- Receiving: Amari Cooper, 13 catches, 139 yards, 2 TDs
- CeeDee Lamb, seven catches, 104 yards, 1 TD
- Passing: Tom Brady, 32/50, 379 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
- Rushing: Leonard Fournette, nine carries, 32 yards
- Receiving: Antonio Brown, five catches, 121 yards, 1 TD
- Chris Godwin, nine catches, 105 yards, 1 TD
- Rob Gronkowski, eight catches, 90 yards, 2 TDs
The NFL season has now really kicked off! Read here the preview for our Game of the Week: Browns against the Chiefs!