The Buccaneers went into Dallas and dismantled the Cowboys in a 19-3 win to open the 2022 season and get their first win.
It was a slow start for the Buccaneer offense, but once they got going, the offense moved the ball just enough to get the points they needed to win the game. Tampa Bay finished with 347 yards of offense, with 152 on the ground.
Last season, this was a Cowboy defense in the top ten in run defense. The Bucs have struggled to run the ball consistently the previous seasons, but on Sunday night, the Bucs gashed the Cowboy’s defense for 160 yards as they controlled the game from the second quarter on. Leonard Fournette had 127 yards rushing and averaged six yards a carry. A career high for Fournette in a Buccaneer uniform.
Fournette ran 15 times for 111 yards to the left side alone behind Smith, Wells, and the rookie Luke Goedecke.
Injuries And Stalled Drives Mark The Buccaneers’ Opening Win
The injury bug bit the Bucs again along the offensive line as left tackle Donovan Smith went down with an elbow injury after he let Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons get the sack on Tom Brady. Josh Wells replaced Smith and had a rough start, but he settled down and did a respectable job protecting Brady’s blind side the rest of the game with some help from the tight ends. Brady looked sharp early on and had a lot of zip on the ball.
Brady seemed to be in synch early with his receivers. Chris Godwin caught the first pass of the game from Brady but did leave the game with a hamstring injury late in the first half. Mike Evans had five catches and caught the lone Buccaneers touchdown. Newcomer Julio Jones looks like a good fit for the offense. He had three catches for 69 yards and carried the ball twice for 17 yards. One thing that this Buccaneers offense must get figured out is how to finish drives. Let’s hope that this will be just an issue for one game.
Five times in the first half, the Buccaneers moved the ball into Dallas territory. The Bucs drove the ball to the Cowboys’ 26, 20, 18, 11, and 29-yard line only to see the drives stall and have to settle for four Ryan Succop field goals. With the difficult schedule for Tampa Bay, they will have to do a better job at finishing drives to have the success they want this season. As Tom Brady said in his post-game interview, “We have a lot to clean up.”
With A Poor Offense, The Buccaneers’ Defense Stole The Show
The defense stole the show on opening night as they stymied the Cowboy’s offense all night long. The Dallas offense was only able to generate 244 yards of offense, many of those yards late in the fourth quarter when the game had already been won. The Buccaneers defense harassed Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott all night, as he went 14/29 for 134 yards with one interception.
Late in the game, Shaq Barrett hit Prescott’s throwing hand and he had to leave the game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Prescott suffered a hand injury and would need surgery. He is expected to miss a few weeks. Cee Dee Lamb was held to two catches on 11 targets. The defense also held the Cowboys duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to 60 yards on the ground. Lavonte David led the charge for the Buccaneer defense with two sacks and just missed intercepting a Prescott pass.
This game also saw a significant offensive change for the Buccaneers as they ran the ball more than we have seen them do in the past. Head coach Todd Bowles indicated during training camp that the team would emphasize the run more, and that’s what they did. Tampa ran the ball 33 times while attempting 27 passes. On a night where Tom Brady was good but not great, the defense shined as they shut down the number one offense from last season.
Our BucsBanner player of the game:
Running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette had 21 carries for 127 yards and averaged six yards a carry. Fournette also caught two passes for ten yards.
Up next, the New Orleans Saints on the road, a team that Tom Brady has not beaten in the regular season since becoming a Buccaneer. This game will also have some extra juice as the Bucs will face their former teammate quarterback Jameis Winston.