Dak Prescott and the Cowboys dominated the Buccaneers on Monday night. The Dallas Cowboys offense started slowly unable to convert for a first down until their third possession. However, the Cowboys would take off and dominate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on both sides of the ball for the remainder of the game.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys Send Brady and the Bucs Home Early
Dallas Dominated From Early On
The Cowboys showed up in a big way from the first quarter on. They would lead the entire game and win 31-14. Prescott started off the game with three straight incompletions before tying a post-season record 11 consecutive completions. He also threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in the first half alone.
The Cowboys defense was fantastic all night against Tom Brady and the Bucs. Micah Parsons and company only managed two sacks against Tampa Bay but were in the backfield all night with six hits on Brady. The Buccaneers were under constant pressure and unable to settle into an offensive rhythm thanks to the pass rush.
Cowboys Crush Buccaneers Start to Finish
Both offense and defense showed up from the first quarter on. Dallas jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter. This lead would swell to 18-0 by the end of the first half. The defense completely shut down the Buccaneers holding them scoreless until the end of the third quarter.
Brady and the Buccaneers would find the endzone twice in the second half, but those efforts were too little too late. After recovering an onside kick, the Buccaneers missed on a deep shot to Mike Evans and turned the ball over on downs leaving Dallas to assume victory formation and run out the rest of the clock.
Brett Maher’s Bizarre Kicking Woes
The lone hiccup against the Buccaneers was the missed extra-point attempts by Brett Maher. Maher became the only player to miss four extra-point attempts in a single game, and cumulatively missed five in a row. This is an extremely alarming trend considering special teams will play a huge role in upcoming games. Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys must re-solidify their kicking game before facing off against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. San Francisco is playing some of the best football in the NFL and Dallas cannot afford to go into that game without a reliable kicker.
Brett Maher is the first kicker to miss 4 extra points in a regular or postseason game since the statistic was first tracked for individual players in 1932 (per @EliasSports).#DallasCowboys
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 17, 2023
Prescott’s Big Night
Prescott has come under fire since returning from his thumb surgery during the middle of the season. Since that time, Prescott has had 14 interceptions and led the NFL with 15 on the season. The Cowboys quarterback has made some very poor decisions and had some very poor luck. Multiple interceptions were from deflected passes that should have been caught. For example, Noah Brown dropped a pass that deflected off his chest pads straight into the arms of Rayshawn Jenkins who returned the interception for an overtime-winning touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Cowboys were leaning heavily on Prescott tonight after the atrocious showing against the Washington Commanders. Tampa Bay’s strength is stopping the run with Devin White, Lavonte David, and Vita Vea. Prescott’s success was crucial against Tampa Bay as Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott would have been unlikely to significantly impact the outcome of the game.
Prescott was terrific against Tampa Bay with a franchise playoff record-tying 11 straight completions. The former Mississippi State University Bulldog shredded the Buccaneers defense with 305 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. The Dallas quarterback also added 24 rush yards and a fifth score against this once-vaunted Tampa Bay defense.
Dak Prescott joined Peyton Manning (2003 Wild Card vs the Broncos) as the only players in NFL postseason history with 4 pass TD, a rush TD and 75% comp percentage in a game. pic.twitter.com/ur1e56i3kX
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2023
Overcoming Brady and Road Playoff Stigma
The Monday night victory was huge for Dallas in many ways. Brady was 7-0 in his career against the Dallas Cowboys coming into this Wildcard round. The Cowboys were able to finally beat Brady in a huge game. Dallas also overcame the long-time road playoff loss streak. The Cowboys had not won a road playoff game since 1993. This abysmal streak lasted 30 years and spanned to the Superbowl era of the 1990’s when Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith were playing for Dallas.
This huge win could get Dallas over the hump and erase the playoff choke stigma plaguing the Cowboys. This stigma includes late-season meltdowns and playoff fumbles by Tony Romo and some tough losses by Prescott at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and others. Dallas moves on and looks ahead to the San Francisco 49ers for Sunday Night Football in Santa Clara. They will look to carry this momentum and take advantage of rookie Brock Purdy and the 49ers during the divisional round.