The wideouts and the offensive line were Dallas’ main preseason worries. If this opener is any indication, they have plenty to worry about. Dak Prescott will also miss time with a hand injury.
The Cowboys couldn’t muster much of an offensive threat in a 19-3 loss to the Buccaneers in front of 93,797 fans. The offensive line did well, but steadiness and penalties were issues.
Dak Prescott, who wasn’t sharp, completed 14 of 29 passes for 134 yards and a passing rating of 47.2. CeeDee Lamb caught two passes for 29 yards despite being targeted 11 times.
X-ray findings are pending. Prescott left the game with five minutes left with a throwing hand injury. Dak said after the game he’ll have thumb surgery, and the Cowboys said he’ll miss a few matches.
Ezekiel Elliott averaged 5.2 yards per run on offense. After much hype about leaning on the running game, Elliott only ran 10 times for 52 yards. Tony Pollard gained 8 yards on six rushes (1.3 average) and added 14 yards on two catches.
Micah Parsons, last season’s Defensive Rookie Player of the Year, spearheaded the Cowboys’ defense, which kept the game close. Tom Brady passed for 212 yards and a touchdown for an 87.3 rating.
Leonard Fournette gained 127 yards on 21 carries. He and the Buccaneers’ defense, which limited Dallas to 244 yards, won. Tampa Bay gained 347 yards.
Brett Maher’s 51-yard field goal opened the contest. Ryan Succop of Tampa Bay kicked a 44-yard field goal.
Connor McGovern injured his ankle on the Cowboys’ first possession. After losing Tyron Smith, the offensive line couldn’t afford to lose another starter.
Succop hit his second consecutive field goal from 38 yards, giving the Buccaneers an early lead.
After Parsons pressured Tom Brady on second, Dallas got a break when Succop missed wide left. The Cowboys couldn’t capitalize on the error.
On third-and-10 at his own 26-yard line, Prescott was picked off by Tampa Bay safety Antoine Winfield, setting up Dallas at the 23-yard line. Parsons’ second sack of the night forced another field goal attempt. Succop made a 29-yarder.
Tampa Bay has another field goal chance. Succop’s 47-yard kickoff return with 14 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Buccaneers a 12-3 lead at halftime.
The Cowboys were lucky to be down by only nine. At halftime, the Buccaneers had 294 yards to the Cowboys’ 94, with only 53 passing.
The Buccaneers were relentless in their pursuit of the goal line, and eventually, they were able to break through. With nearly eight minutes left in the first quarter, the Buccaneers got the ball at their own 10-yard line and quickly scored on three consecutive Fournette runs for 37 yards. Then it was Brady’s time as he completed 4 of 5 throws for 39 minutes, the last of which was a meets the following criteria toss to Keenan Allen on the left side of the goal line for the game’s only touchdown.
This gave the Buccaneers a seemingly insurmountable 19-3 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Prescott’s pass to rookie Dennis Houston on fourth-and-2 at the Bucs’ 41-yard line was tipped and incomplete. Donovan Wilson intercepted Brady on Tampa Bay’s next play, giving Dallas the ball at its own 48-yard line.
Still unable to score, the Cowboys’ night got worse when Prescott left the game in the fourth quarter after his throwing hand was hit twice. After Cooper Rush entered the game, he left.
Time couldn’t pass fast enough. The Cowboys entered Week 2 of the 2022 season with more questions than usual.