Dak Prescott was nearly flawless and the defense was up to the challenge as the Dallas Cowboys defeated Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, 31-14.
Prescott appeared to reverse the misfortune of last season’s playoff loss to turn in a dominating performance against a Buccaneers defense that was ninth in yards allowed and 13th in points allowed during the regular season. He got off to a good start with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz in the first quarter and never looked back from there.
The former Mississippi State standout ran for a goal-line touchdown to cap a 15-play drive in the second quarter and followed it up with another touchdown pass to Schultz to take an 18-0 lead at the half. He became the first Cowboys quarterback to complete 11 consecutive passes, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
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Brett Maher somehow missed three straight extra point attempts, and then a fourth after Prescott found Michael Gallup for a third-quarter touchdown. But special teams mistakes thankfully didn’t hinder Dallas’ performance that night.
Putting the dagger in the Buccaneers’ heart, Prescott threw his fourth touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb in the fourth quarter to make it 31-6.
Prescott finished 25 of 33 with 305 passing yards and four touchdown passes. He had 25 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Schultz led the Cowboys with seven receptions for 95 yards and two scores.
Dallas would stop Brady and the Buccaneers from trying to apply any pressure. The team only allowed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones late in the third and a touchdown to Cameron Brate in the fourth quarter.
Brady threw a red zone interception to Jayron Kearse. It was Brady’s first red zone interception since he joined the Buccaneers. He then turned the ball over on red zone downs in the fourth quarter.
Brady was 35-for-66 with 351 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Chris Godwin led the Buccaneers with 10 receptions for 85 yards. Jones had seven receptions for 74 yards.
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Dallas will go on to play the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. The Cowboys haven’t reached the NFC Championship since the 1995 season, the last time the team won the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay enters the offseason with a cloudy future.
Brady is set for free agency again as he ponders whether to potentially play another season for another team or retire. He hasn’t said one way or the other.
There are reportedly several teams interested in Brady’s services for the 2023 season even though he turns 46. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport explained the potential options Brady has before him on Sunday.
«Tom Brady is a free agent after this season. He’ll be 46 and I’d say there’s a chance he won’t return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even though they really want him back and are working hard to get him back.» Rapoport explained.
The NFL insider added that Brady could well find a new landing spot if Tampa Bay isn’t in his future.
«Among the teams that would consider Brady, there are a couple of them that considered Brady last time,» he said. «The Tennessee Titans still have some questions about the quarterback there. The 49ers, if they don’t decide to rock Brock Purdy, is certainly making their case. And the Las Vegas Raiders, who have several of his old friends, including Josh McDaniels.» .
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Much remains to be decided for Tampa Bay.