The Dallas Cowboys secured a division title, and home playoff game, with a 27-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16.
Randy Gregory had arguably his career game, forcing one fumble and recovering another to go along with a single sack. He also continued to be the victim of bad officiating, getting called for a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty that helped keep a Tampa touchdown drive alive.
Indeed, the referees may have been the story of this game. There were numerous questionable calls against Dallas, including missed penalties that should have been called against the Buccaneers. Still, Randy and his teammates overcame the adversity.
Gregory’s big day was needed with veteran Tyrone Crawford going down on just the second play of the game. A neck injury forced Crawford to be carted off the field and taken to the hospital, but so far there have been good reports about his condition.
The defense responded early, with Gregory’s forced fumble leading to a rare defensive touchdown. Jaylon Smith picked up the ball and took it 69 yards to the house. The Bucs were held to just a field goal in the first quarter.
The defensive effort supplemented low production from the offense. Dak Prescott had just 161 passing yards and Ezekiel Elliott ran for only 85 yards. But Dak did score twice, one on the ground and another on a pass to Michael Gallup.
Dallas now heads to New York for what should be a meaningless game in terms of playoffs standings. We’ll see how they decide to manage their roster against the Giants.
- While Zeke’s 85 yards was low, it’s better than the zero that Todd Gurley will get today. The Rams will sit Gurley today with a knee injury, which all but assures that Elliott will win the rushing title this season.
- Brett Maher hit a 59-yard field goal towards the end of the first half. While his 83% accuracy isn’t quite the Dan Bailey standard, his ability to hit from extreme distance is very nice trade-off.
- Leighton Vander Esch was credited with 15 total tackles to lead the team. Jaylon Smith was next in line with 10, and also had two big pass breakups. He also that little fumble return for a touchdown, too.
- DeMarcus Lawrence had a sack to get to 9.5 for the year. We’ll see if he plays next week and gets a shot at making double digits for the second-straight season.
- Sean Lee was among the team’s inactive players today, although reportedly healthy enough to play. Dallas is still limiting his reps, though, and reportedly needed more bodies for special teams.
- The Cowboys’ ninth win assures a winning season for Jason Garrett. He has coached the team to winning record in four of the last five years.