Almost every offseason concern about the Dallas Cowboys was validated tonight. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't even have to play well to hang a 19-3 loss on the home team. But perhaps the biggest story now for Dallas is the hand injury that forced QB Dak Prescott out of the game in the 4th quarter.
The Cowboys' best drive was their first one, advancing 54 yards and scoring their only points on a 51-yard field goal from Brett Maher. It was Maher's only attempt of the game.
The game was a slugfest early as Dallas' defense managed to hold Tampa Bay to four field goals despite numerous punts and an interception on the other side of the ball. Micah Parsons had two first-half sacks to kill Bucs drives and Trevon Diggs had some nice pass breakups. Donovan Wilson picked off Tom Brady in the second half early in the 4th quarter to keep the Cowboys' hopes alive.
But for every defensive effort, the offense failed to capitalize. The Cowboys' depth issues at WR were evident as CeeDee Lamb was smothered and nobody else could give Dak an easy target. Offensive line woes also factored in with poor pass protection and several penalties from OT Terence Steele.
Overall, Dallas had 10 penalties for 73 yards tonight. It was a disappointing continuance for one of their biggest issues from 2021.
One thing we didn't experience last year was such poor play from the starting QB. Prescott finished with just 134 yards on 14-of-29 passing. His 47.2 passer rating was the third-lowest for a single game in his career.
Of course, Dak had more talent at WR and less angst on the offensive line a year ago. These certainly contributed to his bad night, but Prescott also squandered some of the few opportunities he did have with errant throws.
Now the concern is if Dallas will be without Dak going forward. His hand was hit hard by Tampa's Shaq Barrett on a throw late in the game and sent him to the sideline, then eventually to the locker room. X-ray results are still forthcoming.
With New York, Philadelphia, and Washington all winning their first games tonight, the Cowboys now sit alone in the NFC East basement at 0-1. They will hope to correct course next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that could become a lot harder if Cooper Rush moves into the starting lineup.