The history books will show that the Dallas Cowboys lost in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 31-29. But if you watched this game, you know that the Cowboys did a lot more than just lose the season opener. Even in defeat, one of the worst teams from last year showed that they’re ready to be a contender this season.
Dallas fell in the same way that so many teams have over the years, leaving too much time on the clock for Tom Brady to do his thing. After a Greg Zuerlein field goal gave the Cowboys the lead, Brady used 1:24 of game clock and one timeout to get the Bucs in range for a game-winning field goal by Ryan Succop.
Trading those late-game field goals followed the pattern of the entire night; two strong offense trading blows and everything coming down to who had the ball last. And of all the players who contributed tonight, none did it better than the two star quarterbacks.
Dak Prescott got his MVP and Comeback Player campaigns going tonight with 403 passing yards and three touchdowns. He did throw one interception but it was a ball that hit CeeDee Lamb in the hands and was tipped for the pick. Outside of just a couple errant throws, Prescott was close to perfect in his return to regular-season football.
Lamb had a few drops but also some good moments, finishing with seven catches for 104 yards and a score. He was outshined by Amari Cooper’s 13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Tom Brady was terrific as usual, throwing for 379 yards and four touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions but one was on a tipped ball and the other was a Hail Mary throw at the end of the first half.
Those two picks by Trevon Diggs and Jourdan Lewis, plus a fumble recoveries by Lewis and Randy Gregory, gave the Cowboys four defensive takeaways in the game. While there’s still plenty of work left to do after the way Brady carved up the secondary, it is at least a sign of positive change under Dan Quinn’s leadership.
One key concern for Dallas going forward will be at kicker. While Greg Zuerlein drilled his last field goal 48 yards and right down the middle, he missed two others (albeit one from 60 yards) and an extra point attempt. Even most of his makes were shaky, leaving question marks as to the veteran’s long-term viability for the season.
The Cowboys have 10 days before their next kickoff against the Los Angeles Chargers. They have a lot to feel good about after taking the defending champions down the final seconds, but will the extra practice time allow for them to make some tweaks to the roster?