DAC, defense dominates in a 31-14 win

Although there is still a long way to go in this postseason tournament, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was simply brilliant in leading his team to 31-14 wins over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this NFC Wild Card game. In doing so, the Cowboys won their first road playoff game since the 1992 NFC Championship Game, with a 30-20 victory at the San Francisco 49ers.

But that was ancient history, thanks to Prescott & Associates. After missing his first three passes of the night, and being sacked for fourth down, the Dallas quarterback was virtually unstoppable, completing 25 of his next 30 attempts for 305 yards. In all, he recorded a completion percentage of 75.8 with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 143.3 passer rating.

Along the way, he set a playoff record with 11 consecutive completions and surpassed Tony Romo for fourth in postseason passes, now totaling 10. Playoff.

Dalton Schultz was the primary recipient of Prescott’s performance, becoming the first tight end in the Cowboys record books with two receiving touchdowns in a playoff game. He caught seven catches for 95 yards, both career highs, with eight different players hauling in passes.

For all of the offensive fireworks, the Dallas defense was perhaps the most dominant. Brady threw for 351 yards, but it took 66 pass attempts. He completed just 53 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and an interception average of 72.2. The Cowboys also limited the Buccaneers’ ground game to just 52 yards. Micah Parsons and Jonathan Hankins each received a sack while Leighton Vander Esch led the club with nine tackles. Hankins and Vander Esch both returned to the lineup after missing the previous four and three games, respectively.

The only drawback of the night was the inexplicable troubles of Ketter Brett Maher. One of the best attempts on the field throughout the regular season, he missed the first four extra point attempts. Fortunately, his early inaccuracies did not affect the outcome of this.

Regardless, the Buccaneers were simply no match for the Cowboys on this night.

It took a few strings of offenses to catch up after both defenses dominated during the first five minutes of the quarter. But on their third attempt, the Cowboys not only got their first first of the game, but also opened the scoring.

The seven-play, 80-yard drive saw Tony Pollard rush four times for 25 yards with Prescott connecting with Michael Gallup for 15 yards and catching a 15-yard passer call for another 15 yards. A 22-yard shot to Schultz, and while Maher pushed his extra point right, it wasn’t good, Dallas had an early lead, 6-0.

On the second play of the second frame, the Cowboys averted disaster. Brady marched his troopers all the way to the Dallas 5-yard line, but on second-and-goal, his throw was snatched back in the middle of the end zone by safety Jayron Kearse, the Cowboys secure Brady’s first red zone since the 2019 season.

Seeing the gift, Prescott took over, driving his team an 80-yard completion in 15 plays. On the drive, the quarterback completed all six of his pass attempts for 71 yards, but used his legs to cross the goal line, and took a punt around left end on fourth-and-one for a touchdown. Struggles continued for Maher, as he again pushed his extra point to the right.

With his latest effort, Prescott scored both a passing and rushing touchdown in his fourth consecutive playoff game, the only player in NFL history to post such a streak. He also became the sixth player in league history to turn the trick in four post-season games overall.

With the defense again forcing the Buccaneers to punt again, the Cowboys had 3:32 to work with before halftime. That was plenty of time. Once again, Prescott was outstanding completing 7 of 9 passes for 83 yards and also scrambled for 11 yards, diving first downs on third and sixth. On a touchdown punt, he rolled to his left to avoid pressure and then found Schultz again 11 yards out for the score. In a now-disturbing trend, Maher this time missed his extra point left, but Dallas entered the locker room with an 18-0 lead at halftime.

Left tackle Jason Peters was ruled out after suffering a groin injury late in the second quarter, but with rookie Tyler Smith moving from left guard to outside to tackle and Connor McGovern running into Smith, the team’s offensive train didn’t slow.

Starting at their own 14-yard line, the Cowboys needed just eight plays to reach the end zone for their fourth consecutive possession. He hit Prescott Schultz for 26 yards – the tight end that makes for an impressive juggling game – later followed by a connection with CeeDee Lamb for another 26 yards and an 18-yard run from Pollard. Quarterback then found Gallop in the end zone from 2 yards out for a touchdown. Another miss from Maher, this time from the upper right corner, officially made his night one of the worst in playoff history, but Dallas’ drive made his frustrating effort a non-factor.

Despite being deep in the hole, Tampa Bay is not yet buried. The Buccaneers went on a 10-play, 95-yard drive at the end of the quarter with Brady’s final two passes of the series going 18 yards to Mike Evans and then a 30-yard Julio Jones touchdown reception in the end zone. The Cowboys may have taken advantage of not having a pending defensive call on the two-point conversion, but regardless, the pass attempt fell short.

Dallas had an answer. Once again, Prescott sliced ​​and diced the Pirates into secondary cubes. Along the way, Noah Brown hit for 15 yards and Gallup for 12 before finding himself and the offense facing fourth-and-4 at the Tampa Bay 18-yard line. With McCarthy deciding to go for it, Prescott found a wide open carry on the left side for an easy touchdown. And the Cowboys Nation collectively took a sigh of relief when Maher split up the uprights to convert the extra point and push the lead to 31-6.

If the pirates weren’t buried before, the pirates were now basically there with just over 10 minutes left in the game. They got to the Cowboys 2-yard line on their next possession, but a desperate Brady pass under pressure fell incomplete on fourth down and goal, and Dallas took control.

Unfortunately, a scary moment occurred with less than three minutes remaining when Tampa Bay receiver Russell Gage was forced off the field with an injury, splinting his thumb as he headed into the tunnel.

When action returns, Brady then completes an 11-play, 52-yard drive with an 8-yard throw to tight end Cameron Pratt and converts the two-point conversion with a hit to Evans. When the Buccaneers then recovered an onside kick at their own 49-yard line with 2:04 on the clock, things got a little uncomfortable.

But in the end, it was too little too late.

Thanks to the 17-point win, the Cowboys will now travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers next Sunday, January 22 at 5:30 p.m. CT on FOX in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

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