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TAMPA, Florida (CBS SPORTS) – What … a … game. If you believed the Dallas Cowboys would be roundly thumped by Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, Dak Prescott hadn’t played a snap of regular-season football in 334 days and, sure, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl 214 days ago, but the past is the past and the present is a gift — this regular-season opener being exactly that: a gift for NFL fans worldwide. The Cowboys took the Buccaneers to the brink before their mistakes ultimately caught up with them — Brady and Co. escaping a nail-biter with a 31-29 win at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady, Gronkowski and Antonio Brown simply wouldn’t let the Cowboys escape their mistakes.
Heading into halftime, both teams were backing up their offseason promises of being a contender — at least from the offensive standpoint. On one hand, you had Prescott who, after suffering a season-ending fractured ankle last October and a strained shoulder this past July that saw him rest most of August, mostly play completely out of his mind. Not to be outdone, Brady threw his own share of haymakers, but also got caught in a web of unexpected Cowboys takeaways; and that’s a category Dallas has been seeking to improve in for years now. Any questions on if Prescott could regain prime form are officially dead and buried, as are any that claim Brady might finally lose a step in 2021.
After seeing their respective opening drives stall — the Cowboys defense forcing a clean three-and-out while their offense left the field due to drops that derailed the progress they were making — both found the end zone and mounted a tie game at the end of the first quarter. That’s when Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski went to work, adding another TD to the game’s tally and daring Prescott to match serve yet again.
From there, things got very spicy, with the Cowboys getting a total of four takeaways on the Bucs while giving up only one themselves (and INT on Prescott that was attributable more to CeeDee Lamb than the QB), in a fight that was a heavyweight bout from the moment they stepped into the ring to square off. Prescott finished with 403 yards on 42 completions with three touchdowns and the aforementioned interception — his passer rating of 101.4 being higher than Brady, who finished with a 97.0 on 32 completions with four TDs. And even after intercepting Brady twice, they were undone by mistakes made throughout the game, and an otherwise impressive outing by the Cowboys is now nothing more than something positive to build on.
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