Cowboys vs. Buccaneers score: Dak Prescott injured as Tampa Bay rolls over dysfunctional Dallas offense – CBS Sports

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers score: Dak Prescott injured as Tampa Bay rolls over dysfunctional Dallas offense - CBS Sports

For the second straight season, the Buccaneers spoiled the Cowboys’ opener in prime time. Despite losing a pair of key starters to injury, Tampa Bay had its way with Dallas in the 2022 first edition of “Sunday Night Football,” feasting on Dak Prescott’s discomfort with new blockers and pass catchers to claim a 19-3 victory. Tom Brady spread the ball around to help seal the Week 1 decision, leaning on a busy Leonard Fournette to ensure the rout of America’s Team, which later lost Prescott to a hand problem that will require surgery and keep him out for several weeks.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday night’s Bucs win:

Why the Buccaneers won

It wasn’t because they stayed healthy, that’s for sure. Even with starting left tackle Donovan Smith and No. 1 receiver Chris Godwin exiting early with injury, Brady and the Bucs were very effective with the ball in their hands, compensating for initial red-zone issues by spreading the ball to their big men — and Mike Evans and rookie Julio Jones created space downfield — and feeding Fournette, who owned the backfield with nearly 130 yards on 21 carries. Todd Bowles’ defense, meanwhile, had its way all night even without aggressive blitzing. Shaq Barrett and Devin White disrupted the pocket multiple times, and Antoine Winfield Jr. easily swung an errant Prescott pass. By the end, all the Bucs had to do was keep everything in front of them, almost letting the Cowboys trip over themselves.

Why the Cowboys lost

Their offense, debuting its mixed receiving corps and offensive line, was as out of sync as it had ever been under Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore. Without steady protection or reliable targets, Prescott walked in Aaron Rodgers’ Week 1 shoes, forcing or fumbling or misplacing throws while desperate to get the passing game going, ultimately exiting in the waning minutes with an injury that will sideline him for several weeks. Star wideout CeeDee Lamb had just two catches entering the final quarter, while reserves like Noah Brown and Dennis Houston struggled to make up for absent regulars like Michael Gallup. It was ugly all around. Defensively, Micah Parsons had his typical flashes of dominance, and Donovan Wilson caught a distracting Brady throw down the stretch, but even Trevon Diggs couldn’t slow down the Bucs’ top wideouts when it mattered most.

Turning point

Until Brady found Evans for a 5-yard touchdown on a fade pass, with just over three minutes left in the third, neither team reached the end zone. That score, on the other hand, where Evans easily separates from Diggs while initially swinging the ball in with one hand, put Tampa Bay ahead 19-3 and effectively sealed the game on a night Dallas was poorly reacting.

Game of the game

Who knew the 33-year-old Jones would be responsible for the Bucs’ most explosive passing game of the night? But give the longtime Falcons star credit for showing not only remaining deep speed but impressive hands on his second-quarter bomb that set up a 12-3 Bucs lead:

What follows

The Buccaneers (1-0) will hit the road in a Week 2 NFC South clash with the Saints (1-0), who came back to top the Falcons on Sunday. The Cowboys (0-1), meanwhile, will return home as the only NFC East team without a win and host the Bengals (0-1), who are coming off an overtime loss to the Steelers. And they will face a desperate Bengals team without Prescott behind center.

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