Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Key to the Cowboys’ First Win Against a Tom Brady Team

In his entire NFL career, a team led by Tom Brady in control had never lost to Dallas.

TAMPA — Dak Prescott underwent surgery as the Dallas Cowboys went about their business on the road against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final game of the first round of the playoffs on Monday.

The Buccaneers were able to outclass the Cowboys in the regular season opener, 19–3, but Prescott’s total of five touchdowns and an impressive defense were too much in the Wild Card Round matchup, which ended 31–14.

The Cowboys would travel to face the San Francisco 49ers the following Sunday as part of the Divisional Round.

dallas cowboys

Tom Brady’s Curse? It’s over

Eight-game losing streak on the road in the playoffs? as well.

Monday’s blowout of the Buccaneers ended Brady’s personal perfect seven-game winning streak against the Cowboys and gave Dallas its first road playoff win since the 1992 NFC Championship Game.

It was the Cowboys’ most complete performance of the season since their 40–3 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings on November 20, and may be the incentive the team needed to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

Since that win over the Vikings, the Cowboys have been looking for another similar outing, struggling in wins over the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, as well as faltering in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, the Cowboys hope to put together a winning streak in the playoffs when they travel to face the 49ers on Sunday.

Quarterback Analysis: Prescott insisted that the question of interception be dropped. It is unclear whether anyone believed him or not, but Prescott did. He set an NFL postseason record by rushing for a touchdown and shooting for a touchdown in his fourth straight playoff game. With four touchdown passes, he joined Troy Aikman (Super Bowl XXVII) and Roger Staubach (NFC Championship Game, 1975) as the only Cowboys quarterbacks with four touchdowns in a playoff game. His confidence continued to grow. His second touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Schultz was a beauty, running to his left and throwing over his body to find his target, giving the Cowboys an 18–0 lead. In his last four playoff games, Prescott had at least one interception in three of them. It’s not that he didn’t make mistakes, but he made big plays at key times.

Breakout Performance: The defense looked like a unit to start the season as opponents failed to break 20 points in six of the first seven games. Micah Parsons shone and saw more off-the-ball linebacker action than in the second half of the season. Jayron Kearse had the first red zone interception of Brady’s career at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers failed to run the ball when these two teams met in Week 1, when they combined for 152 rushing yards. The Niners will present a formidable challenge with running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittel and rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, but today should boost the confidence of the group.

Worrying trend: Kicker Brett Maher was about as consistent as you could ask for in the regular season. He missed just three extra points all season. He missed four this Monday. And, that comes after missing his lone try in the regular season finale against the Washington Commanders. His first two kicks deflected to the right. The third went to the left. Fourth went to the right post. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Maher is the only player in any NFL game since 1932 to miss four extra points in a game, regular season or playoffs. So it is: should the Cowboys be looking for a kicker as they advance to the divisional round of the playoffs?

Underrated State: According to Elias, at one point in the first half, Prescott had 11 completions, breaking the Cowboys’ postseason record previously set by Troy Aikman in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers. –Todd Archer


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Brady will not have a second date against the 49ers or an eighth ring in hand this season.

Monday was Brady’s first loss against the Cowboys and just the third time his team was eliminated in the wild card round of the playoffs, most recently against the Titans on January 4, 2020, 30–27. . Brady went 2–0 in the Wild Card round with the Buccaneers the previous few years.

With Brady on the brink of becoming an unrestricted free agent, general manager Jason Licht will make every effort to re-sign him this offseason, giving him plenty of time to make a decision, one that will cost the family a lot. Will be affected, given their desire to be close to their children. But, his status will determine whether the team is in “win now” mode, or will be forced to rebuild.

Also, there are questions regarding the group of coaches. Head coach Todd Bowles is expected to return in 2023, but this is not the group of assistants he assembled. What changes can happen? Brady would like to know the plan for next year.

Quarterback Analysis: Despite the return of Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who missed the entire regular season with torn knee ligaments and promoted to the full team this week, Brady was put under a lot of pressure, and the offense looked out of rhythm. The offensive line could not stop Micah Parsons, and as a result, Brady did not complete a pass of 10 or more yards in the first half. Brady completed 35 of 66 passes for 351 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

The interception came early in the second quarter on a bad pass by wide receiver Russell Gage, with safety Jaron Kearse taking the ball. It was Brady’s first interception in the red zone in 409 pass attempts. Brady’s first TD pass came late in the third quarter, on a 30-yard connection to left wide receiver Julio Jones, and his second was an 8-yarder to Cameron Brett with 2:04 left in the game.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Even with their complete secondary backs, the Bucs’ camouflage cover was insufficient to fool Prescott. He faced pressure to keep them in the pocket, and they couldn’t cover the Cowboys’ tight ends.

The first touchdown was a 22-yard pass to Dalton Schultz, a tight end. Prescott coldly played safety Mike Edwards, who had one of his toughest games as a Buccaneer. This was set up by a rough call on the passer against defensive lineman Akeem Hicks. Then, on fourth down and 1, the Bucs gambled to stop the run with linebacker KJ Britt losing the edge and Prescott scrambling to get into the end zone.

Earlier, the Bucs completely blew the coverage on a 35-yard pass to tight end Jake Ferguson.

Prescott found Schultz once again with an 11-yard score—Edwards was again out of position—threw on the trick with 27 to go. Si Dee Lamb entered in coverage to score after lining up a triple to left with Schultz and Noah Brown. Lamb went alone for an 18-yard score.

Underrated State: Brady’s 66 pass attempts were the most in his playoff career, and his 31 incompletions were also the most for him in the post-season. — Jenna Lane

Nation World News Desk
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