TAMPA – As big teams tend to do, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a game Thursday night they had every right to lose.
Bad hands. Bad penalties. Bad coverage. It was part of the story that almost led to an embarrassing disaster as the Bucs opened up their Super Bowl crown defense with a 31-29 verdict against the Dallas Cowboys who got very lucky around this. championship grain.
In a nutshell, the debut of 2021 can be described as: Buc-Ugly.
You can hear Bruce Arians now.
This is how you lose, guys. In September and especially in January.
Boy, Arians, the Bucs direct shooting coach, certainly has some new material to hammer home messages on what it will take to make another championship.
Still, the Bucs won on a night where Tom Brady threw two picks and was almost eclipsed by the other quarterback on the field – Dak Prescott, in his first comeback after suffering the horrific ankle injury. which ended its 2020 season.
They won because, well, Brady made a few special throws at the right time and was his typical crunch clutch.
He connected with Antonio Brown for a 47-yard touchdown that quickly regained the lead in the second quarter, found Rob Gronkowski for a few touchdowns (that’s 100, including the playoffs, for the big tight wing) . And there were other soft passes that didn’t show up in the box’s score. Early in the game, he dropped a tear at Brown for an over-the-shoulder throw-in. Late in the game, he found Leonard Fournette – or rather Fournette found the ball, leaping over the defender as if catching a rebound – to save Brady and the Bucs. At least temporarily.
Minutes later, with the Bucs seemingly in control and marching towards the end zone, Chris Godwin caught a pass inside the 10 and streaked towards the goal line. Still, Godwin, who just minutes earlier dropped a deep strike on third base, fumbled to give the Cowboys a revival.
Dallas struck out a drive that resulted in Greg Zeurlein’s 48-yard field goal that gave Dallas a 29-28 lead with 1:24 on the clock.
It set the stage for one last breath to win – or else – with some last-minute Brady magic.
And one more chance for Godwin to redeem himself. Ended. His 24-yard catch on a side-stopping route gave Ryan Succop the 36-yard field goal with two seconds left.
The Bucs win. But phew.
Which reminds us: Has anyone seen Ronald Jones II lately? The running back never got off the bench after fumbling around to start a practice in the second quarter – which wrapped a gift from Dallas and was the first of two one-and-a-half practices the Bucs would regret. The other practice also involved a blunder from a running back, as Brady’s pass in the flat glanced at Leonard Fournette’s hands for a Trevon Diggs interception that gave the Cowboys a lead of 16-14.
Around the two turnovers, the instant count equation went like this: Dallas 17, Tampa Bay 2.
It was that kind of night for the Bucs. Barely pretty. But sufficient. Barely.