The Dallas Cowboys dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night to advance in the NFL playoffs.
The win marks the first playoff road win for Dallas in exactly 30 years and is also the first time a Dallas team has defeated a team led by Tom Brady.
After both teams got off to slow starts, the Dallas offense ignited, and the defense proved to be too much for Tampa Bay to handle as the Cowboys got the 31-14 victory.
WHAT TO KNOW
— The Cowboys had lost seven straight games to Brady, including losses in the season opener in both of the last two seasons.
— Brady and the Buc’s offense looked out of sync throughout most of the game, in large part due to the combination of linebacker Micah Parsons, defensive tackle Dorance Armstrong, and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch who were a constant presence in the Bucs’ backfield.
— Tampa Bay abandoned the run game early, which played perfectly into the style of play defensive coordinator Dan Quinn built this defense to conduct.
BY THE NUMBERS
Quarterback Dak Prescott has been criticized in recent weeks after throwing a slew of interceptions, including three pick-sixes in the final seven games of the season, but he was nearly flawless on Monday Night.
Prescott completed 25-of-33 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns without a turnover. Prescott also had an 11-yard touchdown run on a fake for the second Cowboys score of the day.
The most shocking events of the game came on special teams as kicker Brett Maher missed his first four point-after attempts after missing just three all season.
Head coach Mike McCarthy appeared to lack confidence in the kicker early in the fourth quarter when he kept the offense on the field on fourth-and-four from the Tampa Bay 18-yard line. The play resulted in a touchdown reception for receiver CeeDee Lamb and gave the Cowboys a 31-6 lead after Maher kicked the final extra point of the game.
Brady struggled throughout the game, with numerous passes being off-target. Brady led the Bucs on an early drive into the Cowboys’ red zone before throwing an interception to Cowboys Jayron Kearse.
It was Brady’s first red zone interception since 2019, ending the longest such streak in NFL history. Brady was sacked twice in the game but was hit six times and had 12 passes defended against, including several batted down at the line.
When asked about the pressure to end the playoff road losing streak, Dak Prescott said:
“I didn’t listen. I simply didn’t listen to anybody else’s opinions, anybody else’s thoughts. I’ve got a great supporting cast and teammates that believe in me and that’s all that really matters to me and just staying focused on what I can do.”
The Dallas Cowboys advanced to the Divisional Round and will face the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers eliminated the Cowboys in the Wild Card round last year, and this rematch will carry plenty of emotion for both teams.