It was rotisserie miscues for the Dallas defense. No single area that was putrid, but Dallas had lots of areas where one or two big mistakes added up to a large handful of Bucs explosive plays.
The halves are 30 minutes each, Terence Newman. Newman had an outstanding, healthy Terence Newman line (6 attempts, 2 completions, a microscopic 2.1 YPA) in the first 28 minutes of each half, but gave up two huge YPA-inflating plays in the waning moments of each half. Michael Clayton got behind Newman for a 47 yarder in the last ten seconds of the first half and Newman gave up a 19 yard pass on Tampa's final drive, when Dallas was playing a very soft prevent.
It's a fat line, but a bit misleading. Newman looks like the old, healthy Newman.
Jenkins had the same problem. He had two picks slide though his hands. One was nullified by an illegal contact penalty on Gerald Sensabaugh and a second literally slid though Jenkins hands in the 4th quarter. He had a brain freeze and gave Antonio Bryant the wide side of the field for a 30 yard gain, on a 1st and 10 play where the Bucs kept eight in to block and sent out just two receivers.
Were receivers whipping either of these guys repeatedly, I would be concerned. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt for now, especially Newman.
- 4 men -- 27 plays
- 5 men -- 10 plays
- 6 men -- 3 plays
- 7 men -- 1 play
This was not your typical Wade Phillips game, which makes you wonder what he held in reserve for the Giants. Wade rushes 5 men roughly half the time. He only rushed five or more about a third of the time. He only called ten five man rushes and four of them were on Tampa Bay's last four plays from scrimmage.
Dallas put some fourth quarter pressure on Byron Leftwich, but to his credit, he stayed sharp despite being drilled four times in the final stanza by Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher and Marcus Spears, who had the strongest rushing game I've seen him have. Leftwich's sternum still has a tattoo reading "Marcus Was Here" right now.
- Left: 2 attempts, 5 yards, 2.5 YPA
- Middle: 24 attempts, 142 yards, 5.9 YPA
- RIght: 2 attempts, 20 yards, 10.0 YPA
Not a pretty line, but an inconsistent one. The Bucs attacked the middle of the Dallas 3-4 and had a lot of success. Jay Ratliff pushed Jeff Faine all over the Bucs backfield, but the inside linebackers, Bradie James in particular, were confused and slow to get untracked. New Cowboy Keith Brooking was slow to react in the first 20 minutes but got faster at engaging plays run at him in the middle two stanzas.
James seemed confused by his gap duties and was slow to pursue early runs away from him. On Tampa's first drive, the Bucs ran a weakside Iso play at Brooking, who took on the Tampa fullback. The tackle was up to SS Gerald Sensabaugh and James, who should have pursued from the strong side. James dithered in his gap, and had no idea where the football was.
James got better at finding the football, but I'm troubled that he had a lot of trouble disengaging from guards when the play came directly at him.
Nonetheless, the Cowboys seemed to find their legs in the second and third quarters, when the Bucs punted on five drives and missed a field goal on a sixth, after taking an early 7-6 lead.
- Bucs first 10 runs: 86 yards
- Bucs next 10 runs: 25 yards
The Cowboys then got sloppy, with Brooking and James blowing an assignment on Derrick Ward's 22 yard run. I expect the Cowboys interior run defense to be sharper this week, but keep an eye on James. He needs to raise his play far above last week's level
- Dallas -- 9 plays
- Tampa Bay -- 6 plays
The Bucs sprinkled their explosives across the offensive roster. Jenkins gave up one big pass. Newman gave up one. The big Ward run has been discussed.
Tampa earned three big ones, beating the Dallas nickel with a great pitchout call to Cadillac Williams, who hit the right sideline for 36 yards. Kellen Winslow beat the Dallas zone early for a 22 yarder, on the play where Demarcus Ware was injured, and Michael Clayton shook off a wicked Sensabaugh lick to gain 20 more in the third quarter.