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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott impresses as Dallas hangs tough but falls short in Tampa, 31-29

Plus other news and analysis after the Cowboys week one game vs Tampa Bay

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott impressive in return, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers nip Dallas Cowboys, 31-29 - Clarence Hill Jr., Star Telegram

Cowboys fall short in Tampa but they put the league on notice with tonight’s performance.

TAMPA, FLA.

Dallas Cowboys newly-minted franchise quarterback Dak Prescott is back and better seemingly better than ever.

In what his first game since suffered a fractured ankle against New York Giants last Oct. 11, 333 days ago, Prescott show no signs of rust, even though he played no snaps in the preseason due to a shoulder strain.

Prescott went throw for throw in a passing duel with seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, passing for 403 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-29 loss against the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a thrilling prime time opener to kickoff the 2021 NFL season at Raymond James James Stadium.

Down 28-19 in the third quarter, Prescott tossed a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper to make to 28-26 heading into the fourth.

And with Tampa Bay seemingly driving for a game-sealing touchdown with 5:04 left in the game, the Cowboys forced their third turnover of the game when safety Damontae Kazee knocked the ball loose from Chris Godwin and cornerback Jordan Lewis recovered.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott throws for 403 yards and 3 TDs in 1st game in 11 months - Todd Archer, ESPN

People can’t stop talking about the impressive job Dak Prescott turned in.

All along everybody associated with the Dallas Cowboys said they believed Dak Prescott would be Dak Prescott in the 2021 season opener.

It turns out they were right, but that was not enough to overcome Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Cowboys lost, 31-29, on Thursday, on a 36-yard field goal by Ryan Succop with two second to play.

Considering it was Prescott’s first live action in 11 months coming off a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle and a training camp in which he was limited by a strained latissimus muscle in his right shoulder, Prescott’s play was astonishing if not highly surprising.

A 31-yard completion on third and 11 to CeeDee Lamb on the play after the two-minute warning put the Cowboys in position for Greg Zuerlein’s go-ahead field goal with 1:24 to play from 48 yards, but Tom Brady answered Prescott’s greatness with greatness of his own.

Prescott finished with 403 yards, matching his career high in completions (42) and setting a career-high in attempts (58) to go with three touchdown passes and one interception. It was the eighth game of at least 400 yards passing in his career and fourth in his last six starts.

7 winners/losers from Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys - Vincent Frank, Sportsnaut

Instant analysis from a wild, hard-fought football game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out on top against the Dallas Cowboys in Thursday’s season opener by the score of 31-29 on a late-second field goal from Ryan Succop.

However, it was Tom Brady who led Tampa Bay on the game-winning drive after it looked like Dak Prescott and his Cowboys had pulled off an amazing road upset. Below, we look at the biggest winners and losers from the defending champion’s victory.

Winner: Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s amazing how joining Tom Brady can act as a career resurgence for players around the league. Brown, 33, is the most-recent and most-notable example of that. Years removed from his dominating days with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown returned to Tampa Bay on a one-year contract this past offseason. The seven-time Pro Bowler is not seen as a starter at this point.

Cowboys come up just short against Buccaneers 31-29 in very competitive game - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys

Our very own Tom Ryle breaks down the week one loss.

The Dallas Cowboys, 9.5 underdogs, fought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the very end to fall just short by a 31-29 score. The game featured drama, lead changes inside the final two minute warning, and a measure of redemption for a field goal kicker. The result was still in doubt down to the final seconds, and NBC probably got themselves a ratings bonanza from the matchup of the defending Super Bowl champions and the most watched team in the NFL.

The game quickly turned into a duel between the quarterbacks, as Dak Prescott and Tom Brady led their teams up and down the field. Prescott was quite impressive against the vaunted Buccaneers defense, while Brady just used his savvy and good protection from his line to keep picking the Cowboys apart. It made for an exciting game that went down to the wire and was much, much more competitive than the oddsmakers believed it would. Prescott was as good as he was before the injury last year, finishing with 403 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

However, Dallas clearly won the turnover battle, intercepting Brady twice and forcing two fumbles, while only losing one Prescott interception. That should have led to an easy win for the Cowboys, but there were just enough mistakes by them to make it a nail-biter.

Coming into the game, the one vulnerability of the Tampa Bay defense was the secondary, and Kellen Moore and Prescott attacked them relentlessly. It was evident from the first Cowboys offensive play of the game, when Moore dialed up an empty backfield from his own two-yard line and netted 28 yards. Not only were Prescott and his receivers piling up the yards, they were drawing a lot of flags that netted them first downs. Overall, in fact, the Buccaneers did not have the advantage that so many Tom Brady teams have experienced with the referees. A lot of the laundry on the field was on them, and it often kept drives alive for the Cowboys.

Michael Gallup exits Cowboys-Buccaneers with left ankle injury - Staff, DMN

The Cowboys do have an injury concern as Michael Gallup hurt his ankle and exited the game.

One member of the Dallas Cowboys’ star receiving trio exited Thursday’s season opener against the Buccaneers with an injury.

Michael Gallup left the field in the second half because of a left ankle injury. Gallup exited with four receptions for 36 yards. He is questionable to return to the game. [He did not return].

Gallup is in his fourth season with the Cowboys since being drafted in the third round in 2018. For his career, he has 158 receptions for 2,457 yards.

Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith’s streak of 50 straight starts comes to an end vs. Buccaneers - Michael Gehlken, DMN

There was a passing of the torch at linebacker in this game.

Jaylon Smith compiled an impressive streak of 50 straight starts, including two playoff games, during the past three seasons.

That ended Thursday.

The Cowboys turned to rookie Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal as the starting linebackers in their primary nickel subpackage. Smith has been reduced to a rotational role, working most consistently when the team is in its base defense.

His usage will be something to monitor moving forward.

Smith, whose $7.2 million salary became fully guaranteed in March, offers depth and base-defense ability that the Cowboys value. They consider all their options at linebacker a defensive strength. But over the course of this season, they will need to measure Smith’s value with the risk he bears when on the field.

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