The Good, the Bad, and Opening Night against Tampa Bay

The Good:

1. Dak coming off of Injury: He wasn't perfect and there is plenty that could have been better... but he looked reasonably sharp and played quite well given last year's injury and not playing a single down on pre-season

2. The turnover battle: Granted the two INTs were flukes in that one was off a deflection and the other was essentially on a Hail Mary that ended the half... but then at the same time the lone turnover Dak threw was OFF Lamb's hands and Lamb SHOULD have caught that ball. At the same time, the fumble Lawrence forced lead to a touchdown and the fumble and the Godwin fumble kept the score at 28-26 and allowed Dallas to set up the go ahead field goal toward the end of the half. In this we started the season forcing 4 turnovers and giving up only 1. That's a VAST improvement over the start of last year.

3. McGovern's night: Losing Martin to Covid protocols presented all kinds of worries of him getting dominated up front... and admittedly he may not have done as well as Martin would have, but according to Tampa Bay vs Dallas 2021 - Yahoo Sports, Dak only got sacked once and it looked like McGovern largely held his own and wasn't forced into many holding penalties.

4. Dak's consistency in scoring: What's often been the one of the bigger issues brought up against Dak has been, "DAK IS BAD BECAUSE HE DOESN'T GAIN YARDS OR SCORE TOUCHDOWNS OUTSIDE THE 4TH QUARTER AND GARBAGE TIME!" Well... that NEVER happened in this game. Tampa Bay did lead through much of the game, but the largest lead was never more than 9 points. In this, Tampa Bay never got its lead to "garbage time." And Dak had touchdown passes in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters, and got Dallas into scoring distance late all while Tampa had its defensive starters in. Now arguably he could have done better, but Tampa Bay did not build a 31-7 lead and THEN Dallas started scoring.

The Bad:

1. Special Teams: It may seem odd to have them here, when one considers that the last kick of the game from our kicker put us ahead 29-28 with little time left in the game... BUT Greg Zuerlein's night could have been much better and had 3 missed kicks. The 60 yard kick is forgivable, and arguably should have even been attempted. However, he missed a field goal from inside the red zone and missed an extra point attempt that took 4 points off the board. Had those been made, the lead at the end of the game would have been 33-28 and Brady would have needed a touchdown on his last drive rather than an a field goal.

2. The defense... outside of the turnovers forced: Arguably it was better than last year, and forcing four turnovers was great on the defenses part... but Tampa Bay still had 4 drives in which they either scored on that were more than 50 yards. And even the drive that had Godwin fumble had the Buccaneers gain 61 yards in 10 plays. So, yes that drive ended in a forced turnover, but it also covered a lot of ground and take the turnover away and Tampa Bay is knocking on the goal line and looking to make it a 2 score lead. So in this... they're still struggling to get off the field.

3. Dak's accuracy: He had some passes and threw his fair share of "dimes" in the game, but he also had some throws inside the Tampa Bay 30 that fell in complete that were lucky WEREN'T intercepted. Now, some of this may have been poor communication or misreading the defense... but he still got lucky on these particular plays. This namely being that Tampa Bay's defenders seemed to be out of sync as well.

4. Offense inside the Tampa 20: Dak threw 3 touchdown passes, and that was great. But 2 of them were beyond 20 yards, 21 yards to Cooper and 22 yards to Lamb. That's good at long strikes. But given how well we moved the ball in general, one might expect more. But we had drives that didn't end in touchdowns. We got to the Tampa Bay 13, and missed a field goal. We then got to the Tampa Bay 17 and had to settle for a field goal. We then drove to the Tampa Bay 3 to start the second half and had to settle for 3. Contrast that with the fact that nearly every time Brady got inside the Dallas 20, which was fewer times than we did, he scored 7. The only time when Brady settled for a field goal inside the Dallas 20, there was only 2 seconds left and he only needed a field goal to win. Now, arguably we still could have won the game... but had we managed to turn either the missed field goal or the two made field goals into a touchdown, we would have had an easier lead in the fourth quarter and negating the defensive issues completely.

5. Bad coaching decisions: Admittedly the long field goal decision didn't prove to be disastrous... and we nearly turned it into a pick six to close out the first half, but that also could have easily turned into a touchdown or a field goal for Tampa Bay easily. And with our defense still a work in progress, it may have been better to force Brady to play with the entire field rather than starting near the 50.

Opening Night Against Tampa Bay: I'll admit that I expected to get blown out big and that Dak would look far more rusty than he ultimately did. Rust may be there... but it was no where near the degree to which I expected. And ultimately the game was far closer than what many would have expected. And take a better play here or there, be it on special teams or offense inside the 20... we could have won. And in this, despite losing... we lost a narrow game to the arguably the best team in the league. That's better than getting slaughtered by them.

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