clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 plays that shaped the Cowboys’ dominant playoff win over the Buccaneers

The Cowboys not only won over the Bucs, but did so in convincing fashion.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Cowboys defied all odds and beat several bad streaks for them, emerging victorious over the Buccaneers on Monday night in the Wild Card round. It was Mike McCarthy’s first playoff win in Dallas, and a huge relief for many in the organization.

Next up, they’ll get a rematch with the 49ers team that eliminated them a year ago. But first, we need to appreciate the thorough beatdown that Dallas just delivered to Tom Brady. These five plays were a big part of it being such a dominant win.

Roughing the passer penalty jump starts Cowboys offense

The Cowboys offense did not get off to a hot start, going three-and-out on their first two drives. Luckily for Dallas, the Buccaneers kept returning the favor. On their third drive, the Cowboys started to move the ball a little bit.

However, the biggest moment came on second and eight at the Dallas 42. Dak Prescott hit Noah Brown for a quick three-yard gain, but Tampa Bay was called for roughing the passer after hitting Prescott in the head and landing on top of him.

That 15-yard penalty flipped the field for Dallas, moving them into Buccaneers territory, and also changed what would’ve been third and five into first and ten. Just three plays later, Prescott hit Dalton Schultz for the first of many touchdowns on the night.

Tom Brady throws rare interception in the endzone

It certainly looked like the Buccaneers were going to answer right back with a touchdown of their own, as Tom Brady engineered a methodical 14-play drive that reached second and goal on the Cowboys’ own five-yard line.

Shortly after ESPN showed a graphic highlighting how long it’s been since Brady turned it over in the red zone (it was the longest span in NFL history, because of course) the announcer jinx reared its head. Brady lofted a pass to the back of the endzone, and Jayron Kearse skied up for the pick.

This may have been the first moment where Cowboys fans really started to believe this could happen. It was a big deal to get a takeaway off Brady, especially since it wiped out such a long drive for the Buccaneers’ otherwise anemic offense.

Jake Ferguson catch-and-run sets up easy touchdown

After Brady’s streak-snapping interception, the Cowboys smelled blood in the water. Prescott and the offense had a golden opportunity to build an early lead on Brady, and they wanted to take it.

The offense started off hot, and before long they were looking at first down at the Tampa Bay 40-yard line. That’s when Prescott hit Jake Ferguson on a quick bootleg play, and the rookie tight end showed off his wheels.

Just like that, Dallas turned a promising drive into near-guaranteed points. Ferguson’s excellent work after the catch gave Dallas a first and goal, and it took a fourth down attempt to do so, but Prescott and the offense scored a touchdown to go up 12-0.

Dak Prescott scramble keeps drive alive before halftime

The Buccaneers offense went back into its shell, punting after just five plays, and the Cowboys were given a golden opportunity to score once more before halftime. But when Prescott threw incomplete to Michael Gallup on second down, Jason Peters had to leave the game with a hip injury that ultimately kept him out the rest of the night.

The Cowboys now faced third and six at their own 44, and they didn’t want to give it back to Brady with just under two minutes left. That’s when Prescott took off from the pocket, evading pressure and picking up 11 yards with his feet to move the chains.

Six plays later, Prescott found Schultz for another touchdown to make it 18-0 right before halftime. But that scramble play from Prescott was the deciding factor between scoring a touchdown and giving the Buccaneers a chance to do it instead.

Dak Prescott hits CeeDee Lamb deep on critical third down

The Cowboys led by three scores at halftime, but as their defensive coordinator knows all too well, that isn’t good enough against Tom Brady. The Cowboys needed to come out in the second half and drive the stake in these Buccaneers. The defense started off strong, forcing another three-and-out.

However, the Cowboys offense came very close to stalling out themselves. They quickly drew a third and four at their own 46-yard line. That’s when Prescott decided to go deep to CeeDee Lamb, who had shaken his coverage downfield. He hauled in the catch for a 26-yard gain, and the Cowboys were knocking on the door of the endzone once again.

Four plays later, Prescott hit Michael Gallup for a touchdown that put them up 24-0. While there was still plenty of time for Brady to do Brady things, this score had the feeling of the Cowboys driving the final nail in the coffin, and that proved to be true.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys