Dallas 26, Tampa Bay 20: More Drama Than Necessary
The Dallas Cowboys are not going to bench Dak Prescott for Tony Romo. We’re talking about replacing a QB who has won 12 games this season with a QB who has not completed a pass in a regular-season game since throwing three interceptions on Thanksgiving Day in 2015.
We’re also talking about a potential franchise quarterback vs. the previous franchise quarterback who won a grand total of two playoff games in more than nine years as a starter.
So with the Cowboys holding an NFL-best 11-2 record and the team closing in on a division title, the drama has centered on whether the team should insert Tony Romo into the lineup.
You are not welcome here, Mr. or Ms. Unnecessary Drama.
Against Tampa Bay on Sunday night, rookie Dak Prescott nearly set an NFL mark in completion percentage in a single game by hitting 32 of 36 pass attempts. Only Rich Gannon in 2002 completed a higher percentage of passes on 36 or more attempts.
Parts of Sunday’s game were indeed frustrating, but not because of Prescott. Dallas should have had a chance for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, but a holding call on Vince Mayle effectively derailed the drive, and Dan Bailey missed a 56-yard attempt.
Most of the rest of the first half went the Cowboys’ way, and the team held a 17-3 in the second quarter thanks to touchdowns by Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
But just as the Cowboys had trouble putting the Giants away last week, Dallas nearly self-destructed against Tampa Bay.
That 17-3 lead? It evaporated into a 20-17 deficit. The defense had chances but could not contain the Buccaneer offense. And the automatic one, Bailey, missed another attempt from beyond 50 yards.
The rest of the game was a nail-biter, as Dallas could only manage to kick three field goals. The defense followed one of those field goals with an interception by Jeff Heath, setting up yet another field goal.
The magic really appeared to wear off when Jason Witten fumbled with 8:45 remaining in the 4th quarter. But Tampa Bay could do nothing on the ensuing drive, resulting in another punt.
Following another punt by Tampa Bay, Dallas drove 81 yards in 8 plays, with the Cowboys relying heavily on Elliott. Although the Cowboys could not score a touchdown, the team kicked another field goal to take a 26-20 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
Tampa Bay had two more drives but could not move the ball. On the Buccaneers’ final drive, Orlando Scandrick picked off Jameis Winston to end the game.
At 12-2, Dallas will clinch the NFC East and home-field advantage with a win in either of the final two regular season games against the Lions and Eagles.