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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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2022 Game Preview: Cowboys-Buccaneers, Week 1

A second straight opening-weekend meeting with the Cowboys awaits Tampa Bay in Dallas, as the two highest-scoring teams from 2021 square off, with both squads featuring shuffled O-Lines and aggressive defenses

game preview

Almost exactly a year ago the Dallas Cowboys came to Tampa for the NFL's Kickoff Game featuring the defending Super Bowl champions on their home turf. That prime-time battle was billed in many places, including this one, as a clash of two potentially explosive offenses. It did not disappoint.

On a macro level, not much has changed a year later. After the Buccaneers won a wild shootout, 31-29, over the Cowboys capped by a vintage Tom Brady game-winning drive, Dallas went on to lead the league in scoring and total yards. The Buccaneers were second in those two categories and first in passing yards. Each team has since endured significant changes to its offensive line – not all of it by choice – but otherwise still has plenty of firepower and many of the same stars. Rob Gronkowski retired for the Buccaneers and Amari Cooper was released by the Cowboys, but both teams still have a top-tier quarterback guiding what is expected to be another strong offense.

And now they will meet yet again in a prime-time spotlight on opening weekend. Tom Brady versus Dak Prescott (or more accurately, versus Micah Parsons) is a marquee matchup that demands a stage like Sunday Night Football in Week One.

Of course, things could have been drastically different for the Buccaneers had Brady gone through with his initial plans to retire instead of choosing to return 40 days later. And, there has been some shakeup in his surrounding cast of skill-position players, with Gronkowski (and to a lesser extent O.J. Howard and Ronald Jones) out and Russell Gage, Julio Jones, Rachaad White and Kyle Rudolph in, but it's hard to find a deeper group of pass-catching talent in the NFL. In contrast, the Cowboys' receiving looks thin, or at least unproven, with the departures of Cooper and Cedrick Wilson and the continued knee rehab for Michael Gallup. However, Dallas still has All-Pro guard Zack Martin leading the way for a rushing attack that features both the powerful Ezekiel Elliott and big-play specialist Tony Pollard.

As for those offensive lines, Tampa Bay had to rework its entire three-man interior, in part because Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a knee injury in training camp. The new right guard is seasoned veteran Shaq Mason, a trade acquisition, but Robert Hainsey and rookie Luke Goedeke, at center and left guard respectively, will be making their first NFL starts on Sunday night. Tampa Bay threw the most passes and still allowed the fewest sacks in 2021, sending three of their blockers to the Pro Bowl. Some of that was the result of Brady's excellent work in the quick passing game, but it's fair to wonder how close the new-look line can get to last year's level of play.

Meanwhile the Cowboys have to replace right tackle La'el Collins, a cap casualty, and left guard Connor Williams, a free agency loss. They were planning on letting rookie first-rounder Tyler Smith get a shot at that job but now Smith is bring pressed into service to replace perennial Pro Bowler Tyron Smith at left tackle following the latter's hamstring tear. Fortunately for the Cowboys, if their pass protection suffers a bit in 2022 they have a quarterback in Prescott who is adept at making creative plays on the move.

While Brady and Prescott and their respective crews will likely still be the most prominent storyline this weekend, it is quite possible that both teams will be led by their defenses at various times during the 2022 season. The Buccaneers believe they have their deepest and most talented group of defenders in years, and that's after they allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL in 2021. Akiem Hicks was added to create an enormous and powerful duo up front with Vita Vea and the signings of defensive backs Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal give the secondary a lot of personnel flexibility. The Bucs also think 2021 first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka can emerge as a dangerous pass-rushing complement to Shaquil Barrett now that he is focused on the single role of starting outside linebacker.

Meanwhile, Dallas made a stunning turnaround on defense last year after the arrivals of Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn and Parsons, perhaps the most impactful rookie the NFL has seen in decades. Parsons arrived as an off-ball linebacker but was pressed into service as an edge rusher and merely led the team with 13 sacks. Meanwhile, cornerback Trevon Diggs led the NFL with 11 interceptions and the secret behind the Cowboys' league-leading 31.2 points per game is that they scored eight defensive touchdowns. The Buccaneers and Cowboys certainly could stage another thrilling shootout this time around, but there are two proud defenses aiming to provide fireworks of their own.

The Buccaneers couldn't quite capture a second straight title in 2021, losing on a last-second field goal to the eventual-champion Rams in the Divisional Round. That came after they tied for the NFL's best regular-season record at 13-4. The Cowboys were right behind at 12-5 but they tasted playoff disappointment again with an opening round loss to San Francisco in Dallas. Both teams are left with unfinished business. One will get a big boost towards finishing that business with a win on Sunday night.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)

Sunday, September 11, 8:20 p.m. ET

AT&T Stadium (capacity: 80,000)

Arlington, Texas

Television: NBC (Local WFLA Channel 8)

TV Broadcast Team: Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinswoth (analyst), Melissa Stark(reporter)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (sideline)


The Cowboys lead the all-time series with Tampa Bay 13-5, 15-5 if one includes the postseason, and for the better part of 45 years it has been a one-sided affair. However, the Buccaneers have (or are having) two stretches of competitiveness in this shared history, both revolving around their Super Bowl-winning seasons.

Basically, there was no Bucs-Cowboys rivalry during the first decade-and-a-half of the former club's existence. From 1966-85, Dallas made the playoffs 18 times in 20 seasons and played in five Super Bowls. Midway through that run, the Buccaneers were born as a 1976 expansion teamand they got their first crack at the Cowboys in 1977. The quarterback matchup was Roger Staubach against Gary Huff, and Dallas won easily, 23-7. The two teams would meet only seven more times over the next two-plus decades, with the Cowboys taking each contest. It didn't help that seven of those eight games were played in Texas; the Bucs are 1-10 on the road against the Cowboys all-time but are actually above .500 at home, as of a year ago.

The expansion Buccaneers did make a rather impressive rise to playoff contention in just four years, even advancing to the NFC Championship Game in 1979. That John McKay-Lee Roy Selmon-Doug Williams squad also qualified for the playoffs in 1981 and 1982; the problem was that each of those postseason runs began – and ended – with a trip to Dallas.

The series turned around, at least for a short stretch when the Buccaneers turned things around as a franchise in the latter half of the '90s. The Bucs and Cowboys didn't meet for nearly that entire decade then finally got together again in 2000. The Bucs, coming off a season in which they advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 22 years, won that meeting handily, 27-7, sparked by Warrick Dunn's 70-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game.

The Bucs beat the Cowboys twice more during their first Super Bowl era, 10-6 in Dallas to kick off the 2001 season and 16-0 in Tampa in 2003. The latter of those two games came with the defending Super Bowl XXXVII champions in the middle of an up-and-down title defense season. The defense took over, allowing just nine first downs and 178 yards of offense and getting key interceptions from Jermaine Phillips and Ronde Barber.

After that run, Dallas reestablished control of the head-to-head series, winning five straight including two in Tampa during the Raheem Morris years (2009 and 2011). The Bucs broke that run with an offensively-challenged 10-6 win at Raymond James Stadium in 2015, with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston breaking up an all-field goal battle with a game-winning touchdown run in the last minute. That bootleg one-yarder came right after Winston had a goal-line fumble erased by a penalty. The next year, the Buccaneers were on the edge of playoff contention in December but Dallas dealt the Bucs' hopes a serious blow with a 26-20 win most famous for running back Ezekiel Elliott's leap into a giant Salvation Army bucket behind the end zone.

The Cowboys also prevailed by a 27-20 margin in 2018 in Dallas but Tampa Bay has the most recent decision in the series. As defending Super Bowl champs, the Buccaneers got the Thursday night Kickoff Game spotlight last season and welcomed Dallas to town for what would prove to be a wild shootout. Basically abandoning the rushing attack, the Cowboys had Dak Prescott throw 58 times and the visitors rang up 451 yards to Tampa Bay's 431. Dallas had the lead late, too, after Greg Zuerlein's 48-yard field goal made it 29-28 with 1:24 to play, but that proved to be too much time to leave Tom Brady. Completions of 20 yards to Rob Gronkowski and 24 to Chris Godwin put Ryan Succop in range to make a 36-yard game-winner.


• Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles was the Cowboys' defensive backs coach from 2005-07.

• Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach Al Harris, who played cornerback for 14 years in the NFL, first entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in 1997. He spent his rookie campaign on Tampa Bay's practice squad and was then waived by the Buccaneers the following preseason.

• Dallas punter Bryan Anger served in the same role for the Buccaneers for three seasons, from 2016-18. He holds the Buccaneers' single-season records for gross punting average (45.9), net punting average (42.7) and punts inside the 20 (37), all set in 2016.

• Buccaneers safety Keanu Neal played one season in Dallas between his first five NFL years in Atlanta and his move to Tampa this year. Reuniting with former Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn, now the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, Neal agreed to a position switch to linebacker. He has moved back to his original position with the Buccaneers.

• Tampa Bay Specialists Coach Chris Boniol was a kicker for the Cowboys for three seasons (1994-96) and also began his coaching career in Dallas as an assistant special teams coach from 2010-13. Boniol helped Dallas win Super Bowl XXX, connecting on 27 of his 28 fieldgoal tries during that 1995 season.

• Buccaneers Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers first moved from the college coaching ranks into the NFL in 2003 with the Cowboys, starting out as the team's defensive tackles coach. After two seasons in that role he spent three more as the Cowboys' defensive line coach.

• Cowboys linebacker Devante Bond (currently on injured reserve) originally joined the league as a sixth-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in 2016. He played in 29 games with six starts over two-plus seasons in Tampa after spending his rookie season on injured reserve.


Tampa Bay:

• Head Coach Todd Bowles

• Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin

• Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

• Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers

• Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foot

• Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong


• Head Coach Mike McCarthy

• Assistant Head Coach Rob Davis

• Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore

• Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn

• Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel



• P Jake Camarda (fourth-round draft pick)

• WR Russell Gage (UFA)

• G Luke Goedeke (second-round draft pick)

• DL Logan Hall (second-round draft pick)

• T Fred Johnson (FA)

• WR Julio Jones (FA)

• TE Ko Kieft (sixth-round draft pick)

• G Shaq Mason (trade–NE)

• CB Zyon McCollum (fifth-round draft pick)

• OLB Carl Nassib (FA)

• S Keanu Neal (UFA)

• TE Cade Otton (fourth-round draft pick)

• TE Kyle Rudolph (FA)

• S Logan Ryan (FA)

• RB Rachaad White (third-round draft pick)


• DE Dante Fowler (FA)

• LB Anthony Barr (FA)

• TE Jake Ferguson (fourth-round draft pick)

• DL John Ridgeway (fifth-round draft pick)

• T Tyler Smith (first-round draft pick)

• WR Jalen Tolbert (third-round draft pick)

• WR/KR Kavontae Turpin (FA)

• WR James Washington (UFA – currently on injured reserve)

• DE Sam Williams (second-round draft pick)



• While the Bucs continue to maintain enviable continuity on their coaching staff, there is a new person in the corner office. In March, Bruce Arians stepped down after three years as the head coach and took on a new role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to take his place. Bowles previously served as the New York Jets' head coach from 2015-18 before rejoining Arians when the latter came on as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2019.

• With Bowles stepping up the Bucs needed a new defensive coordinator and they essentially named two of them. Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers added the title of Run Game Coordinator while Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote switched to inside linebackers and added the title of Pass Game Coordinator. They are in effect co-defensive coordinators. Bob Sanders joined the staff to take over for Foote in the outside linebackers room. Foote made his switch after Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville under new Head Coach Doug Pederson.

• The Buccaneers had two key players retire after the 2021 season, but only one of them stayed retired. While quarterback Tom Brady eventually elected to return 40 days after announcing he was stepping away from the game, his long-time buddy Rob Gronkowski walked away for good, leading to big changes in the Bucs' tight end room. While veteran Cam Brate returned, O.J. Howard left in free agency and the Buccaneers subsequently drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and signed veteran Kyle Rudolph.

• Tampa Bay's defense also saw the departure of two front-seven stalwarts from the extremely successful 2020-21 seasons, as neither DL Ndamukong Suh nor OLB Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed. The team signed veteran standout Akiem Hicks and drafted Houston's Logan Hall 33rd overall to address depth up front and are relying on 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to step up on the edge.


• Long known for fielding a dominant offensive line, the Cowboys will have a new look up front in 2022, particularly after star left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a torn hamstring that will sideline him for much of the season. Dallas also released right tackle La'el Collins in a cap-related move (he landed in Cincinnati) and saw left guard Connor Williams head to Miami in free agency. Dallas drafted Tulsa's Tyler Smith in the first round in April and initially had him battling Connor McGovern for the left guard spot but he will now be stepping in for the other T. Smith at left tackle. At right tackle, holdover Terence Steele is getting the chance to take over.

• Dallas also saw a shakeup in its receiving corps, beginning when Amari Cooper was also released for cap purposes (he went to Cleveland). With Michael Gallup still not all the way back from last season's ACL tear and Cedrick Wilson joining Connor Williams in the move to Miami, CeeDee Lamb becomes the unquestioned number one receiver, followed by a group of unproven players like Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko and rookie third-rounder Jalen Tolbert.

• Mike McCarthy is back for his third season as the Cowboys' head coach and he also kept coordinators Kellen Moore (offense), Dan Quinn (defense) and John Fassel (special teams) intact, but there was one change to the coaching staff. Robert Prince takes over for Adam Henry as the wide receivers coach; Prince previously worked with Moore at Boise State.


Vying for Tom's Attention – It's clear that the Buccaneers' offense is absolutely loaded with talented pass-catchers for Tom Brady to exploit. It's not year clear which of those talented players is going to end up as Brady's preferred target(s). The Buccaneers will be getting Chris Godwin back in action soon, perhaps in Week One, rejoining Mike Evans and now sharing a passing attack with Russell Gage and Julio Jones. If any of those four needs a break, the team can bring in speedy Scotty Miller, shifty Jaelon Darden or big-bodied Breshad Perriman. Rob Gronkowski is gone but Cameron Brate and Kyle Rudolph can offer production from the tight end spot. Leonard Fournette caught 69 passes last year but now may be sharing targets with impressive rookie back Rachaad White. Head Coach Todd Bowles said it might take three or four weeks for a real offensive identity to emerge for the 2022 Buccaneers, and in this case that's because there are almost too many options to know what combinations will prove best until they are put into practice.

Fast Start Needed – A year ago, the Buccaneers survived a shootout with the Cowboys on opening night but then had a couple extra days to prepare for a scuffling Atlanta squad in Week Two. They won that, then lost to the eventual champs in Los Angeles in Week Two before reeling off three straight against New England, Miami and Philadelphia. This year, the Buccaneers will have to fly home early Monday morning after their contest in Dallas and then fly back out to New Orleans five days later. Games against top contenders Green Bay and Kansas City will follow. It is truly a brutal first month on the Buccaneers' schedule, one that will require maximum effort to emerge from with a record above .500. That makes a fast start in Dallas feel even more critical so that the Buccaneers don't find themselves in an early hole and pressing to climb out of it against progressively more daunting opponents.

Finding Micah – Former Cardinals third baseman Fernando Tatis Sr. once hit two grand slams in the same inning against the Dodgers. It feels like the Cowboys did something similar in April of 2021 when they drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons 12th overall. Parsons was drafted as an off-ball linebacker and proved to be a force there with 75 tackles, three passes defensed and advanced coverage abilities against opposing tight ends. But when the Cowboys needed some injury replacement at edge rusher he was even more destructive at that spot, eventually leading all rookies with 13 sacks. He was named a first-team Associated Press All-Pro and was the first-ever unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year selection. The Cowboys' coaching staff is expected to continue to move Parsons all over to tap into his many talents, and this will make it more difficult for opposing teams to game plan for him during the week and figure out what he is doing on any given play during the game. Brady and company need to keep a constant eye on where Parsons is lining up and where it looks like he will be going.

Whose Line Holds? – The Buccaneers and Cowboys have had similar experiences on their offensive lines in 2022 so far. Tampa Bay had three Pro Bowl blockers last year and the league's best sack rate allowed, but they are entering 2022 with three new starters thanks to Alex Cappa's free agency departure, Ali Marpet's retirement and, most recently, Ryan Jensen's significant knee injury. While the trade for Shaq Mason produced an experienced replacement for Cappa the Bucs will go with second-year man Robert Hainsey at center and rookie Luke Goedeke at left guard. Both were Day Two draft picks widely considered to be future starters, but the future has arrived early. Dallas has long been known for dominance in the trenches but will have multiple new starters in 2022 as well. Star left tackle Tyron Smith is out indefinitely with a hamstring tear, left guard Connor Williams is now in Miami and right tackle La'el Collins was let go in a cap purge. Rookie Tyler Smith, the 24th-overall pick in the draft, is now likely to step in at left tackle but the Cowboys have definite question marks up front. Which of these new front lines is going to do the best job of imitating their impressive predecessors?

Will They Run? – The 2019 Buccaneers had the number-one ranked run defense in the NFL. So did the 2020 Buccaneers. Despite that, when the Cowboys came to Tampa to kick off the 2021 season, Buccaneers linebacker Devin White expected the Dallas offense to attempt to impose its will on the ground anyway. That's not what happened. The Cowboys essentially abandoned the run early and eventually had Dak Prescott throw 58 passes. White said that the Dallas offense basically used short passes as a de facto rushing attack, which the Bucs were not expecting. This year, Tampa Bay's defense is not setting any expectations as to the Cowboys' strategic approach to the run-pass balance. However, as always, they still think it is important to stop the run first in order to try to make each opposing offense one-dimensional. That's not necessarily an easy task when the Cowboys have a two-headed backfield attack of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. "We're expecting to stop the run, Coach Kacy [Rodgers] emphasized that. We've got to really buckle down because they've got two great backs, two of the [best] backs in the NFL. We've got to be ready to stop those two guys."


1. Cowboys T Tyler Smith vs. Buccaneers OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

As noted above, the Cowboys have had to shift their plans for the start of their first-rounder's career. Smith was battling Connor McGovern for the starting left guard spot until all-star left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a torn hamstring that will keep him out well into the 2022 season. As such, Smith is moving to the prime spot on the line protecting Dak Prescott's blind side from the league's best pass-rushers. The rookie is a near perfect fill-in for the injured starter in terms of the letters in their names, but it remains to be seen how close he can emulate Tyron Smith's high level of play. The Cowboys drafted the Tulsa standout 24th overall based on an impressive size-power profile, but he has good foot quickness as well. He'll get a big dose of the Buccaneers' 2021 first-round pick as Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is stepping into a starting role on the right edge of the team's defensive front. Tryon-Shoyinka had four sacks as a rookie but was pressed into a variety of different roles, sometimes coming off the edge but also rushing from the interior line and occasionally dropping into coverage. Tryon-Shoyinka repeatedly showed off an explosive first step during the Buccaneers' recent training camp, frequently getting around the opposing blocker in an instant, but he also has a power game that could set up some interesting reps against the 6-5, 324-pound smith.

2. Buccaneers WR Russell Gage vs. Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis

A season ago, wideout Chris Godwin caught nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown as the Buccaneers eked out a 31-29 victory over Dallas on opening night. Godwin played 53% of his snaps in the slot in 2021, so he definitely got some work against Cowboys nickel corner Jourdan Lewis. That was an interesting matchup because both Godwin and Lewis have a very physical style of play. This year, it's uncertain if or how much Godwin will play in another season-opening matchup with the Dolphins as he makes his deliberate return from a December knee injury. Even if Godwin is limited, the Buccaneers will be able to field a very good slot weapon in newcomer Russell Gage, who excelled from that spot with Atlanta last year. Tom Brady worked the middle of the field relentlessly in last year's meeting on his way to 379 yards, and 53 of Godwin's 105 yards – almost exactly half – came after the catch. Not only is Lewis a physical corner but he makes plays on the ball well and can redirect at the line of scrimmage. Lewis is also a good blitzer, so the Bucs will need to be aware of that possibility when he's lined up over Gage or another receiver in the slot.

3. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Buccaneers ILB Devin White

When the Buccaneers signed former Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in June they envisioned parking him next to the equally mountainous Vita Vea and creating an impenetrable front. The hope is that Hicks and Vea will demand frequent double teams on the inside, freeing up swift linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David to dash through gaps and stop ballcarriers dead in their tracks. Last season, White led the Bucs' defense with 128 tackles and also 62 stops specifically on running plays, including a team-high five that went for a loss. In what was considered a bit of a down year for Elliott in 2021 he still ran for 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The 6-0, 228-pound back is a heavy load between the tackles, often able to generate extra yards as he powers through contact, so White will not only need to get to the ball quickly but also build up leverage to get Elliott down immediately. White is also an extremely good blitzer but Elliott matches that with outstanding work in pass protection, so the two may occasionally butt heads around the quarterback.

4. Buccaneers G Luke Goedeke vs. Cowboys DT Osa Odighizuwa

Like the Cowboys, the Buccaneers will also be starting a rookie on their offensive line in place of a Pro Bowl performer, as second-round pick Luke Goedeke has been tabbed to replace the retired Ali Marpet at left guard. Goedeke played tackle at Central Michigan but he's got the attitude to be an intense mauler in an interior-line spot, something the Bucs could use with the intense Ryan Jensen on injured reserve and not available to set the tone for the line. Goedeke displays good technique and always finishes plays to the whistle and he has the athleticism that initially made him a tight end in college. He will get a big dose of the Cowboys' three-technique tackle, 2021 third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa. On the surface, Odighizuwa's rookie-season totals look unassuming, as he finished with 36 tackles and 2.0 sacks in 16 games and 12 starts. However, according to NFL Next Gen Stats the former UCLA standout was a season-long menace in opposing backfields. His 28 quarterback pressures, by NGS tally, were the seventh most among all NFL rookies last year, and they were the third most that a rookie interior lineman has mustered in a season since 2016. Odighizuwa has a very quick first step and he has the sort of body control and bend that allow him to shoot his way through gaps on the inside. In his first regular-season start, Goedeke will have his hands full working to keep up-the-middle pressure off of Tom Brady.



DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed.


  • RB Giovani Bernard (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • ILB Lavonte David (not injury related - WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • S Mike Edwards (illness) - WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • WR Mike Evans (not injury related) - WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • WR Russell Gage (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • WR Chris Godwin (knee) – WEDS: FP; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • WR Julio Jones (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • CB Zyon McCollum (hamstring) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
  • S Logan Ryan (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • T Tristan Wirfs (abdominal) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.


  • WR Michael Gallup (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Out.
  • S Jayron Kearse (neck) - WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • QB Dak Prescott (ankle) - WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.


Domed stadium with retractable roof; Outside evening weather: Partly cloudy, evening low of 65, 1% chance of rain, 53% humidity, winds out of the NNE at 10-15 mph.


Head referee: Ron Torbert (13th season, 9th as referee)


• Favorite: Buccaneers (-2.5)

• Over/Under: 50.5

INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS (2021 final totals)


Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 131

Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 14

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 5,316

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 102.1

Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 812

Receptions: WR Chris Godwin, 98

Receiving Yards: WR Chris Godwin, 1,103

Interceptions: S Mike Edwards, 3

Sacks: OLB Shaquil Barrett, 10.0

Tackles: LB Devin White, 128


Points Scored: K Greg Zuerlein, 129

Touchdowns: RB Ezekiel Elliott, 12

Passing Yards: QB Dak Prescott, 4,449

Passer Rating: QB Dak Prescott, 104.2

Rushing Yards: RB Ezekiel Elliott, 1,002

Receptions: WR CeeDee Lamb, 79

Receiving Yards: WR CeeDee Lamb, 1,102

Interceptions: CB Trevon Diggs, 11

Sacks: LB Micah Parsons, 13.0

Tackles: S Jayron Kearse, 98

TEAM STAT RANKINGS (2021 end of season)


Scoring Offense: 2nd (30.1 ppg)

Total Offense: 2nd (405.9 ypg)

Passing Offense: 1st (307.6 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 26th (98.4 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: 2nd (23.8)

Third-Down Pct.: 2nd (47.9%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 1st (3.15%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 2nd (66.2%)

Scoring Defense: 6th (20.8 ppg)

Total Defense: 13th (331.5 ypg)

Passing Defense: 21st (238.9 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 3rd (92.5 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 17th (20.2)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 12th (38.5%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 12th (6.91%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 10th (52.5%)

Turnover Margin: 6th (+10)


Scoring Offense: 1st (31.2 ppg)

Total Offense: 1st (407.0 ypg)

Passing Offense: t-2nd (282.4 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 9th (124.6 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: 6th (22.9)

Third-Down Pct.: 11th (43.4%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 6th (5.10%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 6th (63.1%)

Scoring Defense: 7th (21.1 ppg)

Total Defense: 19th (351.0 ypg)

Passing Defense: 20th (238.2 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 16th (112.8 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-8th (19.2)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 2nd (34.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 15th (6.70%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 21st (60.9%)

Turnover Margin: t-1st (+14)


• Tight End Cameron Brate enters his ninth NFL season with 33 career touchdown catches. His next one will tie him with Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles for second place in franchise history in receiving TDs and fourth place in overall touchdowns.

• Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett has amassed 37.5 sacks in just three seasons with the Buccaneers. With two more, he would pass David Logan (39.0) for the fifth most sacks in team history.

• Wide receiver Mike Evans already owns Tampa Bay's career touchdown mark and virtually every career receiving record, but now he's closing in on the top spot in another category: yards from scrimmage. Former running back James Wilder has long held that record with 9,449 but Evans is now up to 9,311. That means Evans needs 139 more yards from scrimmage to take that record from Wilder.

• Julio Jones will move up a spot on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage chart when he gets 53 more. That would put his career mark at 13,383 and push him past Torry Holt (13,382) for the 16th-most receiving yards ever.

• Wide receiver Chris Godwin has 29 touchdown catches on his resume. Two more would move him into a tie with Kevin House for the fourth-most in team history.


• Head Coach Todd Bowles on what he's seen of the Dallas Cowboys: "They're similar to last year – they're very big upfront, they're quick on the defensive side of the ball. They've got ball-hawks in the secondary, they pressure you quite a bit. They can run the ball with the two running backs, and they can throw the ball as well. Their quarterback is extremely bright, very smart, he knows where to go with the football – just a well-coached team."

• Wide receiver Mike Evans on the Buccaneers' receiving corps, which added Russell Gage and Julio Jones in 2022: "It's crazy – an all-time great (Antonio Brown) left and then we bring another all-time great in. It's crazy. I'm looking forward to what we can do this season. We had a phenomenal camp. Russ and Julio – we saw them put in work in Atlanta and they're going to put in a lot of work for us."

• Tackle Donovan Smith on rookie Luke Goedeke, who is starting at left guard: "He's great. He's very smart. He's somebody who's in the film room early, he's in the film room after, so he definitely puts some time in. I'm more excited just to see how he gets out there and gets going. I'm just happy with how physical he plays – he definitely brings that to the team, which is huge. I'm really excited. He's more than capable of getting the job done, and I'm rooting for him, obviously. Nothing to worry about there."

• Running Back Rachaad White on if he expected to win the second running back spot: "I wrote goals and standards in my notes-to-self notebook that I have, and that was one of the goals that I had coming out of preseason, training camp, things like that, to make sure I'm the number-two guy. I would say I expected myself to be here, but I've just been playing ball, trying to stack days, getting better each day, take the coaching and just go from there. So, it's just a blessing that I am RB2."

• Quarterback Tom Brady on what he sees from the Cowboys on tape: "They're a good football team. They have a lot of dynamic players in the pass rush, at linebacker. In the secondary, Trevon [Diggs] is a great player, led the league in interceptions last year. Micah [Parsons] is a hell of a player – all over the field, they line him up at linebacker, defensive end, he rushes a lot, covers well. DeMarcus Lawrence is a great player. They rush the passer, I think they have a good scheme, they mix things up quite a bit. We're playing them at home and they've got a very good offense, so they're a tough team to beat. It's going to be a big challenge for the opener."

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