The Bucs' defense was strong during the first half but surrendered a late TD to WR Roy Williams as the Cowboys took a 10-6 lead
For the better part of the first half on Sunday at Texas Stadium, the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to be in control. All that changed on a late drive by the Dallas Cowboys, as WR Roy Williams' two-yard score with just one second left on the clock gave the Cowboys a 10-6 halftime lead. The drive was helped immeasurably by four rapid-fire penalties on the Buccaneers' defense.
The Bucs got on the board early. Bolstered by a 20-yard punt return by rookie RB Clifton Smith, who was making his NFL debut, the Bucs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on their opening offensive possession after forcing a Cowboys three-and-out. WR Antonio Bryant caught three passes for 25 yards on the drive that was capped by K Matt Bryant's 36-yard field goal.
Bryant hit another 36-yard field goal late in the first quarter to extend the Bucs' lead to 6-0. The Tampa Bay defense continued to shut down the Dallas offense, forcing two more three-and-outs, and the Bucs offense moved 34 yards in nine plays to set up Bryant's second field goal of the day.
The Cowboys added a field goal of their own early in the second quarter. QB Brad Johnson was nearly intercepted twice after Dallas had moved into the Bucs' red zone, but both times the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. K Nick Folk then made it 6-3 with a 38-yarder with 9:29 to go in the half.
The Bucs had a chance to extend the lead later in the second quarter, but Bryant's third field goal attempt of the day, this time from 51 yards out, sailed wide to the right and was no good. The Bucs had driven 47 yards in 12 plays to set up the try.
The Cowboys were able to secure the momentum, and the 10-6 lead, going into halftime on a late drive that was capped by Williams' touchdown on a fade pattern. Dallas marched 31 yards on 10 plays, aided by 28 yards in Tampa Bay penalties, and took the lead on the two-yard pass from Johnson.
For the half, the Bucs outgained the Cowboys 130 yards to 101, but six penalties for 43 yards helped the Cowboys out. Garcia looked sharp, completing 12-of-17 passes for 113 yards, while his counterpart Johnson passed for only 57 yards, but did throw the go-ahead touchdown.
- The Cowboys won the toss and elected to receive. WR Miles Austin returned K Matt Bryant's kickoff to the Dallas 23-yard line. QB Brad Johnson came out throwing on first down, but his pass intended for RB Marion Barber over the middle fell incomplete. On second down, Barber was stuffed on a run to the right for a gain of just one yard. Facing third-and-nine, Johnson was pressured by a blitz from CB Phillip Buchanon and was forced to throw it away. P Sam Paulescu's punt was fielded by RB Clifton Smith and returned all the way to the Dallas 47. * On first down, QB Jeff Garcia found WR Antonio Bryant for a gain of eight. Bryant then took another pass from Garcia on a nifty wide receiver screen that picked up 12 more yards and a first down. Now at the Dallas 27-yard line, RB Earnest Graham took a handoff to the right and spun ahead for a gain of four. On second down, Bryant made an excellent grab over a defender's head and picked up five yards, setting up third-and-one at the 18. Graham was stopped on the play for no gain, bringing Bryant on to attempt a 36-yard attempt. The kick sailed through the uprights, giving the Bucs an early 3-0 lead. * WR Isaiah Stanback returned the ensuing kickoff to the Dallas 20-yard line. Johnson's first down pass intended for WR Patrick Crayton was a bit high and bounced off the receiver's hands incomplete. Johnson completed a pass on second down to WR Terrell Owens, but he was immediately slammed down by S Jermaine Phillips after picking up seven yards. On third-and-three, Johnson looked for Owens again down the sideline, but the pass was off target and fell incomplete, bringing the punting unit on once again. Smith returned this punt to the Bucs' 38-yard line, where Garcia and the offense took over. * Garcia found Smith on first down for a gain of 13 yards, moving the chains. Garcia then tried a deep pass to WR Joey Galloway, but the pass was just overthrown and fell incomplete. On second down at the Dallas 49, Garcia threw a quick strike to the left to Bryant that picked up seven. The Bucs then burned their first timeout of the half before the third down play. Garcia got nailed on a safety blitz but was able to get the ball away, but his deep pass down the sideline for Bryant was overthrown, bringing P Josh Bidwell into the game. Bidwell's punt was fair caught by Crayton at the Dallas seven-yard line. * Barber took a first down carry and was brought down after picking up two yards, then was stuffed on second down for a gain of just one. Before the third down play, the Cowboys backed up five yards on a false start penalty. Now facing third-and-12, Barber took a draw handoff and picked up just eight, bringing the punter out once again. Smith returned Paulescu's punt 14 yards to the Bucs' 48-yard line. * On first down, Graham picked his way forward on a run to the right for four yards, then was smacked by LB Zach Thomas on second down after a gain of two. Facing third-and-four, Garcia shoveled a short pass to Dunn who was immediately tackled, but the Cowboys were offside on the play. The five-yard penalty gave the Bucs a fresh set of downs. Now at the Dallas 41, Garcia threw a pass to the right to TE Jerramy Stevens, who dragged his defender ahead for a pickup of nine. Graham then burrowed up the middle for a yard, moving the sticks. Garcia then hit WR Michael Clayton on a beautifully-executed slant route that picked up 17 yards and moved the Bucs into the Dallas red zone at the 14-yard line. RB Warrick Dunn was stopped for no gain on a first down run. Garcia was then flushed out of the pocket and hit Bryant on second down, but Garcia was penalized for being over the line of scrimmage when he released the pass. The five-yard penalty and loss of down set up third-and-14 at the Dallas 18. On the play, Galloway very nearly made an outstanding grab that would have picked up a first down, but the pass was incomplete. The Bucs were also flagged for illegal motion, but the Cowboys declined the penalty. Bryant came on to attempt another 36-yarder, and this one was good as well, making it 6-0 in favor of the Bucs. * Austin returned Bryant's kick to the Dallas 29-yard line. On first down, Johnson hit TE Jason Witten over the middle, who was stood up immediately by LB Barrett Ruud after an eight-yard gain. Barber then picked up the Cowboys' first first down of the game by rushing ahead for a gain of three as the first quarter came to a close. On first-and-10 at the Dallas 40, Johnson hit WR Roy Williams for a gain of eight. Barber then found a hole and darted ahead for six yards and a first down. Now in Tampa Bay territory at the 46-yard line, Barber was stopped for a gain of one on first down. On second down, Johnson's pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage by LB Cato June and fell harmlessly to the turf. Facing third-and-nine, Johnson hit TE Martellus Bennett for 10 yards and a first down. Now at the Tampa Bay 35, Johnson threw a quick pass to Owens, but Buchanon made a nice open-field tackle for a one-yard loss. On second down, Barber bowled over a tackler and rumbled ahead for 10 yards. On third-and-one, Barber plowed up the middle for two yards and yet another first down at the Tampa Bay 24. The Cowboys then used their first timeout of the half. Johnson was then very nearly intercepted by LB Derrick Brooks as the ball tipped just off his fingertips. On second down, Barber spun off a tackler and fell forward for four yards, setting up third-and-six at the Bucs' 20. On the play, Johnson was almost intercepted again, this time by Buchanon, but the pass once again fell incomplete. K Nick Folk then came on to attempt a 38-yard field goal, and the kick was good, making it 6-3 Bucs. * Smith returned the kickoff to the Bucs' 25-yard line. Graham slipped in the backfield on first down and lost two yards and Garcia's second-down pass was batted at the line and landed incomplete. Facing third-and-12 at the Tampa Bay 23, Garcia hit a wide-open Galloway for 20 yards and the Bucs' first third-down conversion of the day. Now at the Tampa Bay 43, Garcia threw a bullet to Bryant that bounced off his hands incomplete. On second down, Galloway then took a quick pass immediately after the snap and sprinted ahead for 13 yards and another first down. Now in Dallas territory at the 44, Graham ran up the gut for three yards. On second down, Graham caught a pass in the flat to the right and was immediately smacked down after a gain of three. Facing third-and-four, Garcia scrambled up the middle, picking up six yards and moving the sticks once again. On first down at the Dallas 32, Graham ran up the middle for seven yards. On second down, Graham was stuffed for no gain, but a holding call moved the Bucs back 10 yards, setting up second-and-13 at the 35. Garcia dumped a short pass over the middle to Dunn that went for a gain of five yards. On third-and-eight, Garcia was hit and threw incomplete, but the Cowboys were offside, so the Bucs picked up five free yards. Facing third-and-three, Garcia scrambled to his right and slipped, losing eight yards on a sack. Bryant came on to attempt a 51-yard field goal, but the kick sailed wide right and was no good. * The missed field goal gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 41-yard line. On first down, Barber sprinted up the middle for a gain of nine as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning. Barber then ran up the gut for another three yards and a first down as the Cowboys went into the hurry-up offense. Johnson then hit Owens, who ran out of bounds to stop the clock after picking up four yards. On second-and-six at the Bucs' 44, DE Gaines Adams came untouched up the middle and laid a monstrous hit on Johnson for a six-yard sack. Now facing third-and-12, Barber caught a screen pass and was dragged down for a short gain, but a horse collar tackle by CB Ronde Barber gave the Cowboys 15 yards and kept the drive alive. Now at the Tampa Bay 33 with 40 seconds left, Johnson hit Bennett for five yards and Dallas burned their second timeout. On second-and-five, Johnson had plenty of time in the pocket but his pass sailed well over the head of his intended target and was incomplete. Now facing third-and-five at the Bucs' 28 with 28 seconds left, Johnson hit Williams in the face of pressure, but a pass interference call gave the Cowboys a first down at the 22. On first down with just 24 seconds left, Johnson threw deep to Owens incomplete, but an illegal contact penalty gave the Cowboys yet another five yards and set up first-and-10 at the Bucs' 17-yard line with 18 seconds left. Johnson looked for Owens again in the same corner of the end zone, but overthrew his receiver once again. On second down, Johnson hit Crayton for 13 yards, and a 15-yard penalty on June set the Cowboys up at the Bucs' two-yard line as they used their final time out. With just six seconds left and no timeouts, Johnson threw a fade pass that Williams was able to out-jump Buchanon for, and the Cowboys took the lead on the two-yard score. Folk's extra point made it 10-6 in favor of the Cowboys. * LB Adam Hayward recovered the ensuing kickoff as the first half came to a close.