Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 14

The Cowboys dominated the Buccaneers, 31-14 in the Wild Card Round, abruptly ending Tampa Bay's 2022-23 season 

Wild Card RR_

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-14, in an onslaught at Raymond James Stadium. Tom Brady's 7-0 reign of dominance over America's team ended, ending the Buccaneers 2022-23 season. The Cowboys won the battle at the line of scrimmage, entrenching their victory in prime-time.

In the first quarter, both the Buccaneers and Cowboys' defenses forced back-to-back three-and-outs. For Tampa Bay, the second came off a third-down sack by Vita Vea, who shot through the interior and dropped Dak Prescott for a loss of eight yards, capping off a six-play drive of -5 yards for Dallas.  The game's first first down came on the 14th play of the game as Prescott connected with Michael Gallup. The Cowboys drew first blood on that drive, as Prescott found Dalton Schultz for a 22-yard touchdown. At the end of the aforementioned seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive, Brett Maher missed the extra point, so the Cowboys only came away with six.

The Bucs' answered with a long, promising drive, including a Patrick Mahomes-esque play by Tom Brady in which he evaded pressure and pitched the ball to Chris Godwin for a third-down conversion. However, an end zone interception by Jayron Kearse changed the tide and put Prescott and co. back on the field early in the second quarter. The Cowboys took advantage of the Bucs' goal-line misstep, resulting in a naked Prescott bootleg around the left side for a touchdown. Maher once again missed the extra point, making it a 12-0 deficit for the home team. Before halftime, the Cowboys took an 18-0 lead, wrapping up an 11-play drive with a Schultz touchdown. Prescott scrambled to keep the play alive and connected with his go-to target in the back of the end zone before another missed extra point. During the first two frames, the Cowboys held a yard advantage of 246-120.

The trouncing continued in the third quarter. Needing a desperate swing in momentum, the Cowboys' defense forced a quick three-and-out. The visiting team's offense rubbed salt in the wound with another 80-plus yard drive, this one culminating in a Gallup touchdown. Maher missed the extra point for the fourth time (the only player in an NFL game since 1932 to miss four extra points in a single game), making it a 24-0 demolition. The Cowboys dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football, dictating the pace of the game.

To end the third quarter, the Bucs were able to get on the scoreboard as Brady connected with Julio Jones down the left sideline on a 30-yard bomb, cutting the Cowboys' lead to 18. The two-point attempt failed, in a microcosm of the day for Tampa Bay – nothing going right. On the ensuing drive for Dallas, Prescott threw his fifth touchdown of the night. Blown coverage by the Buccaneers led to a wide-open Lamb, who danced into the end zone for a 31-6 lead in the single elimination tournament.

A sack on Brady from third-and-goal by Hankins sealed the team's fate. The Cowboys forced the Buccaneers to fold, abruptly ending their tumultuous season. After a Cam Brate touchdown and ensuing successful two-point attempt, the Bucs recovered an onside kick with 2:00 to play down 31-14. However, too many miscues and missed opportunities led to the team's sputtering.

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