Buccaneers Falter Again as Cowboys Clinch a Playoff Birth

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball into the end zone to score a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ comeback bid fell short as they fell to the Cowboys 20-27 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. The victory clinched the division title for the Dallas Cowboys as they moved to 8-0 on the season in games where they score 20 or more points. The Tampa Bay offensive struggles in the redzone continued as they only converted 50% (2/4) of their opportunities.

First Quarter

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored an opening drive field goal by Cairo Santos, thanks to a 38-yard reception by Mike Evans. However, the Cowboys responded with a touchdown. Dak Prescott scored a rushing touchdown after a fake to Ezekiel Elliott, giving the Cowboys a 3-7 lead. Later in the quarter, the Cowboys scored again by stripping Jameis Winston and returning the fumble for a touchdown. The Jaylon Smith 69-yard touchdown gave Dallas a 3-14 lead.

Second Quarter

Cairo Santos nailed a 45-yard field goal at the beginning of the quarter to bring the Buccaneers within one score 6-14. The defense played well in the second quarter, only allowing a 59-yard field goal by Brett Maher. The Tampa Bay offense rallied together for a touchdown drive at the end of the quarter, executing the two-minute drill to perfection. Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson made catches on the final first half drive that helped lead to a Jacquizz Rodgers touchdown run. After the extra point, the Buccaneers trailed the Cowboys 13-17 heading into halftime. Vita Vea also sacked Dak Prescott on the last play of the first half, for his third sack of the season.

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Second Half

Third Quarter

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense forced a punt on the first Cowboys’ possession of the first half. Cairo Santos missed a 52-yard field goal, which set up Dallas with good field position. Dallas converted the field position into a field goal to extend the lead to 13-20. On the next Tampa Bay possession, a fumble set the Cowboys up with first-and-goal. Dak Prescott found Michael Gallup for a touchdown. Brent Grimes looked completely lost in coverage as Gallup beat Grimes to the back pylon.

Fourth Quarter

A 17-play drive with two fourth down conversions resulted in no points as the Buccaneers were stopped on fourth down in side the redzone. A delay of game turned the fourth and one into a fourth and six. The drive took 9:35 off the clock. The Cowboys took over inside their own five and killed 3:20 off of the clock. Tampa Bay was able to put together a touchdown drive that left 2:00 on the clock, but the failed onside kick ended the game. Mike Evans caught the touchdown from Jameis Winston.

Jameis Winston totaled 336 passing yards and a touchdown. Mike Evans led the Buccaneers in receiving with six receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Dak Prescott finished with 161 yards with a touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott compiled 109 total yards in the game.

Next week, the Buccaneers will finish their season at home against Atlanta.

The Cowboys will take a trip to New York to face the Giants for their season finale.


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