Four Downs: Dallas barely falls short of Tampa Bay

To the surprise of many, the Dallas Cowboys went toe to toe with the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers falling 31-29. Quarterback Dak Prescott made his much-anticipated return and didn’t disappoint as both he and Tom Brady went blow for blow. In the end, it was Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein’s two missed field goals that cost them the game. Below we take a look at our four biggest takeaways from tonight’s loss.

Dak Prescott

If there were any questions as to how Prescott would be in his first game since week five of last season they were answered tonight. With no run game to speak of Prescott toated the load finishing with 416 of the Cowboys’ 440 yards of offense accounting for three touchdowns. He passed for 403 yards on 42-of-58 turning a vintage performance. Aside from his lone interception, he looked like his old self which should be a huge boost of confidence moving forward.

Defensive Improvements

Despite allowing the game-winning field goal drive, the Cowboys’ defense showed improvement under first-year coordinator Dan Quinn forcing four turnovers and multiple punts. Corners Jourdan Lewis and Trevon Diggs each had an interception while Lewis and end Randy Gregory each had fumble recoveries. While the 431 yards allowed isn’t good, they held Brady and Co. to three of five in the red zone and five of 11 on third downs. The unit still has a ways to go but tonight was a positive step.

Receiving Core In Form

While most credit should go to Prescott his receivers turned in a great game led by Amari Cooper. Cooper led in catches, yards, and touchdowns with 13 for 139 and two scores. Second-year CeeDee Lamb showed no signs of a sophomore slump hauling in seven catches for 104 yards and a score overcoming early drops. Rounding out the unit was receiver Michael Gallup and tight end Dalton Schultz who combined for 10 catches and 81 yards. The lack of practice hasn’t seemed to hurt this group and it’s a good sign that the offense is still able to move and score when the run game isn’t working.

Red Zone Woes

There was a lot of good tonight but when things were bad they were bad. Dallas finished one of four in the red zone continuing last season’s trend. Zuerlein, fresh of back surgery, showed his rust by going three of five including a mixed extra point. While the 60 yarder he missed before the end of the first half can be excused the other misses can’t. Even if he hits just one Dallas is sitting at 1-0 instead of 0-1.

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