To say the Dallas Cowboys were disappointing in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be an understatement.
The Buccaneers won by a score of 19-3 and Tom Brady moved to 7-0 all-time against the Cowboys.
But the bad news doesn’t end there: Dak Prescott left the game late in the fourth quarter after suffering a hand injury. After the game, Jerry Jones announced Prescott will miss several weeks because the injury will require surgery. Prescott is believed to have fractured his thumb, but the QB will see a doctor later today to learn the full extent of his injury.
This is the worst news the Cowboys could’ve gotten. The last time Dallas was without Prescott for an extended period of time was in 2020 when he fractured his ankle in Week 5 and missed the remainder of the season. In Prescott’s absence, the Cowboys went 4-7 and finished third in the NFC East.
Here are the other major takeaways from the Week 1 loss:
The offense was out of sync
This was one of the worst offensive performances Dallas has seen in the last decade. This was just the third time since 2010 that the Cowboys scored three points or less.
Here are the stat lines from some of Dallas’ key offensive players:
- Dak Prescott: 14/29 passing for 134 yards and one interception
- Ezekiel Elliott: 10 rushes for 52 yards
- Tony Pollard: six rushes for eight yards
- CeeDee Lamb: two receptions for 29 yards
- Dalton Schultz: seven receptions for 62 yards
Noah Brown was Dallas’ leading receiver, catching five passes for 68 receiving yards.
All around, it was a terrible night offensively. The Buccaneers were able to give Lamb and Schultz extra attention defensively, and the lack of experience in the wide receiving group was glaring as Prescott couldn’t move the ball through the air. Prescott’s two longest completions of the night went for 16 and 14 yards.
Dallas also failed to establish the running game, but it wasn’t because Elliott and Pollard failed to rush the ball efficiently. The Cowboys only ran the ball 16 times. This put far too much responsibility on Prescott and the receivers, who clearly didn’t come through.
Had offensive coordinator Kellen Moore went to the run game more often, it could’ve opened up passing lanes for Prescott. The lack of carries for Elliott was surprising considering Jones’ comments earlier in training camp about the offense revolving around the seventh-year back.
The defense looked solid
There aren’t many positives for the Cowboys to take from this loss. But one is the strong play from Micah Parsons and the defense.
Parsons sacked Brady twice; both times on third down when Tampa Bay was in the red zone. Parsons’ biggest plays came when the defense needed it most.
The Buccaneers did find themselves in scoring position a lot through this game, but the defense only allowed one touchdown.
Brady went 18/27 passing for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
One area the defense could’ve been better is stopping the run. Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries.
The Cowboys are last in the NFC East
Dallas was the only NFC East team to suffer defeat on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles took down the Detroit Lions, the Washington Commanders beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants upset the Tennessee Titans.
The Eagles and Commanders wins weren’t shocking, as both teams were favorites in their matchups. The Giants, on the other hand, were underdogs on the road in Tennessee.
The Cowboys will soon have the chance to make up some ground as they take on the Giants in Week 3 and the Commanders in Week 4.
Multiple starters left with injuries
Outside of Prescott, a few other key contributors got banged up in the loss.
Left guard Connor McGovern injured his ankle on the Cowboys opening drive and didn’t return to the game. After the game, McGovern was in a walking boot and Jones said he suffered a high ankle sprain. No timetable was provided for when McGovern will return, but the third-year guard will likely undergo further testing today.
Safety Jayron Kearse suffered a knee injury late in the game and was on crutches in the locker room after the game ended. The Dallas Morning News reported Kearse will have an MRI today to learn the extent of his injury.
Defensive end Tarell Basham was helped off the field late in the game. Basham went to the locker room following the injury and didn’t return to action. No update was provided regarding his status.