The Dallas Cowboys opened their 2022 season with a very lackluster performance at home on Sunday night, falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dak the Inaccurate
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott struggled to connect with his wide receivers all night, ending with just 134 yards passing. Most of that coming late in the game with the Cowboys down.
After starting the game 3-for-3, he connected on just three of 13 throws the rest of the first half, finishing with just 53 yards.
The second half wasn’t much better for the 7-year veteran. Prescott went eight for 13 in the second half.
While the injured ankle that landed him on the injury report late in the week didn’t look to affect him, Prescott finished the early night with just 134 yards passing and 11 yards rushing in the loss. He exited the game late with what appeared to be an injured finger on his throwing hand. Cooper Rush finished out the fourth quarter.
O-line holds together
The biggest worry for the Cowboys coming into Sunday night’s game was their offensive line. With three new starters – left tackle Tyler Smith, left guard Connor McGovern and right tackle Terrence Steele, it could have been a long night going up against one of the top defenses in the league last season.
And despite McGovern going down with an injury in the first series of the game, which forced rookie Matt Farniok into the lineup, the unit, which regularly had help from one or two tight ends, held up well.
Prescott was sacked just twice, but the offense could never really get out of the starting gate.
Dallas defense struggles
While the scores were hard to come by for the Buccaneers, the yards were not. The Dallas defense was torched on the ground with power runs from Leonard Fournette all night. Fournette popped runs of 17, 17, 10, 11 and 10, as he gained 127 yards on 21 carries, against what was supposed to be the strength of the Cowboys.
Once the ground game started going, the passing game opened up for Tom Brady and the Bucs.
Dallas was able to clamp down on Brady early, sacking him twice deep in Dallas territory to halt drives in the first half. But the future Hall of Famer finished with 18 completions for 212 yards and one touchdown.
Last year the Cowboys were the most penalized team in the NFL, and things haven’t gotten any better in Week 1 a year later.
Head coach Mike McCarthy made cleaning up the penalties a priority in the offseason. But after Week 1, it appears the Cowboys still have a lot of work to do.
Dallas was flagged 10 times for 73 yards in its loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday night.
Parsons on the prowl
Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, started his sophomore campaign right where he left off last season – wreaking havoc from sideline to sideline.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn lined the do-everything Parsons up at linebacker and both defensive ends, trying to exploit his speed and power.
And it worked. Parsons helped shut down the Bucs in the first half with a pair of third-down sacks that halted deep Tampa Bay drives. He finished with five tackles and the two sacks, but was in Brady’s face all night.