With all of the Bucs starters scheduled to sit out their final preseason game of the season, the big news before kickoff was that projected starting safety Justin Evans was also going to be held out.

Evans has been recovering from ankle and calf injuries throughout the summer, and was just activated from the PUP list earlier this week. We’re sure the team would have liked to get Evans some in-game reps before Week 1, but it appears they want to play it safe and rest him as much as they could before the regular season rolls around next Sunday.

As for the players who were on the field, quarterback Ryan Griffin and running back Dare Ogunbowale started for the Bucs and were the main attraction in the first half. In the Bucs first drive, both of those players looked good before a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage was intercepted and taken back to the house for the Cowboys to take their first lead of the game, 6-0.

After a more well-established drive their second time out, the Bucs were still forced to punt. However, when the Cowboys took over, it only took one play for Bucs pass rusher Shaq Barrett to force a strip sack and recovery for Tampa Bay. Griffin and the Bucs offense capitalized on the short field with a touchdown throw to tight end Tanner Hudson, giving them the 7-6 lead.

After a Dallas punt, the Bucs took over once again. Griffin continued his stoic work of the offense, but as they crossed mid-field, a pass to wide receiver Scotty Miller was a tad behind; off his hands and intercepted by the Cowboys secondary.

It was a back-and-forth battle of punts after that. In the meantime, rookie quarterback Vincent Testaverde Jr. took over for the Buccaneers. After a quick drive where he went three-and-out, Testaverde attempted to hit Hudson up the seam for a big play, but his pass was intercepted. The Cowboys were able to march down the field off the turnover to get them in field goal range to give them the 9-7 lead.

That’s how things went to the half.

On the Bucs first offensive possession, they took the ball 39-yards in eight plays to get them in range of a long, 53-yard field goal off the foot of Matt Gay. That brought the scoreboard to 10-9 in favor of Tampa Bay.

The Bucs held the Cowboys offense to just three plays on their next drive, and in return continued their offensive momentum with a 62-yard, 8-play drive that ended in a Bruce Anderson rushing touchdown. That drive, which gave the Bucs a 17-9 lead, was one of the best drives of the preseason from the backup offensive linemen.

The next two Dallas drives would be long, but yield no points. The first went 60 yards in 11 plays, but a forced fumble gave it right back to Tampa Bay. On the following drive, they went 24 yards in 10 plays, however, that ended in a turnover on downs after a big stop from the Bucs third string defense.

But where there is smoke there is often fire. The Cowboys offense, despite not getting points on their previous two drives, did establish momentum, and in their following drive, went 75 yards in just three plays thanks to a 69-yard touchdown run and catch by Dallas receiver Jalen Guyton — aids by a handful of missed tackles by Tampa.

That brought the score to 17-15. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett attempted a 2-point conversion to tie the game, but it failed and the score remained in favor of the Buccaneers.

After that, the Bucs were just a few first downs away from victory. Running back Bruce Anderson led them to one first down, but ultimately Dallas held the Bucs to punt with just under a minute to go.

Dallas drove the ball up to mid-field with under 20 seconds to go and no time outs. They completed a short pass to the sideline, but that brought the clock to 13 seconds just across the 50-yard line. The Cowboys attempted another pass, knowing they were still out of field goal range, but it was incomplete and the clock showed just four seconds.

That meant it was Hail Mary time.

It was deep, it was true, and it was intercepted by the Buccaneers for the 17-15 victory.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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1 year ago

I watched the game on line and it was much better than I thought it would be. I just wish I did not have to listen to the Cowboy broadcast. Michael Irvin would not shut up. He did not allow the other people to speak and they focused on him instead of the game. I am happy the Buc won.

1 year ago

A win is a win! I’ll say it again, we’ve seen the Bucs lose this game before. If we just win the close ones this year, I think that good for 3-4 wins! I think RB Bruce Anderson should make the squad over Ellington. More upside, younger, cheaper. I thought Vincent managed the 2nd half pretty good. Should get him on the practice squad. TE Hudson makes the team as 4th TE. Going to be interesting to watch final cuts and any waiver wire pick ups. Go Bucs!

Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

Hey PR staff. What is the story with Spence and Barrett out there in the 4th game? What is the scoop?

Onto the game thoughts: Defensive cuts are going to be tough for Bowles and Arians. Not sure if the Bucs can sneak Bruce Anderson to the PS. And special teams returner and punter may be on another NFL team right now. Who knows!

1 year ago

Um, I think someone needs to apologize. Saying basically “ This game will be unwatchable and painful to watch but us here at PR, well we have to. Check back here for updates” LOL, it’s all good. I watched the game and obviously not to Bad. I think we have the answer to the kicking woes with Gay. He’s been solid!!

1 year ago

When the second round of the draft starts next year would someone please lock Jason Licht in the closet. What the hell did he see in Bunting?

Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

I wouldn’t be surprised if Vinny Jr earns a PS spot. Vinny hit on most of his throws underneath but needs to work on making reads downfield.

Buc stops here
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

He will possibly make it until Gabbert comes back, then he will be cut. In a postive, Arians loves the performance of Griffin and he has earned another season in Tampa under a new coaching regime as a backup QB. In game one, Griffin is the direct backup to Winston.

1 year ago

Once again, the biggest takeaway is…

WE HAVE A KICKER! The curse is finally broken! *knock on wood*

1 year ago

I always enjoy the 4th preseason game because it gives us a chance to get an extended look at the depth of the team. Since I tend to focus on the individual player in all of the preseason games and Training Camp practice sessions I attend, there were a few who caught my attention more often than others. Some more in practice than the games. Some more in the games than at practice. In the end, only the evaluations of Jason and B.A. will matter. Glad no one got hurt in this exhibition. I really like the concept of the… Read more »

1 year ago

I started out watching US Open tennis, then on the break looked in to see what the Bucs were doing and never switched back. To my surprise, I enjoyed this game. Go Bucs!

Captain Sly
1 year ago

Trevor, I read your Cover 3 where you predicted RB Ellington making this team and after watching his body of work this preseason coupled with the performance of this rookie Bruce Anderson, I think Ellington is the odd man out. He just haven’t impressed me at all and when you are playing this late in the 4th preseason game and still not shining I can’t see how you make on to this roster. If I were BA and this coaching staff I would want to take another look at this rookie Bruce Anderson.

1 year ago

That was better than expected. Little sloppy by both teams with turn overs but fun anyways.

I agree if they keep 4 RBs which they likely will, I would take Anderson over Ellington. Ellington just looks slow to me and not any burst at all.

1 year ago

Testaverde trying to throw into triple coverage and intercepted, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It seemed like old times.
Despite that, I was glad to see the young man recover and put together a decent performance which will probably be his last game in the NFL