In a thrilling way to kick off the NFL season, the Bucs and Cowboys went back-and-forth in a high-scoring affair. This one went down to the last second, as the Bucs won 31-29. The game had a dramatic ending with Ryan Succop’s game-winning 36-yard field goal, but the contest was quite sloppy as well. The Bucs made numerous mistakes, turning the ball over four times. The victory was fun, but there’s a lot to clean up before next Sunday’s game.
Here’s who was most disappointing from Week 1:
CB Jamel Dean
Table of Contents
Dean couldn’t step up after Sean Murphy-Bunting left the game with an elbow injury. He was torched plenty of times when in single coverage, particularly by Michael Gallup. One of the times that Dean was responsible for guarding Amari Cooper, he was beaten in the end zone for a Dallas touchdown.
It wasn’t just that he was losing in coverage either. Dean was penalized three times in the first half as well. One was for a pass interference, and the other two occurred on the same play when Dean was flagged for interference and a facemask. In the game’s most crucial moments late in the fourth quarter, Dallas picked on Dean again, who couldn’t corral CeeDee Lamb on a short catch. The Cowboys receiver sprinted down the field to get in range to kick the go-ahead field goal.
Dean finished the night with nine tackles and a pass breakup.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
I hate to put him on this list after he suffered a bad injury, but it wasn’t pretty when Murphy-Bunting was in the game. He was beaten by CeeDee Lamb for the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the game. Overall, the entire secondary really struggled against a top tier receiver group in Dallas. Hopefully Murphy-Bunting will be healthy enough to return this season.
RB Ronald Jones II
Right after the Bucs got a swing of momentum after a missed field goal, Jones gave it right back to the Cowboys, fumbling on the next play. With a short field, the Cowboys scored a touchdown and remained in the game. We didn’t see Jones again, as Bruce Arians sent a clear message that he won’t settle for those mistakes this year. Jones had just four touches in the game.
RB Leonard Fournette
If Jones’ fumble was bad, Fournette’s drop that lead to an interception for Tom Brady was even worse. The screen pass was perfectly placed for Fournette, who had a caravan of offensive linemen in front of him. Somehow the ball bobbled off of Fournette’s hands and went for an interception for the Cowboys, giving them their second turnover in as many plays. While Fournette picked up the slack later in the game, drops like that one continually derail the Bucs offense. He finished the game with nine rushes for 32 yards and five catches for 27.
WR Chris Godwin
Tampa Bay had four turnovers in the game to just one by Dallas, though technically one came on a Hail Mary. It’s long been stated that the Bucs can win any game if they don’t beat themselves, and they almost gave this one away. The other turnovers were already mentioned, but as good as Chris Godwin was, his fumble at the end of the game was egregious. You have to know the situation and hold onto the ball there. It looked as if Godwin saw the defender coming, which makes it even worse. Godwin also dropped two other balls on the night, including a gorgeous deep ball from Brady that would have put the Bucs inside the Cowboys five yard line.
The Bucs didn’t do themselves any favors when it came to the referees. Tampa Bay was penalized 11 times for 106 yards. They literally went a football field’s length with mistakes. To make matters worse, they allowed five first downs via penalties to Dallas, to only one for the Bucs. By no means are the Bucs an undisciplined team, but we’ve seen in the past how committing too many penalties can cost them a game or two.