The Cowboys don’t know Brady and the Bucs don’t know

The Cowboys don’t know Brady and the Bucs don’t know

Impossible to say if it was the last match of Tom Brady’s career. The quarterback and his Buccaneers have been so dominated by the Cowboys at the top of their game that it’s almost unthinkable to imagine him sagging his shoulder pads after such a thaw.

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The Cowboys won 31-14 and that’s saying something, but the already wide 17-point gap doesn’t indicate how far the Bucs were out of the game.

Well, maybe in the first quarter, but the illusion was quickly shattered in a moment that changed everything.

Trailing 6-0, the Buccaneers moved deep into the Cowboys’ zone. Brady then made a terrible decision and his pass was intercepted by Jayron Kearse in the end zone.

It was Brady’s first victim of an interception in the payzone since playing for the Buccaneers. The Cowboys took advantage of that gift to score a touchdown. Quite a swing!

The Cowboys don't know Brady and the Bucs don't know

They repeated their next two sequences. The Bucs’ defense was literally trampled, allowing for touchdowns on three consecutive pushes for at least 80 yards.

Dak Prescott has been looking really good with 25 completions on 33 attempts, 305 yards and four touchdowns without a single interception. He added a touchdown. A great achievement that made its legendary counterpart look even worse.

Brady in tears

Those looking at the recap will note that Brady had 351 yards and two touchdowns. However, in this case the numbers are misleading.

The air attack only picked up late in the game when the Bucs scored a touchdown at the very end of the third quarter as well as late in the game. Touchdowns of no interest if the defense agrees to concede the short wins.

Otherwise, this Brady game was reminiscent of the end of another great, Dan Marino. On January 16, 2000, the legendary Dolphins quarterback was humiliated by the Jaguars 62-7 in the sad last game of his career.

The comparisons stop there as there’s no guarantee it will be the end for Brady, but every pass felt like a pain. Every inch of ground was gained by tearing. As always, communications between Brady and his recipients are flawed.

Brady will surely tell himself that he cannot end his career like this. Throughout the game, his offensive line was unabashedly dominated despite the return of center Ryan Jensen. Its recipients are unable to create separation. Every pass to Mike Evans is contested. Chris Godwin’s injury at the end of last season made him lose his explosiveness. The Julio Jones experiment is a resounding failure. If the offense shows a 66-pass, 12-run ratio, it’s because the ground game, like the rest of the season, isn’t delivering. The 66 attempted passes was also a record for Brady in the playoffs… as was his 31 incomplete passes. Like what the formula was lacking.

As a result, Brady lost in the first round of the playoffs for only the third time in his long career.

What future?

However, that shouldn’t be taken to mean that Brady should spread the blame all around himself without pointing the finger at himself. His surgical precision hasn’t been there often this season. As for passes in traffic, maybe his arm got hit by the Wall of Time after all.

Brady isn’t finished yet, and while he’s shown early signs of decline this year, he’ll likely want to try his luck again. He certainly didn’t accept that his marriage fell apart only to return for one season. At this point in his career he can still perform, but he will still need perfect alignment around him. He’s not sure if he wants to come back with the Buccaneers and that’s a good thing, he’s going to be a free agent.

Imagine the rumors that will surface over the next few months… Do the 49ers really have anything to gain by pursuing him? The most logical destination seems to be Las Vegas. This is pure speculation for the time being.

Brady ended his post-game press conference with his voice broken with emotion. He carefully thanked the Buccaneers organization and even the reporters for their coverage. That this time is really the end is anything but impossible. We’ll believe it when we see it…

A whole department!

Otherwise, what emerges from this duel between Cowboys and Buccaneers is that we relied too much on the end of the season when evaluating the two teams. The Cowboys were solid for most of the campaign, but looked bad towards the end. The Bucs, on the other hand, struggled all year before surviving with a few miracles from Brady at the end of the year. Appearances were deceptive at the end of the course.

The Bucs didn’t deserve to be part of the big dance with a division championship won by default.

It is the first time since 1997 that a division has sent three teams (Eagles, Cowboys and Giants) to the second round. And it should be noted that at that time the divisions had five teams. The NFC East regains its letters of peerage after years of misery.

The Cowboys have been on an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs. This dark phase began in January 1995 in San Francisco. That’s exactly where the Cowboys return on Sunday to continue their journey by rekindling an old rivalry from the 1990s.

THE STARS OF THE GAME

Dak Prescott

The Cowboys don't know Brady and the Bucs don't know

The Cowboys quarterback became the fourth in the Super Bowl era to win four touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in a playoff game, the others being Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

Micah Parsons

The Cowboys don't know Brady and the Bucs don't know

The linebacker went berserk and applied pressure nine times. He had a sack, two tackles for a loss and two knockdowns. Clearly one of his good career games. He was constantly disruptive.

Dalton Schulz

The Cowboys don't know Brady and the Bucs don't know

With seven receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns, the tight end was Dak Prescott’s top receiver. It’s his biggest mileage this season.