Tom Brady put together a vintage drive with under 2 minutes left in the game to set up kicker Ryan Succop for the game-winning field goal on Thursday night and give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a thriller.
Succop was given a chance to nail the 36-yard field goal and came through.
Brady had a couple of clutch passes to Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin to get into position to either attempt to score a touchdown or go for the game-winning kick. The team chose the latter and Succop game through and put the icing on a great start to the 2021 season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) after Gronkowski caught a 2-yard touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
The Cowboys briefly led the game before Brady’s drive. Greg Zuerlein kicked a 48-yard field goal to put them ahead 29-28 with under 2 minutes to go in the game.
Zuerlein struggled all game long, missing two field-goal attempts earlier in the game and another extra-point attempt after a touchdown. But when it mattered most, he put the Cowboys ahead.
The field-goal attempt was set up after a costly Buccaneers turnover. Godwin had caught a ball from Tom Brady and tried to force himself into the end zone and did a little too much. He fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Jourdan Lewis, and gave Dallas a shot to go ahead.
Brady finished the game 32-for-50 with 379 passing yards and four touchdown passes. He had two touchdown passes to Gronkowski and one each to Godwin and Antonio Brown.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) after Brown caught a touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Brown finished with five catches for 121 yards. Godwin had nine catches for 105 yards. Gronkowski finished with eight catches for 90 yards.
Leonard Fournette rushed for 32 yards on nine carries and had five catches for 27 yards.
One of the bigger stories was Dak Prescott’s performance.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
In his first game back from a gruesome ankle injury suffered in Week 5 of the 2020 season, he was 42-for-58 with 403 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He threw his first touchdown pass since Week 4 of the 2020 season – about 340 days went by between passes.
Dallas only rushed the ball 17 times and had 49 rushing yards. Ezekiel Elliott had 11 carries for 13 yards.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) hands off to running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Tampa Bay is on the right track in defending their Super Bowl title.