Saturday, April 13

Live updates: Bucs 19, Cowboys 3 (fourth quarter)


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Tom Brady threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans, and Ryan Succop kicked four field goals as the Bucs lead the Cowboys 19-3 in the fourth quarter of their regular-season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Succop converted from 44, 38, 29 and 47 yards in the first half. He missed from 36.

Earlier, the Cowboys’ Brett Maher was accurate from 51 yards, giving Dallas a brief 3-0 lead.

Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin caught three passes for 35 yards before leaving with a hamstring injury late in the first half.

Tackle Donovan Smith hurt his right elbow in the second quarter and was replaced by Josh Wells.

Follow our live updates throughout the game:

Stop-and-go

Bucs linebacker Devin White (45) celebrates after sacking Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) as guard Zack Martin (70) walks past in the second half.
Bucs linebacker Devin White (45) celebrates after sacking Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) as guard Zack Martin (70) walks past in the second half. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

Leading by 16 early in the fourth quarter, a Bucs defense that has been dominant throughout the game forced a turnover on downs.

The Cowboys drove to the Tampa Bay 41-yard line, where it faced fourth-and 2. But inside linebacker Devin White broke up Dak Prescott’s pass for Dennis Houston, narrowly missing an interception and giving the Bucs possession.

However, Tampa Bay gave the ball right back three plays later, as Tom Brady was intercepted by Donovan Wilson at the Dallas 48.

Again, the Bucs’ defense held, forcing the Cowboys into a three-and-out.

Leaning on Lenny

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) stops Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) after a first-half gain.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) stops Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) after a first-half gain. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

The Bucs continued to feed Leonard Fournette on an early third-quarter drive, and he rewarded them with runs of 11, 9 and 17 yards to move the ball to the Cowboys 42.

Tampa Bay advanced to the 25 on Tom Brady passes of 7 yards to Rachaad White and 10 to Mike Evans before going back to Fournette for 3 more yards.

With Dallas in man-to-man coverage, Brady found Evans on a slant pass for 17 yards to the 5. He again went to Evans on the next play, and the receiver made a one-handed catch while falling on his back.

The Bucs’ first touchdown of the season extended their lead to 19-3 with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter.

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Fournette surpassed 100 rushing yards for the game on the drive. He now has 112 on 19 carries, a 5.9-yard average. He also has two receptions for 10 yards.

Extended stay

Bucs punter Jake Camarda (5) and kicker Ryan Succop (3) celebrate one of Succop' four first-half field goals.
Bucs punter Jake Camarda (5) and kicker Ryan Succop (3) celebrate one of Succop’ four first-half field goals. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

Jake Camarda’s first NFL punt, early in the second half, was an eventful one.

His kick hit the scoreboard, resulting in the down being replayed.

The Cowboy’s Tarell Basham ran into Camarda on his second kick, drawing a five-yard penalty.

But Tampa Bay was still short of a first down, so Camarda stayed on the field to kick for a third time. His 63-yard punt went into the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

Two-minute drill

Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (6) catches a long pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) defends late in the first half.
Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (6) catches a long pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) defends late in the first half. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

The Bucs quickly moved the ball downfield in the final two minutes of the first half, but two receivers left the field during the drive.

Chris Godwin limped off after a 5-yard reception at the start of the drive, and Julio Jones got up slowly and went to the sideline following a 48-yard reception to the Cowboys 29. (Jones returned to the game.)

Tom Brady twice looked for Breshad Perriman downfield afterward, including a throw into the end zone, but both were incomplete.

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The Bucs still came away with points, however, as Ryan Succop kicked his fourth field goal of the half. Succop’s 47-yard kick extended Tampa Bay’s lead to 12-3 with 14 seconds left in the half.

Pic(k)ture perfect

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) is stopped after a short gain by Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) in the second half.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) is stopped after a short gain by Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) in the second half. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

The Bucs defense forced its first turnover of the season late in the first half, as Antoine Winfield intercepted a Dak Prescott pass intended for Noah Brown and returned the ball 15 yards to the Dallas 23.

Julio Jones quickly moved the ball to the 11 with a 12-yard run around right end. Tampa Bay stayed on the ground, as Leonard Fournette gained 7 more yards on two carries.

On third-and-3 from the 5, Parsons sacked Tom Brady from the blind side, the second straight possession on which a Parsons third-down sack forced a field-goal attempt.

Ryan Succop, who missed from 36 yards on the previous drive, was good from 29, extending the Bucs’ lead to 9-3 with 3:25 to play in the half.

Grinding it out

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) celebrates after helping stop Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) on a first-half carry.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) celebrates after helping stop Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) on a first-half carry. [ RON JENKINS | AP ]

The Bucs kept the ball on the ground for much of their third drive. Leonard Fournette carried twice for 9 yards before Julio Jones 5 picked up a first down with a 5-yard run around right end.

After a 3-yard Fournette run, Brady connected with Jones for 13 yards and a first down at the Dallas 32.

A 9-yard Brady pass to Fournette set up third-and-2 from the 24, and Fournette picked up 10 yards around left end to set up the Bucs at the 13.

Rachaad White’s first NFL carry lost a yard before Brady found Chris Godwin for 6 yards, making it third-and 5 from the 8. But Micah Parsons sacked Brady, pushing the Bucs back to the 18.

Tampa Bay tackle Donovan Smith, who was beat on the play, stayed down on the field afterward. Trainers seemed to be looking at his right arm before he left for the locker room.

Ultimately, the drive went for naught, as Ryan Succop missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.

Moving in front

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the game.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the game. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

After the Bucs forced a punt, Brady was back at it on the Bucs’ second possession, hitting Mike Evans for 19 yards to midfield. Following a 9-yard pass to Julio Jones, Leonard Fournette ran 17 yards over the left side to the Dallas 25.

But that was as far as the Bucs would get, as Brady’s pass for Jones on a slant pattern was incomplete.

Ryan Succop converted from 38 yards, giving Tampa Bay its first lead, 6-3, with just over a minute to play in the quarter.

Godwin involved early

Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) gains yardage after catching a pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) gives chase in the first quarter.
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) gains yardage after catching a pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) gives chase in the first quarter. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

Wide receiver Chris Godwin, who was a game-time decision, got involved immediately. He took a short Tom Brady pass 24 yards up the left sideline on the second play from scrimmage for a first down to the Bucs 44.

Tampa Bay was in Dallas territory two plays later, as Brady hit Mike Evans for 20 yards to the Cowboys 34.

But Leonard Fournette was dropped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 from the Dallas 25.

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Kicker Ryan Succop was good from 44 yards, tying the game at 3 with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Cowboys get a leg up

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass in the first quarter.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass in the first quarter. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

The Cowboys drove 54 yards on 13 plays on their opening possession, picking up four first downs along the way.

Ezekiel Elliott ran 7 yards to the Dallas 28, Dak Prescott threw a 16-yard pass to CeeDee Lamb to the 47, Ellliott ran 5 yards to the Tampa Bay 42 and Prescott found Noah Brown for 9 yards to the 31.

The Cowboys reached the Bucs 32 before a Prescott pass for tight end Dalton Schultz was incomplete. Dallas was forced to settle for a 51-yard Brett Maher field goal and early 3-0 lead.

Dallas guard Connor McGovern limped off the field during the drive and went to the locker room.

At last, the action is back on the field

Bucs kicker Ryan Succop (3) converts the winning field goal in the final seconds of Tampa Bay's 31-29 victory over Dallas in last season's opener.
Bucs kicker Ryan Succop (3) converts the winning field goal in the final seconds of Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over Dallas in last season’s opener. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Here we are again, right back where we started one year ago.

Bucs-Cowboys. Tom Brady vs. Dak Prescott. Two potential Super Bowl contenders meeting in a prime-time, nationally televised game to open the regular season.

Only, it wasn’t a straight line that brought us back here. The past year has been filled with a series of twists and turns, comings and goings, injuries and investigations.

Despite rallying from a 24-point, third-quarter deficit to tie the game, the Bucs fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in a division-round playoff game in January, dashing their hopes of repeating as champs. Instead of a three-peat, Tampa Bay now talks about its hunger to get back to the title game.

Nine days later, Brady announced his retirement, fueling speculation that many of the Bucs’ free agents would sign elsewhere, effectively ending Tampa Bay’s chances of contending for a championship. But 40 days after that, Brady reversed field, saying he had “unfinished business.” Center Ryan Jensen re-signed just hours later, and most of the Bucs’ free agents followed.

Near the end of February, Pro Bowler Ali Marpet announced his retirement at age 28 due to concerns about concussions and other health issues, leaving a hole at left guard. A month after that, head coach Bruce Arians retired to take a front-office role with the organization and was replaced by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Over the course of the offseason, the Bucs added impact players such as defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, guard Shaq Mason, defensive back Logan Ryan, receivers Russell Gage and Julio Jones, and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

In August, results of an NFL investigation into tampering by the Dolphins revealed that Brady had secret discussions with Miami in December about becoming a minority owner and possibly the team’s quarterback in 2022. Asked about it after Tampa Bay’s final preseason game, Brady reaffirmed his loyalty to the Bucs.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski played coy for much of the offseason before announcing his retirement in June. But neither his agent nor his longtime girlfriend seemed to be buying it, and you’d have to look long and hard to find someone who doesn’t think he will return at some point this season.

Training camp brought its own share of drama, as Jensen was carted off the field with a knee injury on the second day of workouts and later placed on injured reserve. Brady, meanwhile, spent 11 days away from the team for what were described as “personal reasons.”

Wide receiver Chris Godwin, who underwent surgery in January to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee, was signed to a three-year, $60 million contract. His recovery and rehab progressed more quickly than many expected, and he could be back on the field as soon as tonight.

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On the other side of the field, the Cowboys’ 2021 season ended in similarly disappointing fashion, albeit one round earlier than the Bucs’.

Fueled by a 6-1 start (the lone loss a 31-29 defeat to the Bucs in the opener), Dallas went 12-5 and finished atop the NFC East. However, the Cowboys’ season ended with a 23-17 loss to the 49ers in the wild-card round, a game that closed with an inexplicable quarterback draw call that essentially ended their hopes.

Prescott, whose 2020 season ended prematurely due to a gruesome ankle injury, experienced discomfort in the same ankle as recently as Thursday after switching to a different brand of cleats. But the Dallas quarterback said he will be ready to play against the Bucs.

Now, that’s all behind us, and we’ll find out beginning with tonight’s game whether the action on the field can match the intrigue that took place off of it over the previous several months.

Godwin available to play tonight

At minimum, expect Chris Godwin’s snap counts to be limited tonight against the Cowboys.
At minimum, expect Chris Godwin’s snap counts to be limited tonight against the Cowboys. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

It has been only eight months since Chris Godwin underwent surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee.

Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Friday that they consider the receiver a game-time decision.

Tonight, Godwin is not listed among the Bucs’ six inactive players for the season opener against the Cowboys, meaning he’ll be available.

Read Rick Stroud’s full story here.

Pregame scene

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A little light reading

Here’s some of our content leading up to today’s game:

Nearly 50 years later, Bucs fans finally get their golden age of offense

New blood from old players pumps life into Bucs

Bucs opt for committee of tight ends in post-’Gronk’ era

Julio Jones: ‘I feel amazing.’ That’s bad news for the NFL

Brady’s impact on Tampa Bay goes beyond touchdowns, trophies

Brady collected negative remarks to motivate Bucs’ offensive line

Is Tom Brady’s heart still in it? Go ahead, and keep asking

Ryan Succop still steady, and possibly stronger, entering 14th season

Robert Hainsey first worried about his ankle, too, but not anymore

A career framed by love for the Bucs’ Lavonte David

Beneath Bucs coach Todd Bowles’ calm is his storm

He’s got a ring, he’s got Brady, what more could Leftwich want?

NFC preview: Breaking down the Bucs’ neighborhood

AFC preview: Behind Josh Allen, Bills seek end to Super Bowl drought

Rams, Saints remain thorns in Tom Brady’s side entering 2022 season

• • •

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