The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in a game that was decided by two touchdowns. The win came at home, and Tom Brady led the offense to score 36 points while Rob Gronkowski scored three touchdowns for the Patriots.
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — In a thrilling 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Kickoff Game on Thursday night, the “Tommy and Gronky” show with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski picked up right where it left off, with two touchdowns, or “tuddies,” as they call them, matching their two “tuddies” from Super Bowl LV.
Brady’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski in the third quarter was the first time a quarterback and tight end had connected for 100 touchdowns, behind only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114) for the most touchdown hookups in NFL history.
Gronkowski remarked, “Tom made a fantastic call.” “I believe I was on a route when he checked me into blocking, then checking me into blocking and releasing. Oh wow, he just sees everything on the pitch, it’s incredible. He’s been playing for almost 80 years and has seen every defense and player there is.”
However, unlike in the Super Bowl, when the Buccaneers’ defense almost shut out Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buccaneers relied on Brady and Gronkowski to carry them. The 44-year-old passed for 379 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions in his 300th career game, with Gronkowski accounting for 90 receiving yards and Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin both surpassing 100 yards.
Brady also engineered an 11-play, 57-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to set up kicker Ryan Succop’s game-winning field goal from 36 yards out, marking Brady’s 40th fourth-quarter comeback.
“There was no question in my mind that we would win the game. Who is going to make plays with him?” Brady’s coach, Bruce Arians, stated. “Players up front did an outstanding job of defending, and guys ran out and got open.”
Succop, who was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list one week earlier, stated, “I was very confident we were going to have a shot.” “Obviously, he is the best quarterback in history, as well as the greatest athlete in history. He’s cool and collected. His composure, I believe, pervades the whole team, and everyone performs better as a result of him.”
The Buccaneers’ defense’s objective all week was to stop Ezekiel Elliott and make the Cowboys one-dimensional, so quarterback Dak Prescott could show off his talented wide outs Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper while passing for 403 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Prescott sliced through the Buccaneers defense, making several of their blitzes ineffective, despite the absence of Cowboys center Zack Martin due to COVID-19 and no preseason due to his rehabilitation from ankle and shoulder ailments.
To make things worse, the Buccaneers lost starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting to a dislocated elbow in the first quarter, and the Cowboys opted to target third cornerback Jamel Dean frequently. The Buccaneers were also missing starting strong safety Jordan Whitehead, who suffered a hamstring injury and was forced to leave the game.
Despite the game almost slipping away late in the fourth quarter when Godwin twisted his way into the end zone and coughed up the ball at the 2-yard line, they produced enough crucial plays. With 1:29 left in the game, Dallas put together a drive that culminated in a 48-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, giving the Cowboys a 29-28 lead.
With 24 seconds remaining, Godwin redeemed himself with a critical 24-yard sideline catch, setting up Succop’s goal. On the last drive, Gronkowski also had receptions of 6 and 20 yards.
“I learned a long time ago that losing doesn’t teach you anything more than nearly losing,” Arians remarked. “We have a lot of ground to cover. Obviously dissatisfied with the game’s start. The ending was fantastic. Our team is a winner. They’ll finish strong and win, but we can play better and avoid putting ourselves in that position. Obviously, there were turnovers, penalties, and other areas where we might improve, but our players battled hard and won the game.”
With the victory, the Super Bowl winners moved to 38-16-1 all-time in season openers.
The when did gronk retire is a question that has been floating around the internet for a while. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski carried the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
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