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Monday, February 26, 2024

NFL Wild Card Takeaways: Prescott erases doubts, Cowboys shut down Brady’s Buccaneers


After back-to-back days of frenzied finishes on the soccer area, the stage was set for a comeback on Monday evening. 

Following Jacksonville’s surge again from 27-0 Saturday towards the Chargers, and Miami’s full-court press in Buffalo a day later, it was solely pure to suppose that after Dallas upped the rating to 24-0 within the third quarter on the third day of a very wild Tremendous Wild Card Weekend, we is likely to be in for one of the best comeback of all in Tampa Bay.

It’s Tom Brady, in spite of everything, and if there’s one factor we’ve realized over the course of his profession, it’s you can by no means rely out the GOAT.

And but, in Monday evening’s Wild Card matchup towards Dallas, with a Divisional Spherical date in San Francisco on the road, the comeback by no means got here. 

Regardless of a gradual begin offensively, Dallas was dominant. Any questions on Dak Prescott’s means to propel the Cowboys to their first playoff street win have been shortly erased, whereas Dallas’ defence was stifling from kickoff till the ultimate down of the Cowboys’ spectacular 31-14 victory. 

The one actual glimmer of hope for the house staff got here on the finish of the third quarter when Brady related with Julio Jones on a 30-yard landing cross to lastly get the Buccaneers on the board. If that created any spark in any respect, although, it was in a short time extinguished by a failed two-point conversion and fifth landing for Dallas quickly after on a big-time busted protection that noticed CeeDee Lamb as extensive open as you may get. A second landing cross for Brady – an eight-yard toss to Cameron Brate with simply over two minutes left within the sport – was adopted by a profitable onside kick restoration and a smattering of what ifs and maybes… 

However a Monday evening miracle was to not be. Not for these Buccaneers, a staff that’s seemed each a part of its sub-.500 document all season, a staff that by no means actually roused a lot offensive success regardless of the presence of TB12 beneath heart. And a staff that now faces loads of query marks after its season was minimize quick. 

The Cowboys, in the meantime, answered numerous questions with Monday’s decisive victory – their most convincing win of the 12 months, and their first street playoff W since Jan. 17, 1993, once they topped the 49ers en path to successful Tremendous Bowl XXVII. 

It’s solely becoming that Monday’s efficiency earns them a visit again to the Bay Space to tackle the NFC’s second-seed within the 49ers. 

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Dak’s again, and he placed on his finest displaying but

Regardless of registering 4 extra common season wins than their 8-9 Wild Card Weekend hosts, the 12-5 Cowboys have been no positive factor heading into this matchup. The numbers didn’t precisely favour Dallas, whose 2022 marketing campaign started with a nightmarish outing at residence towards the Buccaneers – a 19-3 loss that noticed Prescott exit with a thumb harm. Brady’s good document (he was 7-0 towards Dallas all-time heading into Monday’s matchup) in addition to Dallas’ 0-8 post-season street document since ’93 solely added to the doubts. 

After which there have been Prescott’s performances of late. The 29-year-old entered Monday’s contest using a streak of seven straight video games with a minimum of one interception, a stretch through which he threw 11 picks. Regardless of beginning simply 12 video games this season, he led the league in INTs with 15. 

Prescott snapped that streak when it mattered most on Monday, and put collectively a ultimate stat line that wasn’t simply adequate for the win – it was traditionally good. 

The QB accomplished 25 of his 33 cross makes an attempt for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns and no interceptions, registering a 75.8 completion proportion whereas additionally working in one other rating of his personal. Prescott, who now has a playoff document of 2-2, additionally wrote his identify into Dallas’ document books as the primary QB in staff historical past to tally 5 touchdowns in a single playoff sport. 

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Dan Quinn’s defence as dominant because it will get, blanks Brady in first half

Nowadays, it looks like Brady is marking a brand new milestone each time he hits the sector. That was the case Monday evening, although you gained’t discover TB12 celebrating these ones. Brady was held scoreless within the first half towards the Cowboys, marking the primary time he’s been shut out within the first half of a playoff sport since his very first post-season look means again in January 2002 – the Divisional Spherical matchup towards the Oakland Raiders often known as the “Tuck Rule Recreation.”

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Cowboys security Jayron Kearse definitely did his half to earn the shutout, choosing off Brady within the purple zone and delivering one other milestone second the GOAT wish to quickly overlook:

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Brady managed simply 96 passing yards within the first half, finishing 11 of his 23 makes an attempt.

Whereas Brady did handle to lastly get the Buccaneers on the board on the finish of the third quarter, the Cowboys’ onslaught by no means eased up, their protection relentless. Brady accomplished 35 of his 66 passes for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and will by no means get right into a rhythm along with his weapons – an issue that’s continued all season, regardless of Brady placing up actually robust passing numbers in 2022.  

Quinn’s defence, which has been heralded all season as one of many league’s prime items, has earned him loads of discover. The previous Atlanta Falcons head coach – who, sure, was teaching when Brady’s Patriots stormed again from 28-3 in Tremendous Bowl LI – has helmed Dallas’ D the previous few seasons and is already thought of considered one of this low season’s most notable candidates for one of many 5 head teaching jobs presently open. 

Maher misses the mark… once more, and once more, and once more (…and once more)

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Monday was a terrific evening to be a Cowboy… and a horrible evening to be their kicker. 

The truth is, Cowboys place-kicker Brett Maher offered the lone flaw in what was an in any other case excellent sport from all angles. Maher, who’s been a dependable kicker all season, began Monday’s sport with three missed extra-point makes an attempt within the first half, his first two crusing extensive proper and his third too far to the left. He then opened the second half with one other miss – his fourth of the sport! – after Dallas’ fourth landing. Together with the missed further level on the Cowboys’ lone landing of their regular-season finale towards Washington, Maher had missed 5 consecutive further level makes an attempt. After lacking simply three extra-point makes an attempt all season, he set a brand new league document for many misses in a single playoff sport. 

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The fifth try, because it turned out, was the appeal on Monday evening. Maher kicked it by the uprights for what was perhaps… simply perhaps… the most important win of the evening. 

What’s subsequent for Tom Brady?

This season, his 22nd, introduced Brady his 14th straight playoff berth and 20th general, regardless of ending the 12 months with a sub-.500 document for the primary time in his profession. In 48 post-season video games (he’s missed the dance simply twice in his profession) Brady has recorded extra playoff wins (35) than another NFLer has appearances. Together with his document now 35-13, his place in NFL lore long-ago solidified, the query now turns into: What’s subsequent?

Brady is slated to be a free agent, and after retiring and un-retiring final low season has mentioned that after he decides his destiny this 12 months, his determination shall be ultimate. He’ll take his time, as he ought to. 

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If that is the top for Brady, it gained’t be the storybook ending many people needed to jot down. However when your soccer life spans as many chapters as Brady’s has, and consists of as many victories and data and rings and game-changing moments as his, he’ll all the time exit on prime.

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