Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bucs O Shoots Blanks in Big D, Tampa Bay falls 13-9

By JC De La Torre

The Bucs rolled into Dallas to face Team Disarray but were sent home with an opportunity lost, falling in a frustrating 13-9 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bucs wasted yet another tremendous performance by the Buccaneers defense, where they held their opponent under 200 yds of total offense for the third straight game.

Bucs took the lead with two first quarter field goals by kicker Matt Bryant. It was an early indicator as the Bucs failed to score on promising drives and had to settle for three points. Dallas had one of their few drives of the day, cashing in with a Nick Folk field goal with 9:02 left in the first half. After a missed 51 yd field goal by Matt Bryant, Dallas got possession of the football in good field position, with under a minute left in the first half. On 3rd and long, Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber made a tackle that would have saved a first down and forced a punt, but the Zebras would give the Cowboys new life with a "horse collar" personal foul penalty on Barber. The same "horse collar" type tackle was performed by the Cowboys earlier in the game and occurred again in the 2nd half - but was not called. This penalty began a succession of 4 straight penalties against the Buccaneer defense that set the Cowboys 1st and goal at the 3 with 0:06 left in the half. Dallas QB Brad Johnson would connect with new Cowboys WR Roy Williams on a "jump ball" touchdown pass, and the Cowboys led 10-6 at the half.

At the start of the 2nd half, the newest Buccaneer, Returner Clifton Smith, would cough up the football on the opening return of the half, setting the Cowboys up 1st and 10 at the Bucs 48 (Dallas was penalized with a personal foul for a late hit that apparently happened during the scrum for the football). The Bucs D would stiffen and prevent any further damage. After an exchange of punts, the Cowboys managed to move in to Bucs territory and get another 45 yd field goal from their Pro Bowl kicker, Nick Folk, to extend the lead to 13-6.

In the fourth quarter, a beautiful 31 yd reception by Alex Smith set up a 41 yd Matt Bryant field goal to close the gap to within four. The Bucs would get a few more chances but failed, the last of which, a two minute drill where the Bucs would convert two fourth downs to get it to the Dallas 21 yd line but a final 4th and 5 pass from Garcia to Jeremy Stevens would go incomplete. Game over, Dallas wins. The Bucs outgained Dallas 262-172. Dallas superstar Terrell Owens was grumpy, held to 33 yds on 5 receptions. Dallas running back Marion Barber was held to a 2.8 average, rushing for 71 yds on 25 carriers. The Bucs weren't any better offensively. Earnest Graham was held in check, with only 42 yds on 17 carries. Antonio Bryant had 7 receptions for 46 yds and there was a Joey Galloway siting for the Bucs, as Galloway hauled in 3 catches for 38 yds.

With the 13-9 loss, the Buccaneers fall to 5-3, ending the second quarter stretch a disappointing 2-2, and tumble out of first place in the NFC South. Dallas, meanwhile, gets a big victory that helps stop the bleeding at least for one week. Next up for the Bucs, another struggling team on the road, the Kansas City Chiefs.

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