TAMPA, Fla. — The Dallas Cowboys lastly discovered Tom Brady.
After seven consecutive losses towards Brady relationship to 2003, the Cowboys demolished the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their future Corridor of Fame quarterback, 31-14, whereas dominating practically each section of their wild-card matchup Monday night time.
The Cowboys will face the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday within the divisional spherical, whereas Brady will ponder his future as a 45-year-old free agent after enduring the one of many worst playoff defeats of his 23-year profession.
For all their bombast and hype, the Cowboys have been dismal within the playoffs for the previous quarter century, successful solely three video games and failing to advance previous the divisional spherical. However Monday’s sport was lopsided from the beginning as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott accomplished passes to an array of receivers, and working again Tony Pollard sliced by means of Tampa Bay’s protection for 77 yards on 15 carries.
Prescott completed with 5 complete touchdowns, and handed for 305 yards. Beforehand, he had received just one playoff sport in seven seasons in Dallas, however on Monday he appeared decided to conquer his postseason demons. Within the first half, he dove for one first down and scored on a nifty bootleg for the Cowboys’ second rating.
That run was bracketed by two landing passes to tight finish Dalton Schultz within the first half, when the Cowboys took an 18-0 lead at Raymond James Stadium. About the one offensive breaks the Buccaneers mustered within the first half got here from Brett Maher, the Cowboys kicker, who missed all three extra-point makes an attempt, an N.F.L. playoff file. (He later missed a fourth try within the second half, setting a brand new league file.)
The final time Brady was shut out within the first half of a playoff sport was his first postseason look, with the Patriots in 2002. The Patriots rallied that day to beat the Raiders in extra time, 16-13.
There was no comeback on Monday. The Buccaneers by no means established their working sport, forcing Brady to throw 23 instances within the first half alone. A number of of his passes have been batted away and at one level he threw to tight finish Cameron Brate, who was quadruple-covered ultimately zone, within the first quarter.
Brady additionally overthrew a number of passes, together with one which was intercepted by security Jayron Kearse behind the Dallas finish zone initially of the second quarter.
Within the third quarter, after the Cowboys accomplished an eight-play, 86-yard drive that ended when Prescott discovered Michael Gallup ultimately zone for a landing, Brady tried to tug the Buccaneers out of a 24-point gap.
Catastrophe appeared to strike once more when receiver Chris Godwin fumbled after a reception on third-and-9 from the Tampa Bay 20-yard line. On the finish of the play, Brady appeared to attempt to journey Cowboys security Malik Hooker, who had recovered the ball.
The fumble was overturned after a evaluate, however Brady couldn’t capitalize. He sailed a third-down move into empty house to finish the fruitless drive, and a smattering of boos rose from the stressed house crowd.
Brady lastly appeared just like the Brady of outdated on the finish of the third quarter, when he hit receiver Julio Jones working full stride down the left sideline for a 30-yard rating. The Buccaneers went for the 2-point conversion, however Brady badly missed Godwin ultimately zone.
Dallas shortly responded, marching down the sphere with ease. On fourth-and-4, Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy, maybe attempting to spare Maher one other embarrassment, opted to not kick a discipline purpose. Prescott discovered receiver CeeDee Lamb extensive open for an 18-yard landing rating. Maher finally transformed the additional level try and push Dallas’s result in 31-6.
In his greater than twenty years within the N.F.L., Brady has led 9 fourth-quarter comebacks. However Tampa Bay fell too far behind for Brady to engineer a tenth.
The sport got here to a somber cease with below three minutes remaining when Tampa Bay receiver Russell Gage lay on the sphere after successful that appeared to jolt his neck. Gamers from each groups knelt as medical personnel attended to Gage in a second eerily paying homage to the collapse of Payments security Damar Hamlin earlier this month. Gage was carted off to a hospital with a concussion and a attainable neck damage, however was transferring his fingers, Buccaneers Coach Todd Bowles mentioned.
When the sport resumed, Brady completed the drive with an 8-yard landing move to Cameron Brate and transformed a 2-point try and carry the rating to 31-14. The Buccaneers recovered an onside kick close to midfield, however the late rally fell quick.
Brady completed with 35 of 66 passing for 351 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
If this was Brady’s final sport, it was actually an anomaly. He owns practically each main N.F.L. passing file, together with yards and touchdowns. This yr, he set private bests for completions and move makes an attempt as he threw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Brady’s dad and mom got here off the sphere arm-in-arm after the sport, and his mom, Galynn, had tears in her eyes. Brady declined to reply questions final week about reviews suggesting that he may try so as to add to his profession totals by becoming a member of a brand new staff subsequent season. On Monday, Brady supplied little perception on his future.
“I’m going to go house and get a great night time’s sleep,” he mentioned when requested about his plans for subsequent yr.
However on the finish of his four-minute information convention, he thanked the media, together with the Tampa Bay beat writers, in addition to the Buccaneers group, seeming to shut his time with the franchise.
Information reviews have instructed that Brady is enthusiastic about enjoying in South Florida so he might be near his youngsters. Final yr, the N.F.L. discovered that the Dolphins had “impermissible” talks with Brady whereas he was below contract with the Patriots and Buccaneers.
Dolphins Normal Supervisor Chris Grier mentioned Monday that the staff helps their present quarterback, Tua Tagavailoa, a former first-round draft choose who missed 5 video games this season due to concussions.
The Las Vegas Raiders have been reported as one other potential vacation spot for Brady. He has an extended historical past with Raiders Coach Josh McDaniels, who was his offensive coordinator in New England for 13 seasons.
With seven Tremendous Bowl titles, three M.V.P. awards and practically 300 wins, Brady is unlikely to be completely happy leaving the sphere after such a drubbing towards the Cowboys. The place, and if, he tries to erase the reminiscence is but to be decided.
“You all the time wish to finish yearly nice, however sadly sports activities doesn’t work that manner,” Brady mentioned.