TAMPA, Fla. – The Buccaneers and Cowboys are no strangers to each other. After all, they have met each of the past two seasons.
It has been four decades, however, since the teams last met in the playoffs. Both previous postseason meetings between Tampa Bay and Dallas were in consecutive years following the 1981 and 1982 seasons at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys won both games.
In a wild card matchup that followed a strike-shortened 1982 regular season, the Bucs were held to eight first downs and 218 yards in a 30-17 loss. They took a 17-16 lead into the fourth quarter after Doug Williams and Gordon Jones, who broke free of corner Rod Hill’s grasp, connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
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In the fourth quarter, safety Monty Hunter picked Williams and went 19 yards to paydirt to give the Cowboys the lead for good.
A year earlier, in a divisional-round matchup, it was all Cowboys: 38-0. Williams threw four interceptions (two by corner Dennis Thurman) and was sacked four times. Led by Tony Dorsett’s 86 yards, Dallas piled up 212 yards on the ground with four different running backs reaching the end zone.
Next Monday night’s encounter (8:15 p.m. ESPN/ABC) at Raymond James Stadium will mark Tom Brady’s first playoff game against the Cowboys. He is 7-0 against Dallas in the regular season, including two wins with the Bucs.
In this year’s season opener in Arlington, Ryan Succop drilled four field goals, and Brady connected with Mike Evans on a five-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to cap the scoring in a 19-3 win. It was the only time this season the Bucs held an opponent to single digits. In doing so, they limited the Cowboys to 12 first downs and 244 yards. Brady threw for 212 yards, one interception, and was sacked twice, both courtesy of Micah Parsons.
Dak Prescott completed only 14 of 29 passes for 134 yards, one interception, and was sacked twice. His 47.3 rating was his lowest this season until Week 18 (45.8) against Washington.
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Tampa Bay and Dallas opened the 2021 NFL season on a Thursday night at Raymond James. Succop’s 36-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the game gave the Bucs a 31-29 win. Brady threw four touchdown passes – two to Rob Gronkowski — and two interceptions. The Bucs prevailed despite four turnovers.
Prescott will be the 35th quarterback Brady will oppose in the playoffs. The Free Press-Tampa ran a piece last year on the quarterback’s opposite numbers in his playoff career.