The first game is in the books. It was an ugly battle but it resulted in a Buccaneers win. The Buccaneers have now won nine in a row going back to last season including the playoffs. With the first week over for Tampa Bay here are three key stats from the game.
Turnover Differential (-3)
Not an individual statistic but more an overall big picture one. Turnover Differential is calculated by subtracting the total number turnovers given away from the total number of takeaways. Teams with a negative turnover differential lose games at a very high rate. The Buccaneers gave the ball away four times Thursday. Unfortunately, they only had one takeaway. For the Buccaneers to squeak by was nothing short of a miracle.
The biggest swing in momentum came after a missed field goal by the Cowboys at the Tampa Bay 13 yard line. The ensuing play after the turn over on downs was a Ronald Jones II fumble. The turn over gave the Cowboys the ball the Tampa 27. Five plays later the Cowboys had a touchdown. With a missed extra point the Cowboys were within one. After the follow on kickoff the Buccaneers rolled Leonard Fournette out for a screen pass. Unfortunately, the ball came out of Fournette’s hands, off his helmet, and into a defenders hands. This added another field goal for the Cowboys.
These plays all happened in a three minute and 20 second time frame. This short amount of time and two back to back giveaways by the Buccaneers shifted the momentum and placed the pressure on the defending champions. In order to win close games the Buccaneers will need to change the differential in their favor.
Catches, Yards, Touchdowns (14/226/2)
The Buccaneers wide receivers have been touted as one of the best groups in the NFL. Starting off the season two of the big three came in clutch. Antonio Brown hauled in five of seven targets for 121 yards and a spectacular touchdown. He showed the separation and poise that made him a star to begin with. Flashing his signature million dollar smile Brown paved the way to keep the Buccaneers in this game.
Chris Godwin too, came in clutch. On the last drive of the game Godwin overcame some previous drops to haul in and stumble for an 18 yard gain. One that put the Buccaneers in field goal range to win the game. His final stat line was nine catches on 14 targets for 105 yards and the opening touchdown.
The pair, though listed earlier this week on the injury report, excelled.
As Tom Brady said during his post-game interview, “there are a lot of things to clean up”. The Buccaneers amassed 11 penalties for 106 yards. Giving away five first downs to the Cowboys offense. Ultimately, this kept the momentum going at times and was clearly hampering the team’s ability to flip the momentum of the game. The good news is this is only week one and it was a Thursday game. Before week two against the Falcons this team has a chance to correct themselves. Limiting penalties, much like limiting turnovers, will empower this team to new heights.
Given the result the Buccaneers escaped a potential upset. They clearly have some rust to knock off on defense and the running backs corps needs to focus. With what we saw the Cowboys deliver this week there could very well be a rematch in the post season. That game could have a different ending. For now Buccaneer fans celebrate. The Buccaneers are 1-0!