The wild-cart stage of the NFL playoffs ended on Monday with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys dominating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a 31-14 victory.
Prescott had the best playoff performance of his career to get the win. He threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another as he threw for 305 yards in the win.
Meanwhile, Brady and the Buccaneers offense struggled to get going all night. They were out until late in the third quarter as Brady completed 35-of-66 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns, but had a costly interception in the end zone in the first half.
The Cowboys will play the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional opener (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
Here are the best plays.
Dallas Cowboys 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
Big boy bag
Vita Vea brought the thunder in the third, sacking Prescott, forcing the Cowboys to go three-and-out for the second straight drive to open the game.
Cowboys punt first
After both teams went three-and-out on their first two possessions, Dallas finally got the ball moving on its third drive. Some plays by Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard, along with a roughing the passer penalty, set up Prescott’s 22-yard TD pass to Dalton Schultz.
The ensuing PAT went wide right, though, keeping Dallas up 6-0 in the first.
Rachaad White made multiple jump cuts to help the Bucs finally get a first down on their third drive.
The 45-year-old QB made a play reminiscent of the Kansas City Chiefs star, connecting with running back Chris Godwin on a touchdown pass for an 11-yard gain.
Minutes after the broadcast, a graphic was shown showing that Brady had not thrown an interception in the red zone since joining the Buccaneers in 2020. Brady picked off Jaron Kearse in the end zone as he appeared to try to throw the ball out of bounds.
On fourth-and-1-yard line, Prescott kept the ball to himself on a fake pass and fumbled into the end zone for the score.
However, Brett Maher missed the PAT again, keeping the Cowboys up 12-0 with just over six minutes left in the second quarter.
Dak puts it all in third place
Needing six yards for a first down, Prescott scrambled and ran for a 10-yard gain to get the Cowboys’ final drive of the first half going.
Dak to Dalton for Dallas’ 3rd TD
With the Cowboys in control the entire first half, Prescott again found Schultz in the end zone for an 11-yard score.
The only thing they didn’t control was their kicking game. Maher missed the third PAT to keep the Cowboys up 18-0 just before halftime.
The Cowboys scored again, marking four straight drives with a touchdown as they scored on their first possession of the second half. Prescott found Gallup in the back of the end zone for his third touchdown of the game. Gallup appeared to be close to overshooting his reception, but a replay review confirmed his catch.
However, Maher missed his fourth PAT of the night, keeping it within three points at 24-0 with roughly 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bucks finally scored
In what could be the last NFL play for both players, Brady found Julio Jones along the sideline for a touchdown to finally get the Buccaneers on the board. Tampa failed to convert the 2-point conversion, but held on for a three-pointer late in the third quarter to make it 24-6.
Dallas is on fourth down…and scoring goals
With Maher struggling to make his PATs, the Cowboys opted to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Buccaneers’ 18-yard line. The decision paid off and then some as Prescott found CeeDee Lamb open for the score.
Oh, and Maher made the PAT this time to make it a 31-6 game.
Bucs get a late score
Looking to keep it respectable, Brady found Cam Brate for a toe kick just before the two-minute warning. He also connected with Mike Evans for the 2-point conversion that made it 31-14.
Bucs onside kick
It might be too little, too late for Tampa, but they recovered a shot just after the two-minute warning. It’s just the fourth time the team has recovered a fumble this season.
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