Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Cowboys

September 10th, 2021

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The perfect season’s still alive.

Yes, sarcasm is called for after Thursday night’s exceedingly ragged opener. A win is a win in the NFL, but that look on the face of Bruce Arians walking off the field was sheer relief rather than jubilation.

The defending champs nearly suffered an embarrassing setback to a huge underdog as the scrappy Cowboys came very close to spoiling Tampa Bay’s party before a packed stadium that included its fair share of Dallas fans.

Ryan Succop’s 36-yard FG with two seconds remaining pulled out a 31-29 triumph as the Bucs overcame four giveaways and 11 penalties. Chris Godwin opened and closed the game with key receptions, overcoming a late gaffe that could have proved decisive.

Give a game ball to punter Bradley Pinion and call this a wakeup call for players and coaches who may have been reading their own press clippings a bit too much since the confetti fell in February.

Here’s how the Bucs managed to get out of their own way long enough to earn a few days off:

* At the age of 44, Tom Brady schooled a young secondary, throwing for 379 yards and four TDs. His confidence in Rob Gronkowski, particularly near the goal-line, can’t be overstated and Gronk returned that faith with two scoring catches.

* Both clubs had more penalty yards than rushing yards as Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones were reduced to decoy status most of the night. Both Buc backs contributed to giveaways as the home team overcame a minus-3 turnover differential.

* In his first action since that gruesome ankle injury last October, Dak Prescott was poised and precise. For a while, I thought he might set the record for most completions allowed by a Buc opponent. Prescott finished with 42 completions, three less than Jared Goff’s effort during a Rams-Bucs shootout in 2019.

* Prescott was very sharp, but it helps when your targets are, in the former words of Arians, “wide-ass open.” Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb took turns torturing a Tampa Bay secondary that wilted after an early elbow injury to Sean Murphy-Bunting.

* Todd Bowles isn’t going to like the defensive tape — not after Dallas converted 9-of-17 on third down and rolled up 29 first downs. Unlike the Super Bowl rout of the Chiefs, Tampa Bay’s pass rushers were stymied by a Dallas front playing without All-Pro guard Zack Martin. The Buc defense was continually off balance, sacking Prescott only once in 58 pass attempts.

* Pinion began his outstanding night with a punt that spun out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Succop, who struggled throughout training camp, hit his game-winning kick with conviction. Jaydon Mickens did a nice job returning kickoffs and punts. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong deserves a bow.

* If you thought the Cowboys were picking on Jamel Dean after Murphy-Bunting departed, you’re not alone. To be fair, Carlton Davis and Ross Cockrell were also roasted as Lamb and Cooper each topped the 100-yard mark. Davis provided Tampa Bay’s lone takeaway with a big interception off a tipped ball.

* The Cowboys registered 21 first downs through the air and another five due to Buc penalties. It’s a toss up which of those numbers is more distressing to Arians and Bowles.

* Each of Gronk’s TD catches required great patience. He started both snaps by lining up next to right tackle Tristan Wirfs and assuming a blocking stance before filtering out as a target. Brady had enough time to let the play develop.

* On a muggy Florida night, the Buc defense was on the field for 77 snaps. That’s way too much work for any unit with veterans like Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Lavonte David, but give Dallas credit for crisp execution and a daring game plan. Facing the NFL’s No. 1 rush defense, the Cowboys ran only 14 times and put the game in Prescott’s hands. He responded with 403 yards, answering any remaining questions about his ankle, his shoulder or his competitive drive.

In short, Dak scared the hell out of Buc Nation.

Sage Ira Kaufman drives a 2020 Ford Escape, cherry red, from Bill Currie Ford. Ira loves that ride as much as he adores tater tots. Shop now at and demand the Ira Kaufman discount.

36 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Cowboys”

  1. HC Grover Says:

    We Won and had Fun That is all.

  2. HC Grover Says:

    Stop wit da negative waves Moriority.

  3. August 1976 Buc Says:

    The turnovers and missed opportunities, dropped passes and fumbles by the Bucs kept this game close in spite of the Bucs overall bad secondary play. Really the offense could easily have scored 40+

    Dallas opened the book on the Bucs D. HOW?
    Just listen to C Collinsworth …

    Chris Collinsworth said ” It is really comical they (Dallas) are avoiding the Defensive front 7 and just playing outside”

    The Bucs really had no answer for it with their super soft cushion Pass Defense.

    1 question, why set up to concede a first down by a Corner Back, it so reminds me of the Mike Smith.

    We all see what Dallas thought about Dean. Not fun to watch.

    GO BUCS!!!!

  4. HC Grover Says:

    Wellt he Bucs totally bunched up the MIDDLE. That maybe was the plan/it worked.

  5. BradyBucs Says:

    “…torturing a Tampa Bay secondary that wilted after an early elbow injury to Sean Murphy-Bunting.”


    SMB was get burned all game before his injury. In fact, the very TD play he got hurt on was HIS MAN. He had horrible coverage as his man literally just ran right by him and was WIDE OPEN.

    SMB and Dean both SUCK. I don’t care about their occasional INTs. They’re below average NFL coverage guys.

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    Cowboys, 3rd best offense in football behind Tampa and KC.

    Give them their credit. If the Bucs offense isn’t self imploding they’re putting up over 40 points and it’s really not a close game despite the defensive struggles.

    But again, this is a very very very good Dallas offense, one of the very very best, and we just played in incredibly bad and sloppy game and still won.

    I don’t expect the sloppy stuff to continue.

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent recap Ira; at least someone’s calling it like it was. Bucs were LUCKY to win that game (since Dallas’ kicker left 7 points on the table?) after committing 4 giveaways on the night AND having over 100 yds in penalties. Our saving grace was that Tom Brady throws TDs instead of settling for FGs.

    It became obvious that our defense isn’t good enough (at this point in the season at least) to stay on the field for almost 35 mins without our starters getting worn down. Only ONE sack on the night? (Without a pass rush we’re in trouble). Only ONE pick of a QB who threw it 58 times? (Defenders missed an easy 3 INTs IMO).

    And yet we won. Thank Tom Brady & Ryan Succop for refusing to lose.

  8. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Rod the Script that Dallas followed is going to be used by others, the Bucs have to find answers for this.

    I also posted that the Bucs should have scored 40, but with the mistakes the Bucs committed, it made it a game.
    But that still is not what any Buc fan wants to endure.

    Other teams will say screw the run, and just pick apart the secondary too. No one wants 45-42 games every week, at least not me.

    Just hope somehow, they win by playing a clean game next week and injury free.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  9. richbucsfan Says:

    The Bucs secondary put a lot of crap play on film. Dean can expect to be singled out until he can defend the pass (if he can). For that matter, except for the tipped ball, they looked pretty much like they did a couple of seasons ago. Wake up call or no, this secondary looked very suspect and very beatable. Lots of work ahead for the coaches to get them ready for the season.

  10. mg Says:

    Thats how I saw it, Ira.
    When will you be on with The Mad Dog?

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Brady- SMB was getting toasted like everyone else, I agree.
    Credit where it’s due, Dallas stayed away from our strength (the run) and exploited our weakness. Without pressure, our secondary was awful with and without SMB.
    The turnovers made this game closer than it had to be. Prior to the fumble(s), we were running effectively. We gave them short fields and they took advantage.
    Once again, credit where it’s due, Dak was sharp.
    In the end, with a minute and change left and Brady at the helm, you always have a chance.

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Man it’s a little early to panic! I agree completely with Rod’s take!

    First of all they pay the other guys! All the focus was on the missing Zack Martin…how about the guys who did play…One was the 9th freaking pick in the draft and the other Collins could have been if he hadn’t gotten into such serious off field trouble.

    We love our tackles…the ‘Boys are just as talented. And again…Zeke won a lot of respect from me for the way he ABUSED DW45 when he tried to blitz.

    DW45 did not have his best game that’s for sure but he’ll be back. Great players always bounce back and I think he’s a great LB.

  13. Bird Says:

    Calling richard sherman

    I mean why not ? You are all in with brady
    I dont think his play was that bad last year but maybe i am wrong

  14. Buxszntkt Says:

    We got the W , but just like the MikeSmith D , can’t brag about the Run D not allowing 100 yards when the opponent passes for over 400 ! If your opponent realizes it’s easier to throw the ball than run it and they put up 29 points there is nothing to boast about holding a team under 100 yards rushing.

  15. Doctor Stroud Says:

    My favorite line from last night came from a ref calling a penalty on Dallas: “False start…the entire offensive line.”

  16. D-Rome Says:

    Excellent article. Yes, the perfect season is still alive!

    Godwin was the one that nearly blew this game for the team. The Bucs were beautifully chewing up clock on that drive and probably could have burned another minute off until that gaffe.

  17. Doctor Stroud Says:

    All of the talk about Zak Prescott’s injuries was just that. There are lies, damned lies, and then there are NFL injury reports!

  18. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Anybody thinking undefeated season now? What happened to the half time adjustments? Full stadium with no masks. The Cowboys played like they were the defending champions. Complacency not an issue? If you have been a fan of this team from the very beginning, you know not to be overconfident. The most complete team in the NFC has a lot of holes. Number one run defense? Why run the ball when you can play pitch and catch all night? On a bright note…….our Special Teams actually looked Special last night. Win the division and then……

  19. Jim Says:

    Godwin’s great catch very nearly sealed the victory for us, but he refused to go down, and so gave up a turn-over. He wanted to score; Kid’s got heart…

  20. Dreambig Says:

    I agree with BradyBucs and Rod. Dallas was playing very smart and seem to have really good offense. Before SMB got hurt, I made the comment that Dak was making SMB his b*tch. Dean came in and it got worse. Thankfully we have Brady and still won but Bowles has a lot of work to do.

  21. rrsrq Says:

    I thought Dak short-armed a few late in the game though, that was a lot to put on him, though he showed up, he would’ve got those completions if it wasn’t for 3-4 drops

  22. Ed Says:

    After last night’s comeback win, the coaching staff needs to re-evaluate the preparation or lack of adjustments that should have been made at halftime. First off, the tackling on the perimeters was awful, I saw many 3 yard passes get busted by Cowboy WR’s that turned into 10-15 yard runs after the catch. The Bucs D was giving up too many easy first downs.

    Fortunately for Tampa fans, the professionals on the team: Brown, Gronk, Succup and Brady came to play. Godwin’s failure to secure the ball nearly killed a Bucs victory-sealing drive. Chris is a great runner after the catch, he is a veteran, that was a bone-head fumble, those extra couple of yards he got spinning and fighting exposed the ball to Cowboy hit and it popped out. At that point in the game, take the completion and don’t try and be a hero, have to be smart.

    By next week this game will be forgotten. I hope the party is over and the team gets down to being more prepared for opponents. The Bucs were lucky to survive those fumbles. Defense did make plays in the 4th quarter. They were pretty bad in quarters 2 and 3. Good win but a wake up call.

  23. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    It’s funny how reality has a way of quieting the mouths of blowhard fans who don’t quite live in the world of reality. They were talking about how we were going to crush Dallas and run all over them even one of the Joe’s said we were going to race boat them. Look at people now all sobered up from their over exuberance. The defense is where they were last year and offense ahead. Lots of football left ahead and this offense has to carry this team until the defense finds its teeth

  24. ocala Says:

    Great game: Gronk, A.B., Brady, Wirfs, D. Smith, Succop and Pinion

    Terrible game: SMB, Dean, D. White, Winfield, Edwards, Jones and Fournette

  25. 813bucboi Says:

    relax fellas….

    we will get every teams A game….

    poor execution, drop balls and 4 TOs and we still put up 30+ points and get the W….

    we just have to tighten the screws….we’re good….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  26. BucDan Says:

    So many people going nuts over the defense. Was a close game. When you give the ball back to the opponent multiple times, the defense is definitely strained. And did they not go against one of the best QB-WR groups in the NFL?? Cooper is a $20M a year guy and CeeDee is a number one on any other team.

    I’m not going to bitch and moan when the defense provided the bend, don’t break mentality a few times stopping the Cowboys for FG attempts instead of TDS.

    The game was in the bag to win by double digits and offensive players (who should be the focus not the defenders) kept the drops and turnovers happening.

    Got out with a W and on to ATL next Sunday.

  27. Stpetematt Says:

    You forgot Vea on the great game list.

  28. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Looked to me like Wirfs got worked a lil bit… but TB12 is still upright so….

  29. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Thing is…

    Bucs have touted being the # 1 rush defense for a while now. Truth is our secondary is so bad no one HAS to run.

    On the bright side, let’s just call last night all the preseason games rolled into one for the starters. 10 days to figure out how not to embarrass ourselves again on Defense.

  30. Says:

    How can u not mention Vea. He was things 1-5 in my book

  31. Bucamania Says:

    DBs playing 10 yards off made it waaaaay too easy for Dak. And the penalties were ridiculous. So many. Then there was the turnovers. So many negative plays but they still found a way to win.

  32. Logan Says:

    You thought Carlton Davis got tortured? We watched two different games then. I saw Dean and Cockrel get worked, and the only man standing was Carlton.

  33. TOM Says:

    Can’t believe Collinsworth compared Prescott to Brady. Saying he saw two great QB’s tonight. Wait till Prescott’s around twenty years before you crap like that. Brady G.O.A.T. League of his own. No comparisons.

  34. unbelievable Says:

    Everyone seems to forget that Dallas’ offense was looking like one of the best in the league before Dak got injured last year… They are good. They have talent.

    And while our secondary AND our inside linebackers both didn’t play well, neither did our D-line.

    ONE sack and ZERO QB hits in 58 pass attempts?

    That is pathetic. And that is NOT on the secondary…

  35. Brandon Says:

    Dumb 💩s calling Dean and SMB names. They had bad nights. That happens when you face one of the top two WR groups in the NFL along with an excellent QB. Grow up, shut up. Lord knows none of you know-nothings ever suited up.

  36. mark2001 Says:

    At least this “worn down” defense will have about four extra days in addition to a week to get rested back up. Could you imagine these older Defensive guys having to play on a Thursday after a Sunday game, with that may plays…in that heat. Not a good thought.