The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled out a close win against the Dallas Cowboys in an incredibly low-scoring the game. The Bucs won 10-6 after getting into the red zone for the first time all game at the end of the fourth quarter, with Jameis Winston running the ball in for the only touchdown of the game. That came just a few plays after Winston fumbled the ball at the goal-line, but a correct defensive holding call negated that play and the Bucs finished the Cowboys off from the half-yard line.
This game was ugly. Until the fourth quarter, both teams had combined for just nine points with the Cowboys holding a 6-3 lead. Neither offense could do anything once they got into field goal range, and two missed field goals and Jameis Winston's first interception since week four depressed the score even further. Neither team even got into field goal range in the third quarter. On the flip side, both defenses were playing solid football -- but that doesn't change the fact that this game was boring for most of the game.
Mike Evans was huge for the Bucs this week, as he had to be with Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins still out. The second-year receiver came up with eight catches for 126 yards despite one big drop and a failure to catch a couple of tough passes early on. Evans is still fighting through some issues with his hands, but he continues to make big plays every week. Like his receiver, Jameis Winston was a little inconsistent with some errant throws and his first two interceptions since week four, but he pulled out a win with a terrific late-game comeback drive, with a goal-line fumble negated by defensive holding.
The Bucs are now 4-5 and the future is looking a little brighter after a good defensive performances are probab, last-minute win. Even if the Bucs are probably out of the playoff race, this win was good to see.
First quarter notes
The Bucs got off to a good start on defense, forcing a three-and-out with undrafted rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah covering Dez Bryant. Jameis Winston and company couldn't do any better, though, with Winston taking a coverage sack on third down. The Cowboys responded with a good punt return by Cole Beasley and a couple of first downs before running into a Kwon Alexander sack and settling for a field goal. The Bucs then relied on Doug Martin, who looked back to form after disappointing last week, to get into field goal range and tie the game at 3-3.
Second quarter notes
The Bucs allowed the Cowboys to drive down the field for a field goal again, with a 24-yard Jason Witten catch with Lavonte David in coverage the key play on that drive. The Bucs looked to score as well, with a 45-yard pass interference call drawn by Mike Evans a key play on their drive, but Connor Barth produced his second miss of the season with a miss from 46 yards to keep the Cowboys up 6-3 after Mike Evans failed to make a pair of tough catches. Dan Bailey returned the favor with his first miss of the season on the next drive.
Mike Evans and Jameis Winston finally found their connection on the Bucs' final drive before the half, with two first downs and a near-touchdown stopped only by an underthrown ball, but a high ball to Brandon Myers turned into Jameis Winston's first interception since week four when Myers saw it go off his fingertips. The Bucs defense held and stopped the Cowboys from extending their lead into the half, though.
Third quarter notes
The Bucs got the ball to start the half, but were forced to punt after a third-down near-fumble ultimately ruled an incompletion on review. The Bucs then forced the Cowboys to punt after Kwon Alexander dropped what looked like an easy interception on third down just a few plays after he and David jumped both jumped on a short route, leaving Gavin Escobar open in the deep middle of the field. Mike Evans' first real drop of the day then killed the Bucs' next drive, three plays after he made a big 22-yard catch-and-run. And the Bucs then stopped the Cowboys again, with Lavonte David picking up his second sack of the season.
Fourth quarter notes
Despite a couple of big plays to Mike Evans and Brandon Myers, the Bucs once again stalled outside field goal range and were forced to punt yet again. Of course, they then stopped the Cowboys too. What can I say, it was repetitive.
The Bucs seemed to finally turn the corner on the next drive, with Doug Martin getting going for the first time since the first quarter, a great screen pass to the same running back, and another big catch by Mike Evans. But Jameis Winston produced one bad throw too many, leading to his second interception of the game. The Bucs defense did its job, helped by a Dez Bryant drop, to give Jameis Winston a chance to win the game at the end. Winston drove the Bucs deep into the red zone for the first time in the entire game.
Winston dropped the ball inches before crossing the goal-line on a scramble, seemingly giving the Cowboys the ball with his third turnover of the day, but that was negated by a defensive holding penalty. On the very next play, Jameis Winston made up for his mistake by running the ball into the endzone all by himself and putting the Bucs up 10-6. Despite a decent return and a stupid personal foul penalty on Mike Jenkins, the Bucs won because Bradley McDougald got a great pick in the endzone to seal the game.
Defensive end George Johnson left the field in the second half with a calf injury and was ruled out for the game.
The Bucs head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.