3 ways Dak Prescott, Cowboys silenced haters in Wild Card win vs Buccaneers
By Jerry Trotta
Hmmm. Perhaps the NFL media shouldn’t have overlooked the fact the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were objectively lousy all season? That would’ve properly prepared the millions who tuned in for Monday night’s Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys, because the Bucs were out-classed on their home turf.
Outside of Brett Maher’s nightmare and some questionable effort from Trevon Diggs, Cowboys fans don’t have much to complain about, as Mike McCarthy’s unit walked into Tampa Bay and left 31-14 victors.
The Cowboys will now travel to the west coast for a date with the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. The 49ers could be the best team left in the tournament — the Chiefs might have something to say about that — but this version of Dallas can beat anyone at home or on the road.
The media tried its best to manifest a Cowboys first-round exit, but Prescott and company had something to say about it. To celebrate the victory (Dallas’ first road win in 30 years !) let’s underline some ways Dak and the squad silenced their haters with the entire country watching Monday night.
How Dak Prescott and the Cowboys silenced haters in dominant Wild Card win vs Buccaneers
3. The running game got going again
It’s still not functioning the way Cowboys fans are accustomed to, but the rushing attack at least had some sizzle Monday night. That was no thanks to Ezekiel Elliot, however, as the veteran struggled to the tune of 27 yards on 13 carries.
Tony Pollard, meanwhile, proved this should be his backfield for the remainder of the postseason and beyond (2023, etc.). While the Bucs found it easy wrapping up Elliott in the backfield, Pollard prove elusive and a nuisance for Todd Bowles defense.
The first-time Pro Bowler rushed 15 times for 77 yards. As he often is, Pollard was just in a different gear relative to his 27-year-old running mate.
Let’s put some perspective on how encouraging that performance was, shall we? In Week 18 against Washington, Pollard and Elliott combined for 45 rushing yards on 1.9 yards per attempt. In Week 17 vs Tennessee (Pollard out due to injury), Elliott was bottled up for 37 yards on 1.9 YPC, and in Week 16 against Philly, Elliott and Pollard logged 74 yards on a lowly 2.7 average.
Again, it wasn’t a commanding game on the ground for Dallas, but you’ll take it all day against Vita Vea, and the Bucs vaunted front seven. Something to build on heading to San Francisco, for sure. All that matters.