Tom Brady Out-Duels Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in opening

TAMPA, Fla – The NFL loves quarterback duels, and Tom Brady and Dak Prescott attacked and retaliated again and again Thursday night. In...


TAMPA, Fla – The NFL loves quarterback duels, and Tom Brady and Dak Prescott attacked and retaliated again and again Thursday night. In the season opener, Brady, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl last season, and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, who signed a stunning contract extension in the offseason, have convincingly traded touchdowns though sometimes sloppy play that was decided on the final disc.

The Buccaneers held on for a 31-29 victory as Brady and Prescott totaled 782 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Brady landed the final punch, leading the Buccaneers to 57 yards in under 90 seconds so Ryan Succop could hit the winning basket with two seconds left.

“There was no doubt we were going to win this game” because Brady was at the helm, said Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians.

But the final score and specific stats had almost nothing to do with the happy passing affair that faded away on big plays and mistakes. The game was a reminder of the entertainment value of the NFL and was well received by football fans who haven’t seen a game since the 2020 season which was warped by the coronavirus pandemic.

The match also took place in the same stadium as the last game of last season, Super Bowl LV. The Buccaneers looked alike, too. They brought in their 22 starters to defend their title – a rarity in the free agent era.

Attendance, which had been capped at 22,000 spectators for the title match, finally seemed normal too. Few fans wore masks, as they are no longer needed, and every seat at Raymond James Stadium was occupied, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s March Promise. At the time, however, vaccination rates were increasing across the country and the number of infections was declining.

Six months later, the Delta variant of the virus has become a delta for the NFL, just like the rest of the country.

“Our challenge right now, and this is something we are discussing with the property, is definitely that we are in a major wave,” said Dr Allen Sills, league chief medical officer, last month. “It’s no secret to any of you, or any of us in medicine, what the impact of the Delta variant is. It is a very different disease in many ways.

More than 90% of NFL players and all coaches and staff are vaccinated, but dozens of them have tested positive for Covid-19 since training camps opened in July. Some of the league’s biggest stars, including Colts quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, have refused to be vaccinated.

“We are certainly running more risks this year than we put ourselves last year” Brady told reporters this week. “I mean, just look at all the things we do differently than last year around this time. So I would say the risk is great for everyone. “

The 65,000 fans seated cheek to cheek at the game were happy to be back. They posed for photos near a metal Super Bowl LV sculpture in front of the stadium and gulped down beers near the pirate ship replica near the north area. But some have said the pandemic is still significant.

“It feels good to be vaccinated” and to be able to move around more freely, said Winford Artis, a Buccaneers season ticket holder who only played two games last year. “But deep in your head you’re thinking about things because it’s the new normal. But it’s getting better. “

Brady and Prescott looked strong on their return from injuries. Brady, who fixed an injured knee during the off-season, looked comfortable in the pocket. He completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards and four scores.

Two of those touchdown passes were thrown at tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s teammate for nine seasons in New England before the pair moved to Florida in 2020. They only became the second quarterback pair in league history to combine for 100 touchdowns, and their familiarity with each other was on display all evening.

Halfway through the third quarter, the Buccaneers picked up the ball at the Dallas 35-yard line after cornerback Carlton Davis intercepted Prescott. Brady found Gronkowski with a 20-yard strike on the first down. Three games later, Brady seemed to anticipate a Cowboys blitz, stepping back several steps to buy time, as Gronkowski bounced off Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and slipped unscathed into midfield. As if he was leading a game of pick-and-roll at basketball, Brady sent the ball to Gronkowski on the fly and, a few strides later, the tight end was in the end zone.

“It’s amazing the chemistry they’ve had for a long time,” Arians said.

Prescott, who missed most of last season with a major leg injury, completed 42 of 58 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Often under pressure, Prescott also ran four times, but only took one sack of the much-vaunted Tampa Bay pass rush. Dallas largely gave up the run, rushing for 60 total yards, 13 of which came from Prescott.

But Prescott and the Cowboys couldn’t do much after recovering two deep turnovers in the Buccaneers’ half. And Brady, who was recovering from a knee injury he sustained last season, made the Cowboys pay for their mistakes, including a pair of missed baskets from kicker Greg Zuerlein, who is recovering from back surgery. out of season.

It was another highlight for a league built on heaps of hyperbole.

This hyperbole has made the owners of the NFL team a lot of money. After losing $ 4 billion last year due to attendance restrictions, the league in May signed a 10-year contract with its largest media partners worth over $ 100 billion. He also added a 17th regular season game, which will generate even more revenue.

The NFL will undoubtedly face some hurdles as it navigates its extended season through the lingering pandemic. But for one night, anyway, the NFL felt normal again.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Tom Brady Out-Duels Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in opening
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