TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed a 19-3 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at AT&T Stadium as the away side grabbed its first win of the 2022 NFL season.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady returned to the field for his 23rd season in the league and led consistent drives that resulted in his team picking up points on multiple field goal attempts.
Kicker Ryan Succop converted four of five field goals to help the Bucs get a comfortable 12-3 lead in the first half.
In the third quarter, wide receiver Mike Evans recorded the team's first touchdown of the season as he caught a pass from Brady to put his team up 19-3.
Tampa Bay did suffer a couple of injuries as offensive tackle Donovan Smith and wide receiver Chris Godwin exited the game in the first half.
This marks the second consecutive season that the Bucs defeat the Cowboys on the opening day of the season.
Tampa Bay will be on the road again for its second game of the season as the team takes on the New Orleans Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Game preview below:
Tom Brady says he's focused on helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win, not how much longer he may want to play.
“I think we’re all getting one day older at a time. We’re all not sure whether we’re going to be here next year or not,” the 45-year-old quarterback said Thursday “That’s the reality for every player, every coach, every parent. You just never know, so we should all take advantage of the opportunity we have in front of us now.”
It’s been a newsy offseason for the seven-time Super Bowl winner.
He announced his retirement in February, unretired in March, and then missed a chunk of training camp for personal reasons that Brady has not discussed publicly since rejoining the team after an 11-day absence.
The Bucs open the season at 8:20 p.n. Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Brady reiterated he’s focused on the Cowboys, not lingering questions about why he left the team for part of August.
He's accustomed to being in the spotlight off the field, as well as dealing with speculation about his personal life.
“It’s been like that for a long time for me. ... I professionally show up every day and do my job the best way I can” Brady said.
Coach Todd Bowles said this week that he has no doubt Brady will be ready for the season opener and remains fully committed to helping the Bucs get back to the Super Bowl.
“He’s been all-in since we got him. He’s all-in now,” Bowles said. “I don’t follow the off-the-field stuff.”
Brady spoke for 10 minutes on Thursday, fielding questions from local reporters for only the third time since training camp opened in July.
He lauded the addition of Julio Jones to an offense that was already one of the most potent in the NFL.
Brady also spoke highly of two young starters on an injury-depleted offensive line and acknowledged it won’t be easy to replace longtime favorite target Rob Gronkowski, who retired.
“You’d much rather play with a guy like Gronk than not. But he’s not here. We’ve got to do other things and play to the strengths of the players that we have,” Brady said.
“This is what football is all about. The season isn’t going to go like it went last year for anybody. That’s not the reality. You have to deal with where you are in the moment and deal with the challenges you face,” Brady added. “Certain guys aren’t here, certain guys are going to get hurt, things are going to happen to teams. It’s a long marathon, and we’re not even at the starting gate yet.”
BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Julio Jones makes his debut with the Bucs after spending the first 11 seasons of his career with Atlanta and Tennessee. In addition to 61 touchdown receptions, he ranks first among active NFL players with 879 catches and 13,330 yards receiving. He joins an already formidable group of playmakers at Tom Brady’s disposal, including WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Injuries limited Jones' production the past two seasons with the Falcons and Titans, however the Bucs are confident a healthy Jones can be a major asset in 2022.
KEY MATCHUP: Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady vs. Dallas CB Trevon Diggs. The first of Diggs' 11 interceptions last season came against Brady in the opener, and started a streak of at least one pick in each of the first six games. It was the first such streak in the NFL since 2003. Logic says he'll draw Evans most of the time, but the deep receiving group for the Bucs could mean some other matchups.
KEY INJURIES: The Bucs had the unexpected retirement of Bucs G Ali Marpet and injuries that knocked C Ryan Jensen and LG Aaron Stinnie out of the lineup during training camp. Second-year pro Robert Hainsey has stepped in at center, and rookie Luke Goedeke will enter the season as the starter at left guard.
SERIES NOTES: Brady is 6-0 with 14 touchdown passes in six games against the Cowboys, including a 379-yard, four-TD performance a year ago, when Brady led the Bucs on a drive to Ryan Succop's game-winning field goal. ... Dallas is 12-1 at home against Tampa Bay, including 3-0 at AT&T Stadium.
Don't forget to watch The Blitz on 10 Tampa Bay at 8:30 a.m. Sunday with Sports Director Evan Closky and Sports Anchor David Schiele for a full preview as the Bucs square off against the Cowboys.