Dak Prescott and Tom Brady

Dak Prescott and Tom Brady
Image: Getty Images

There isn’t much the Dallas Cowboys haven’t accomplished in their storied history. Despite not reaching the mountaintop in nearly three decades, Dallas has achieved more than most NFL franchises can imagine. The Cowboys had never beaten Tom Brady before Monday night’s wildcard game with Tampa Bay. Brady was 7-0 against Dallas in his career. America’s Team dominated Brady and the Bucs in most aspects of this game — a 31-14 rout.

This win was huge for Dak Prescott since there was a ton of pressure on him to produce his second playoff victory. Prescott and the Cowboys hadn’t won a postseason game since 2018. The Cowboys were 0 for their previous 8 on the road in the postseason coming into Monday night. That dates back nearly 30 years to Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys. Dak’s four-touchdown pass performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Cowboys avoid humiliation

If Dallas had been eliminated in the Wild Card round in consecutive years, the internet would’ve exploded. The Cowboys earned all the credit this week and have quieted detractors for at least a few days. Prescott once again looks like a star after beating up on a flawed defense in Tampa Bay. Dallas did just about everything right in this game aside from kicking. Cowboys’ kicker Brett Maher missed an NFL-record four extra points in this game. He missed just three extra point attempts in the regular season and eclipsed that in one game.

While the win over an aging Brady, who looked every bit of 45 years old, was nice, it’s time for Dallas to put on its big boy pants and prepare for its toughest challenge. The Cowboys will not dominate the 49ers the same way they did the Buccaneers. Once Dallas got rolling, they were too much for Tampa to handle. This divisional round game against San Francisco won’t look anything like Monday’s.

A more worthy opponent

Tampa Bay ran the ball just 12 times against Dallas. The Niners will run it at least 30, and head coach Kyle Shanahan has no problem pushing that closer to 40 if the situation calls for it. They’ll give the Cowboys a heavy dose of the run on Sunday, guaranteed. Brady and the Bucs couldn’t get out of their own way all year, and it showed against the Cowboys. The Niners have won 11 in a row, including 10 to end the regular season. And Brock Purdy has been lighting up the world since he took over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Dallas lost to San Francisco at home last year in the first round. Now the Cowboys will be looking for revenge.

Aside from the first couple of series and the kicker’s yips, Dallas played a near-flawless game against Tampa. The Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over, intercepted Brady in the red zone, and were perfect on fourth down. The Cowboys gained some much-needed momentum on their way to face the Niners. That game is going to be an all-out fight. San Francisco has been the most dominant team in the NFL since November. Dak and the Cowboys must find a way to outduel the 49ers. No team has done that since the Chiefs manhandled them in Week 7, 44-23, back in October.

For now, the Cowboys get to celebrate their victory and spew all the usual propaganda following a big win. Tampa Bay had its chances, but ultimately Dallas was the better team, and it showed. Once they jumped on the Bucs, that was it, and Brady just wasn’t equipped with the tools needed to stage a comeback. 

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