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Dak Prescott passed for four touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a dominant 31-14 win over host Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Monday night’s NFC wild card round.
Prescott rushed for 305 yards and led the fifth-ranked Cowboys to their first playoff road win since their 30-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on January 17, 1993 at Candlestick Park. Dallas broke an eight-game road slip with the win.
“I didn’t listen to other people’s opinions, other people’s thoughts,” Prescott said after the game on ESPN when asked if he was constantly asked about the Cowboys’ playoff problems. “I have a great supporting cast and a team that believes in me. That’s all that really matters to me and I just stay focused on what I can do.”
Ironically, the Cowboys will visit the second-placed 49ers in Sunday’s divisional round.
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“I’m looking forward to it. They’re a good team,” Prescott said of the 49ers. “They knocked us out (in the playoffs) last year. We know what we have in front of us.”
Dalton Schultz caught seven passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, while Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb also scored for the Cowboys. Tony Pollard ran for 77 yards on 15 carries.
Tom Brady completed 35 of 66 passes for 351 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the fourth-seeded Buccaneers. Brady has not yet committed to returning to Tampa Bay, playing for another team next season, or retiring.
“I’m going to go home and sleep well, at least as well as I can tonight,” Brady said at his post-game press conference (which he ended by thanking the media for covering the team and the Buccaneers for the welcome him to the club ahead of the 2020 season).
Julio Jones and Cameron Brate caught touchdown passes and Chris Godwin had 10 receptions for 85 yards for the Buccaneers.
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher set an NFL postseason record by missing four extra point attempts, his first four of the game. Maher missed three right and one left.
Dallas did not record a first down on either of his first two possessions, but threw 80 yards in seven games during his third time with the ball. The Cowboys capped it off when Prescott threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Schultz at 6:28 in the opening quarter.
Tampa Bay had a chance to level, but Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Jayron Kearse on the second play of the second quarter.
Dallas responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed 8:38 off the clock. Prescott scored the touchdown while driving left on a 1-yard run.
The Cowboys delivered an 11-play excursion for 91 yards later in the quarter. This time, Prescott hit Schultz with an 11-yard throw to make it 18-0 with 27 seconds left at halftime.
Dallas continued their dominance with another long drive in the third quarter. The Cowboys meandered for 86 yards in eight games, with Prescott Gallup hitting on a 2-yard score. Maher’s fourth miss left Dallas’ lead at 24.
Tampa Bay came on the board when Brady Jones hit on a 30-yard touchdown pass in the final game of the third quarter. Two-point conversion failed.
Due to Maher’s kicking problems, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy waved off the fourth-place kicking unit in the fourth quarter. Dallas went for it instead, and Prescott hit a wide-open lamb for an 18-yard score, leaving 10:13.
Maher stepped in and kicked an extra point straight down the middle.