Why the Buccaneers almost blew an easy win last night

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Buccaneers didn’t let us breathe until the final whistle.

Although the final outcome was almost unanimously predicted by fans and talking heads around the country, Thursday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys was far closer than what was expected and what should have ever been allowed to occur by the defending champions.

While the Bucs were the heavy favorites, the game came down to the last drive, a fortunate no-call in favor of Tampa, and a game-winning field goal.

For the better part of the game, the Bucs failed to look in control, which can mostly be chalked up to the terrible play-calling of Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, which as per usual, made very little sense and kept the Bucs from finding any kind of groove offensively early on.

One would think when considering the Bucs offensive weapons that drawing up something other than a run play up the middle nearly every first down of the game might not be the best idea. This is especially true since even a common fan could see that the Bucs receivers were dominating the bulk of the Cowboys defense, save for cornerback Trevon Diggs, who had an objectively great game covering Mike Evans.

The fact that even Tom Brady was getting visibly upset with Leftwich’s play-calling by the end of the game should tell you everything you need to know.

It’s not that the Bucs shouldn’t run the football, but it is the opportunity cost of not throwing the ball more frequently that prevents the offense from getting any consistent rhythm. It would be one thing if running the ball was the Bucs only option, but it isn’t.

The play-calling begs the question of what was the point of signing Tom Brady and the rest of their receiving core if you didn’t want to fully utilize them.

This isn’t to take away from the stellar performance of Dak Prescott, who somehow managed to look great throughout the game despite not playing for nearly a year, however, it is to say that the Bucs are defending champions and they need to be better if they have any hope of repeating.

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