Not many gave the Bucs a fighting chance against the Cowboys, but they
hung around long enough to make the game interesting till the fourth quarter. Dropped passes, blown coverage and miscues on special teams ultimately did the team in.
Byron Leftwich – For as awful as Byron looked in the pre-season. He showed remarkable courage hanging in the pocket and delivering the ball down field. Good overall outing and command of the playbook. Took several big hits, but continued to hang tough. Leftwich threw for 276 yards on 25 of 41 with one touchdown. Finished the game with an 89.1 QB rating.
Michael Clayton – The much maligned receiver since his rookie season showed solid hands and toughness making tough catches whether in traffic or stretching out. For a player that has missed most of training camp and pre-season games he looked in rare rookie form during his first game under a new regime. Clayton was the teams leading receiver with five catches for 93 yards and a long of 47 yards.
Cadillac Williams – Burst, speed, vision, and decent blitz pickup. Tough runner, constantly picking up hidden yardage after contact. Emotional leader early on, on offense. Finally some hope for the new zone blocking scheme. Grounded out 77 yards on 8 carries and a touchdown in the first half, he ended the game with 97 yards on 13 carries and one score.
Play Calling – After starting out hot, gashing the Cowboys early on with the run. Greg Olson shied away from what was working. The Bucs piled up 101 yards rushing in the first half, but then drifted away from what was working early on in the second half, instead deciding to put the ball in the air.
Pass Protection – For the most part the line gave Leftwich time, still sloppy play when identifying proper blitz pick up. Allowed too much penetration in the second half, allowing defenders to get hard shots on Leftwich.
Pass Rush – What happened to the “Go Package” very uninspired game from a pass rush stand point. Was Gaines Adams even dressed for this game? Very unimaginative pressure package against one of the games elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
Pass Coverage – Blown assignments, missed tackles, bad angles and just an overall lackadaisical effort when trying to reroute receivers. Awful communication between the entire secondary.