Bucs impressive in opening victory

by Gary Shelton on September 12, 2022

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

It wasn't perfect. If you're picking nits, there is still some work that the Tampa Bay Bucs have to do.

On the other hand, they kicked open the door to the regular season with some force Sunday night.

Granted, they bogged down in the red zone too often. They lost both Chris Godwin and Donovan Smith to injuries. Tom Brady was only pretty good.

On the other hand, this was a fine way to open the season.

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The Bucs, winless in the preseason, were ready from the start in a 19-3 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The running game? Leonard Fournette rushed for 127 yards behind a strong offensive line.

The secondary? They held Dak Prescott -- the quarterback who carved them up in last season's opener -- to a rating of 47.2. The receivers:

Mike Evans, Godwin and Julio Jones were superb. The young offensive line? It gave up two sacks, but its run blocking was very good. The pass rush? It had four sacks -- two by Devin White.

How good were the Bucs? Put it this way. Brady may have been the fourth reason the Bucs won.

The first reason was the defense. The second was Fournette. The third was kicker Ryan Succop.

Compare it to the way the Bucs have started the last two seasons. Last year, the Bucs squeaked past the same Cowboys, 31-29; Two years ago, they lost a 34-23 game to New Orleans.

So yeah, playing under new head coach Todd Bowles for the first time, the Bucs looked solid.

"We're not polished yet," said Bowles.

Yes, there were times the offense sputtered a bit.

"I've got a long way to go," Brady said. "Offensively, we can do a lot better. We’re going to have to score in the red area."

Hey, there are different ways to open a football season. Ask the Rams. Ask the 49ers. Ask the Packers and the Bengals.

Oh, the first month of the season will hard. Next week, the Bucs have to travel to New Orleans, then they have home games against the Packers and Chiefs.

For now, however, the Bucs are undefeated. Brady figures to get sharper. The offensive line should continue to grow.

Granted, one step doesn't prove anything.

But it was a bold step, a strong step. It was a nice way to start.

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