Turnovers, penalties costly in Bucs' loss to Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas — Two days before Christmas, the Bucs came to AT&T Stadium Sunday and gifted the Cowboys two touchdowns.
Dallas scored 14 points on a pair of Jameis Winston fumbles and the Bucs lost their final road game of the season 27-20 at Jerry's World. The Bucs have lost seven of their last nine games heading into a season finale that could foreshadow a massive overhaul in the front office and coaching staff at One Buc Place.
The Bucs' formula to winning has been simple. And on most Sundays, when they haven't committed turnovers, Tampa Bay has put itself in good position for victory.
This wasn’t one of those days.
Ezekiel Elliott secures the win for the Cowboys with a run around right end for a first down.
Leighton Vander Esch recovers the onside kick, and the Cowboys secure possession.
And there’s the touchdown, a strike to Mike Evans in the middle of the end zone. Bucs trail 27-20 with 2:05 to play.
Winston hits Bobo Wilson over the middle, and Bucs are at the 7.
Winston throws outside to Cameron Brate for a first down at the Cowboys 32.
Jacquizz Rodgers reception results in another first down.
Winston throws over the middle to Humphries for a first down at the Bucs 45.
Jameis Winston throws deep for DeSean Jackson, who is double covered, and the ball is nearly intercepted.
Bucs force a punt but have to use their final timeout with 4:36 to play, trailing by 14.
And there goes Elliott again, on a long run. But play is nullified by a holding penalty, resulting in an 8-yard loss.
Cowboys out to their 27 after Elliott’s 12-yard run.
Oh, my. Winston stopped a yard short of the first down, and Cowboys will take over on downs.
Bucs again called for delay of game, and this time it sticks. It’s now fourth-and-6 from the 7.
Winston throws out of the end zone, and it’s fourth-and-1.
Peyton Barber stopped at the line of scrimmage, and it’s now third-and-1.
Wow. Delay of game call against Bucs nullified by delay of game penalty against Demarcus Lawrence, giving Bucs a first down.
Bucs facing fourth-and-inches after Winston scramble to the Cowboys 15.
Bucs convert on fourth down on pass to Jacquizz Rodgers.
DeSean Jackson sidelined with foot injury
DALLAS — Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson’s return from thumb injury was interrupted Sunday when he was sidelined with a foot injury.
Jackson, who missed the past three games, hobbled off the field after making a 24-yard catch from Jameis Winston late in the second quarter that set up the Bucs' touchdown.
After the play, Jackson hobbled off the field with and fell to the ground on the sideline holding the bottom part of his right leg writhing in pain.
Winston’s throw to Humphries on third-and-4 is a couple yards short of a first down.
Ugh. Winston just misses an open Mike Evans on a deep throw downfield.
And the Cowboys make them pay, as Michael Gallup beats Brent Grimes and Prescott hits him in the back of the end zone. Cowboys expand their lead to 27-13 with 2:23 to play in the third.
Oh, no! Bobo Wilson loses a handoff from Winston, and Randy Gregory recovers for the Cowboys at the Bucs 4.
Peyton Barber breaks loose for 34 yards into Cowboys territory, but a holding penalty against Anthony Auclair will bring it back.
Brett Maher’s 20-yard kick makes it 20-13 Cowboys with 3:41 left in the third.
Completion to Beasley is short of the goal line, and Cowboys will attempt a field goal.
Jason Pierre-Paul drops Amari Cooper for a loss of 7. It’s now third-and-goal from the 10.
And there he is again. Beasley makes a nice leaping catch for a first down at the Bucs 16.
Prescott goes back to Beasley for the first down.
Cole Beasley picks up 13 yards, setting up third-and-3.
Elliott back on the field.
Michael Gallup pulls in an 18-yard reception from Dak Prescott.
Ezekiel Elliott limps off the field after a short gain.
It’s not even close. Bucs turn the ball back over to the Cowboys, still trailing by 4.
Winston’s throw for Godwin skips into the receiver’s hands. Santos on to try for a 52-yard field goal.
Byron Jones breaks up pass along the sideline for Mike Evans, bringing up third-and-18.
Ugh. Winston sacked by Marcus Lawrence, pushing the Bucs back to the 34.
Chris Godwin getting into the action now, with a 20-yard reception to the Cowboys 26.
Bucs trail Cowboys 17-13 at halftime
DALLAS — The Bucs showed some late first-half life against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, quickly driving down the field to get a much-needed touchdown in the final seconds of the first half.
The Bucs had been held out of the end zone until then but went into the locker room trailing only 17-13.
Tampa Bay was charged for seven penalties for 57 yards, nullifying in part a half that saw the Bucs outgain the Cowboys in total yards (206 to 116) and dominate time of possession (19:32-10:25)
Well, so much for that. Vita Vea sacks Prescott as the half comes to a close.
Cowboys quickly move to midfield with 10 seconds left in the half.
Jacquizz Rodgers bulls his way into the end zone for a Bucs touchdown. Tampa Bay trails 17-13 with 20 seconds left in the half.
Winston flushed out of the pocket and scrambles to the 2.
First-and-goal for the Bucs from the Dallas 6.
Evans hits Adam Humphries over the middle, and Humphries is clobbered by Xavier Woods. Woods flagged for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver.
Winston’s pass into the end zone goes off Evans' hands. Evans probably got away with a shove there.
Mike Evans pulls in a Winston pass for 11 yards and a first down at the 20.
Winston goes right back to Jackson for a completion to midfield. A roughing the passer penalty moves the ball to the Dallas 36.
Chidobe Awuzie breaks up long pass for DeSean Jackson.
And it’s good! Cowboys lead, 17-6 with 1:43 remaining in the half.
Prescott pass to Ezekiel Elliott is short of a first down, and Brett Maher will come on to attempt a 59-yard field goal.
And now Carl Nassib drops Prescott for a loss at the two-minute warning.
Dak Prescott throws behind wide-open Blake Jarwin.
Cole Beasley returns the punt to the Bucs 45 with 2:09 remaining.
Yikes. Winston is sacked by Maliek Collins back near the 2. Bryan Anger will punt from deep in his own end zone.
And now it’s third-and-15 from the 10 after delay of game call.
Bucs facing third-and-10 from their 15 with 2:32 left in the half.
And, Dallas returns the favor, getting the ball right back with 5:41 left in the half.
Bucs defense forces a three-out-out, resulting in the first punt of the game by either team.
Santos' kick from 45 yards out is true, and the Bucs trim their deficit to 14-6 with 9:13 left in the half.
Winston throws short for Jacquizz Rodgers, and kicker Cairo Santos will come onto the field.
Winston overthrows Chris Godwin in the end zone. It’s now third-and-18.
Peyton Barber, under seige in the Bucs' backfield, dances his way out of a couple of tackles, but a block in the back results in an eight-yard loss.
And there’s Humphries again, good for nine yards and another first down at the 27.
Winston misses Mike Evans on a slant pass, and it’s third-and-7 from the Cowboys 36.
Winston finds Adam Humphries for a first down across midfield.
Cowboys defensive lineman carted off field with neck injury
DALLAS — Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was carted off the field on a stretcher following the Bucs' second offensive play of the game.
Crawford, who entered the day second on the Cowboys with 5.5 sacks, lay on the AT&T Stadium turf for several moments after Adam Humphries recorded the game's first first down on an eight-yard reception.
Crawford was transported to a local hospital with a neck strain, according to the FOX TV broadcast.
Oof. Jameis Winston fumbles as he’s hit from behind by Randy Gregory. Jaylon Smith picks up the loose ball and returns it 69 yards for a touchdown. Cowboys extend their lead to 14-3 with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Prescott keeps it after a fake to Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys move ahead, 7-3, with 7:07 left in the quarter.
Vita Vea drops Dak Prescott for a sack but is flagged for a facemask on the play. Result is another Dallas first down, and the Bucs 7.
Amari Cooper has a Cowboys first down with a gain of 10 yards to the Bucs 14.
Great catch by Michael Gallup for 31 yards and a first down along the right sideline.
Adarius Taylor drops a sure interception, and it’s 3rd-and-12 for the Cowboys from their 34.
Cairo Santos good from 37 yards, and Bucs take early 3-0 lead.
Winston pass for Adam Humphries over the middle broken up by Jaylon Smith.
Bucs face third-and-16.
Big completion from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans for 38 yards to the Cowboys 13.
Bucs at Cowboys, 1 p.m.; AT&T Stadium, Dallas; TV/radio: FOX, 97.9-FM
Report: Bucs haven’t ruled out retaining Dirk Koetter
With the end of the 2018 season fast approaching, there’s more chatter about the future of Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.
On Sunday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Bucs will huddle at the end of the season to discuss Koetter's future and not to assume he will be fired.
As Rapoport reasons, Koetter is the architect of the best offense in franchise history and the defense has played much better since firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith and replacing him with linebackers coach Mark Duffner.
Ryan Griffin will back up Jameis Winston today in Dallas
DALLAS — Ryan Fitzpatrick is a healthy scratch for the Bucs' final road game in Dallas this afternoon, meaning that Ryan Griffin will serve as the backup to Jameis Winston at quarterback against the Cowboys.
Griffin has yet to play in an NFL regular-season game — his only on-field action has been in the preseason– but the move marks the first time that Griffin will serve as the Bucs' backup quarterback in a game in which both Winston and Fitzpatrick are available options.