Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs vs. Cowboys: 5 things you might have missed

TAMPA — A few trends and observations you might have missed during Sunday afternoon's offensively challenged opening minutes — all 59 of them — at Raymond James Stadium:

1 The NFL's most controversial figure apparently couldn't get through a game without creating at least a brief spectacle. During a timeout with just less than 10 minutes to play, Cowboys DE Greg Hardy — his helmet off — began hopping and waving his arms toward the south end zone as chants of "Hardy (rhymes with trucks)" grew.

The next play, Jameis Winston lofted a screen pass over Hardy's head to Doug Martin, who scampered for 25 yards.

"I don't think he was taunting," said Bucs LT Donovan Smith, who helped neutralize Hardy (one tackle) virtually all day. "He was just fired up. I mean, when you have a ton of Dallas Cowboy fans, you're giving him the chance to fire up the crowd. He was just playing football to me."

2 Not that Smith's afternoon was blemish-free. To the contrary, the rookie was whistled for three false starts, including two on the same second-quarter possession that ended with a missed Connor Barth 46-yard field goal. They were the Buccaneers' only two first-half infractions.

"It happens," he said. "Nothing else to it."

3 Winston's interception late in the first half — on a high pass over the middle that tipped off TE Brandon Myers' outstretched hands — snapped his streak of 134 passes without a pick. Both his interceptions Sunday were off-target throws that were deflected.

"Those two picks, man, just got to make throws," he said. "You know, not necessarily bad reads at all, just some tipped balls that I'll fix."

4 For the second Sunday in a row, CB Sterling Moore's performance was predominantly … well … sterling. A week after keeping Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. out of the end zone, Moore — the Cowboys' primary nickel back in 2014 — mostly excelled in coverage on former teammate Dez Bryant, who had five catches (for 45 yards) on 12 targets.

"Sterling Moore for the most part was on him. And of course being with the Cowboys, he knew quite a bit," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "He's competed against him a lot. Sterling Moore, when his number has been called, he has stepped up to the plate."

5 Though records are sketchy, this may have been the first time three local teams won on the Raymond James Stadium field in a 24-hour span. Sandwiched between USF's 44-23 upset Saturday of No. 21 Temple and the Bucs' victory was a one-TD triumph by the South Tampa Nightmare.

A locals girls AAU flag football team consisting predominantly of Robinson High players, the Nightmare edged the East Bay Bandits during a halftime mini-game on Lauren King's TD pass to Megan Bohan.

"It was great to be part of something that promotes such a great sport in front of a big audience," said Nightmare coach Josh Saunders, who led Robinson to last spring's state flag football title game.

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

 
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