TAMPA — In beating the Cowboys 10-6 on Sunday, the Bucs pulled off something exceptionally rare — not just winning at home, but winning when only scoring 10 points.
Tampa Bay had lost 29 straight when scoring 10 or less — the last win had been December 2005, 10-3 over the Saints. It had happened one other time in the NFL this season, on Oct. 25 when the Falcons defeated the Titans 10-7. Teams scoring 10 or less were 1-31 going into Sunday.
"We knew that they were going to be a salty defense," said Cowboys QB Matt Cassel, part of an offense that gained a season-low 216 yards. "At the same time, we had some opportunities we didn't take advantage of. You've got to give them credit, because they were stingy against the run and did a good job on the pass."
Even Lovie Smith, known as a defensive coach, had won only twice with just 10 or fewer points, and not since 2006, going 2-30 before Sunday.
"No such thing as an ugly win or anything like that," Smith said Monday. "It's hard to get wins in the NFL. … Our linebackers (Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander) did play well, probably as good as the two of them have played at the same time … The defense as a whole played that way."
The Cowboys with 42 rushing yards, were held under 50 rushing yards and 10 points for only the fourth time in 15 years.
Coming back?: Smith said he has "reasonable optimism" that some long-term injured players — WR Vincent Jackson (knee), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), DE Jacquies Smith (ankle), S Major Wright (hamstring) and S D.J. Swearinger (toe) have all missed multiple games — could be back Sunday against the Eagles.
"It was close for a few of them (Sunday)," said Smith, who was also without G Ali Marpet (ankle). "Hopefully we'll get a few of the guys back this week."
Smith had no update on DE George Johnson, who was limited to 17 plays Sunday after a calf injury.
Good month: The Bucs still have two games in November, which is a good thing by recent trends. Since 2012 they're 9-7 in November, 8-33 in all other months.
Crowd close: The announced crowd of 64,133 Sunday was just 218 less than another strong crowd a week earlier to see Bucs-Giants. Actual attendance, per the Tampa Sports Authority, was 57,572, or 2,069 less than for the Giants game.
This and that: Two former starters barely played Sunday. OT Demar Dotson, making his season debut after missing eight games with a knee injury, was relegated to three plays on special teams, none on offense. CB Johnthan Banks, benched a week earlier, saw zero snaps on defense and seven on special teams. … Having beaten Cassel, the Bucs likely will face backup quarterbacks in the next two weeks in Philadelphia's Mark Sanchez and Indianapolis' Matt Hasselbeck. There could be another backup on the schedule as the Rams benched Nick Foles on Monday and will start Case Keenum this week. The Bucs play Dec. 17 at St. Louis.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.