It wasn’t just the one-sided nature of the team’s 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which would have troubled Dallas Cowboys fans on Sunday night; the sight of their star quarterback leaving with a hand injury was enough to give nightmares.
In the Cowboys’ season-opening game in front of a raucous crowd at their AT&T Stadium against Tom Brady and the Bucs, Dallas’s 2022 season began with a stutter and a scare.
If the struggling offensive performance wasn’t enough to worry about – Dallas didn’t score after opening the game with field goal – a potentially serious injury to Dak Prescott could have long-term repercussions.
In the fourth quarter, as he attempted to power the offense and produce a comeback, Prescott’s throwing hand – his right – connected with the hands of Bucs outside linebacker Shaq Barrett during a pass attempt.
The 29-year-old’s discomfort was evident almost immediately, and he jogged back to the locker room with an athletic trainer.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game that Prescott will undergo further medical examinations but has sustained a fracture “behind the thumb” and will miss “several games but not out for the year.”
Prescott was seen wearing a brace during post-game media availability. He expressed his frustration at the injury but acknowledged it could have been much worse.
“I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been,” Prescott said. “It’s very disappointing, but injuries happen. Can’t necessarily control it. Just unfortunate. I’m obviously going to miss some time and not be there for my team and that’s what hurts more than anything, especially after the start that we just put out there.”
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Even with Prescott on the field, the Cowboys struggled to move the ball against a stout Tampa Bay defense.
The offense could only put up 244 total yards with Prescott going 14-of-29 for 134 yards with an interception and getting sacked twice. Back-up quarterback Cooper Rush finished the game and didn’t have much more success.
After a serious ankle injury which saw him miss most of the 2020 season, Prescott was hoping for a healthy 2022, but sounded optimistic afterwards despite the injury.
“Obviously, just not what you want to hear, but it’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me,” Prescott said. “It’s just another bump in the road and I’ll keep moving forward. I’ll do everything that I can control to get myself back, to get myself better, help this team and be the best that I can in this role.”
Brady grinding it out
It wasn’t the most vintage Brady performance, but it was enough for the Bucs.
The 45-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl winner threw for 212 yards, as well as a touchdown and an interception in the defense-heavy game.
It was running back Leonard Fournette who was the driving force on offense for the Bucs, running for 127 yards on 21 carries.
“We were trying to take what they gave us,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said after the game.
“They gave us some things up front and Lenny (Fournette) did a heck of a job running hard and physical and finding the hole. I thought the offensive line did a great job blocking. It was a total team effort tonight.”
The Bucs’ strong defense kept the Cowboys offense in check, restricting Dallas to fewer to six points in a season opener for the first time since 1989.
The victory improves Brady’s personal record against the Cowboys to 7-0 and gives the 2020 Super Bowl winners the perfect start to a new season.