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Brady leads Bucs on final drive to beat Cowboys in NFL season opener

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in a win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in a win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Tom Brady led a final-minute drive to put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in position for a game-winning field goal Thursday night to beat the Dallas Cowboys in dramatic fashion to open the 2021 NFL season.

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards, four scores and two interceptions in the 31-29 victory at Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium. Combined with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, the two 108 pass attempts.

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"We won and it's great," Brady told reporters after the game. "But we know it was far from perfect. We have to get back to work and clean a lot of stuff up."

Prescott completed 42 of 58 passes for three scores and an interception. He appeared in his first game since he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 last season.

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"We came up short, that's the bottom line," Prescott told reporters. "Obviously we fought hard. ... We will get better because of this one."

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Dallas took a 29-28 lead on a 48-yard field goal from kicker Greg Zuerlein with 1:29 left in the game.

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, needed just eight plays and 60 seconds to march the Bucs from their own 25-yard line to the Dallas 18. Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop eventually split the uprights from 36 yards out for the game-winning score.

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Both offenses started slow, with punts on their first drives. Brady later threw a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin to give the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead with 5:26 in the first quarter.

Prescott responded with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. He ended the possession with a 22-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

The teams exchanged punts on the next two drives before Brady led the Bucs to another score, connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski on a two-yard touchdown pass to give Tampa Bay a 14-7 edge.

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The Cowboys responded with a missed field goal on their next drive, but forced a Bucs fumble on the resulting possession. Prescott threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper five plays later, but Zuerlein missed the extra point and the Cowboys trailed by one.

Brady's first pass of the next drive was tipped and intercepted by Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs. Zuerlein ended the following drive with a 35-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 16-14 lead.

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Brady made a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown for the final score of the first half.

The Cowboys started the second half with a 13-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard field goal. Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis would pick off Prescott on the next Dallas drive.

Brady connected with Gronkowski for a second score four plays later to give Tampa Bay a 28-19 lead, before Prescott's Cowboys answered once again. The Cowboys star led a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, finding Cooper for a 21-yard score and cut the deficit to two.

Later, Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee forced a fumble on Tampa's next possession and Zuerlein kicked a 48-yard field goal to put Dallas ahead.

Brady, the future Hall of Famer, then engineered his first comeback drive of 2021.

Brown hauled in five catches for 121 yards and a score for the Bucs and Godwin totaled 105 yards and a score on nine catches. Gronkowski recorded eight grabs for 90 yards and two scores.

Cooper led the Cowboys with 13 catches for 139 yards and two scores and Lamb recorded seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for just 33 yards and 11 carries in the loss.

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"We got a lot to learn," Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told reporters. "I'm not pleased with the start of the game, but love the finish. Our guys are going to finish and going to win, but we can't put ourselves in that situation."

The Buccaneers (1-0) next host the Atlanta Falcons at 4:05 p.m. EDT on Sept. 19 and Dallas (0-1) travels to face the Los Angeles Chargers at 1:25 p.m. PDT at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

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