ARLINGTON-- Led by reserve quarterback Vincent Testaverde Jr, who was signed five days ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) scored 10 points in second half to beat the Dallas Cowboys 17-15 in their final game of the preseason.
Dallas (2-2) won the opening toss & chose to receive the ball first. The Cowboys started rookie Mike White at quarterback. White, who played at both USF & Western Kentucky, was able to complete his first pass of the game for a 17 yard completion to wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson. But three plays later, the Cowboys punted the ball away.
Tampa Bay, missing back-up quarterback Blaine Gabbert with a dlslocated left shoulder, sent Ryan Griffin out to take their first offensive snaps. But after picking up a first down with a pass to running back Dare Ogunbowale, Griffin's next pass was deflected & intercepted by cornerback Donovan Olumba, who then returned it 32 yards for the pick six. The extra point was missed by Cowboys kicker Kasey Redfern, keeping the score six to nothing.
On the next drive, with help mainly from running back Dare Ogunbowale, Griffin was able to move the ball into Dallas territory. But after a penalty plus a sack, a pass completion from Griffin to running back Andre Ellington on a third & 16 left the Buccaneers 5 yards short of a first down.
After a Bradley Pinion punt, the Cowboys got the ball back on their own five. On first down, White was sacked by Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett. White lost the football & fumble was recovered by linebacker Jack Cichy. That turnover helped the Buccaneers take the lead for the first time when, after a sack for a seven yard loss, Griffin found his favorite preseason target tight end Tanner Hudson in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown pass.
Trailing 7-6, the Cowboys were not able to move the football & the Buccaneers started their next drive inside Dallas territory. And with a third down conversion by Griffin on a pass to Ellington for 20 yards, the Buccaneers were in redzone territory, looking to score again. But on a second & 10 play, a pass by Griffin, intended for wide receiver Scotty Miller, was intercepted by safety Tyvis Powell.
With White throwing for 38 yards on the next drive, Dallas was able to move the ball near midfield. But after a sack on White by Cichy forced a long 3rd down conversion attempt, the Cowboys punted again.
Griffin finished the game completing 9 of his 11 passes throwing for 92 yards plus a touchdown. Strangely enough, his two incompletions turned out to be interceptions. And the Cowboys added their third interception of the game when Testaverde Jr, who replaced Griffin, had his second pass of the game intercepted by safety Donovan Wilson.
Getting the ball back near midfield, Dallas moved the ball into Buccaneers territory. White again was able to complete two passes to his wideouts, one to Devin Smith & another to Jalen Guyton. Add another completion to running back Mike Weber & White had the Cowboys inside the redzone.
Dallas committed an offensive pass interference penalty but another catch by Weber for 14 yards got the Cowboys close enough to take shots in the endzone. White's endzone attempts fell incomplete & the Cowboys settled for a 32 yard field goal by Redfern giving them their second lead of the game 9-7.
Tampa Bay received the second half kickoff & Testaverde registered his first completions of the preseason, one to running back Bruce Anderson & another to wide receiver Anthony Johnson. But a third down pass attempt to Johnson was incomplete, bringing kicker Matt Gay out & the rookie boomed a 53 yard field goal making the score 10-7.
Dallas got the ball back but went three & out. And Tampa Bay added to their lead, thanks to a 61 yard drive led by Testaverde & ending with Anderson running it in from the one yard line. The main play on the drive was an end around by wide receiver Spencer Schnell for 19 yards that was helped by a 15 yard face mask penalty, pushing the ball into the redzone.
Leading 17-9, the Buccaneers were back on defense & were on their heels until a fumble recovery by linebacker Farrington Huguenin in the endzone stopped the Cowboys opportunity to trim the deficit.
Dallas added another touchdown when quarterback Taryn Christion , who replaced White, hit Guyton with a sideline pass & the wide receiver broke one tackle then scampered down the right sideline for a 69 yard touchdown catch. Dallas went for the two point conversion, attempting to tie the score at 17, but Christion's pass to the right of the endzone was incomplete, keeping the score 17-15.
Tampa Bay will now focus on trimming their roster of 90 players to 53 by the NFL deadline. which is Saturday at 4 pm & will continue to get ready for week one of the regular season when they host the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on September 8th, with kickoff scheduled for 4:25 pm.