TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers only managed one trip into the red zone Sunday afternoon. They made it count in a crazy ending that sent the Dallas Cowboys to their first seven-game losing streak since 1989.
The Bucs got a 1-yard bootleg touchdown run by quarterback Jameis Winston with 54 seconds remaining to defeat the Cowboys 10-6 at Raymond James Stadium, making up for a day filled with missed opportunities by the Bucs’ offense.
The winning score came one play after Winston fumbled the ball leaping over a defender on a touchdown attempt, but a Dallas holding call in the end zone bailed the Bucs out.
“Right away we saw one of our guys was held,” said Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith. “It was a good call. Of course I thought it was a good call.”
On the next play, Winston executed the fake perfectly and strolled into the end zone for the only touchdown in the game.
“I don’t want to talk about the officiating,” said Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. “We played for 60 minutes and they did a good job offensively at critical moments. They did a good job defensively, We didn’t do enough to win this ballgame, so that’s the story of the game.”
Dallas (2-7) led at halftime on a pair of field goals but didn’t score in the second half.
Quarterback Tony Romo is expected to play next week for the first
time since the team’s last win in Week 2.
“I’m extremely excited to have him back, but at the same time we still have to get to work regardless,” said Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant. “We are going to keep fighting, we are going to continue pushing. Really have no choice so nobody is quitting here. We’re going to keep on going.”
After second-half drives that started at their own 20-, 8-, 4- and 8-yard lines, the Bucs began their final drive at their own 44 with four minutes remaining thanks to a crucial defensive stop as Bryant dropped a third-and-1 pass, forcing the Cowboys to punt from deep in their own territory.
“We had a chance one-on-one on the outside. (Dallas quarterback) Matt (Cassel) gave Dez a chance, unfortunately we were not able to make that play,” Garrett said.
Bryant was targeted 12 times, but only caught five passes for 45 yards. The Cowboys also ran for just 42 yards, the first time they have been held under 100 yards since gaining 80 in the season opener.
The Bucs (4-5) used 11 plays in the drive that produced the touchdown. Winston was 4-for-5 on the drive for 37 yards, including a 17-yarder to tight end Brandon Myers to give the Bucs a first down at the 16 with two minutes left.
Buccaneers running back Charles Sims caught a pass for 6 yards on the next play, ran for 5 more, and Winston, who finished 22 of 39 for 264 yards, did the rest.
“Every week I try my best to get better to try and help the team out,” said Winston, who also leads the team in rushing touchdowns with four. “I started out with a lot of turnovers to hurt the team, lost us those games, but now I’m just trying to get better.”
Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, who has struggled with drops this season and let a few slip away Sunday as well, finished with eight catches for 126 yards.
Dallas had one last chance, but Cassel’s throw for Bryant in the end zone was picked off by safety Bradley McDougald, his second interception of the year.