Tom Brady will always be Tom Brady. And NFL officiating will always be NFL officiating. Such was the case Thursday night as the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers ushered in the new season, with a Buccaneers' come-from-behind win over the Cowboys, 31-29 in the final minute of the game.
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There were several questions answered Thursday night. 1. Dak can still play, and play at a high level, 2. The offensive line is good, even without its best feature, Zack Martin, 3. The defense is better, but still needs work in the secondary and line.
One big question was raised, however: Whose fault was the loss?
The Cowboys No. 1b receiver, CeeDee Lamb, dropped passes. And he dropped a lot of passes. And he dropped important passes. What's wrong with CeeDee? First-game jitters? Sophomore year slump? We'll see. Is the loss Lamb's fault? Maybe.
The defensive line didn't sack Brady one single time, and he was rarely hurried by a Cowboys' defensive player. Even though Brady back pedaled into the pocket to throw the ball a ridiculous 50 times, his red, white, and pewter uniform remained clean. Is it the defense's fault? Maybe.
The officiating was sketchy at best. There were missed calls all over the field at various times of the game. One thing we must remember is it's the first game for the officials too. Much like the players, they're shaking off the rust and getting back into regular season mode.
But missed calls on either side of the ball can certainly impact the outcome of a game. There's no denying that. Was the missed offensive pass interference on Buccaneers' wide receiver Chris Godwin against Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis the reason the Cowboys lost? One would like to think it would've been a much different outcome, but still, maybe not.
Was the missed unsportsmanlike conduct call on Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David the reason? It's hard to believe seven officials on the field all missed this. Here's the rule: NFL Rulebook, Article 9: "No player may remove his helmet while on the playing field. Doing so will result in a 15-yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. Exceptions are during timeouts and between quarters."
After he tipped Dak's pass to Lamb on a third-and-six, a pass that most certainly would've been intercepted by teammate Mike Edwards, David ripped off his helmet in disgust and hammered it to the ground. That's a violation, and it went uncalled. Is that the reason the Cowboys lost? Maybe.
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what the reason is, or if we all agree on it. What matters is the Cowboys are back, Dak is back, the NFL is back, and the Cowboys were competitive until the bitter end of the opening game against the best player ever to play the game, and the best team the league has to offer in 2021. That's what we should all be focusing on.
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