Our Brief, Obligatory Tom Brady Section
Let’s get this out of the way right now.
Obviously, every single sports news entity out there is plastering the internet with Tom Brady talk after his early departure from the 2022-23 postseason. We’ll discuss a few of the more notable Brady moments from the game here, but will largely focus on other aspects of the Cowboys-Bucs blowout that we attended as a 3-person Wagerbop game-picking crew.
There were a couple of firsts for Tom Brady Monday night – which is pretty exceptional considering how long he has played. The first, he threw a red zone pick – his first as a Buc.
Tampa Bay was already behind the 8-ball a bit after allowing Dallas to jump out to an early 6-0 lead (33.9% win probability). Never fear, Tom Brady is here. Brady led Tampa right down the field on the ensuing possession and was seemingly about to take a 7-6 lead.
That is, until he floated a duck into the back of the end zone that was effortlessly picked off by Jayron Kearse. This was Brady’s first red zone interception as a member of the Buccaneers. The throw … was just awful. Terrible. He looked scared, honestly.
The other first was the amount of passes Todd Bowles asked his 45-year-old quarterback to throw – 66! 66 passes left Tom Brady’s hand Monday and only 35 of them reached a Bucs receiver without hitting the ground.
We discussed at length in our analysis of this matchup how one of the Bucs’ keys to winning was limiting the pass attempts for poor old Tom Brady. Todd Bowles doesn’t read Wagerbop, apparently. 66 passes was a new career high for the GOAT. Is that leaving on a high note or is it just plain embarrassing?
Tom’s previous career high in pass attempts came in Week 15 of 2012 against the 49ers. He threw 65 passes that day. His Patriots lost 41-34.
Your Guide to Watching a Buccaneers Game at Raymond James Stadium
The three musketeers of myself, Tim and Brittany attended a Bucs game at Raymond James for the first time Monday. The following are our thoughts on the experience.
Here’s where we were sitting:
And here is what the field looked like from our seats. Not bad at all!
We tried our best to get the full Raymond James experience – from finding the best parking to testing out the local eateries to assessing the fan base from an unbiased perspective.
We found that the food available outside the stadium was far better (and cheaper) than the mediocre stadium food. Some stadiums are renowned for their unique culinary offerings and progressive takes on classic ballpark fare. Raymond James is not one of these stadiums.
The food still gets an 8/10, though, because of the awesome mix of sports bars and street vendors outside of the stadium. Better get there early, though. We arrived around 4:30pm for an 8:15pm kickoff, and it was already jammed packed for blocks.
Raymond James has the 6th-smallest capacity of any NFL stadium at 65,890. This means no seat is a bad seat. We bought cheap tickets way up in the nosebleeds and felt we had an amazing view of the field.
With large video boards in both endzones and zero obstructed-view seats, it is a pleasurable viewing experience from anywhere inside the stadium. We give the views at Raymond James a 9/10.
We were not too impressed with the parking situation in Tampa, although we’ve seen much worse. Raymond James is not an urban stadium, so the parking is a bit better than you’d find in a larger city. However, it still took us a while to find a lot we felt comfortable in (some were laughably small), which ultimately required a lot of driving around and then a long walk. 6/10.
The fans gave up early. It was sad to see. The energy levels were near-zero already by halftime and the score was only 18-0 with the Bucs getting the ball to start the 3rd quarter.
We’d be more willing to give the fans a pass for not being engaged in a blowout had the Jaguars not just completed a 27-point comeback earlier in the weekend.
Here are the home fans filing out already at the beginning of the 4th quarter … of a playoff game … when they have Tom Brady under center:
Sorry Tampa, but you’re too bandwagon-y. We literally saw a guy take off his Tom Brady jersey midgame and announce that he longer likes the GOAT. 4/10 … and that’s generous.
Playing NFL Jersey Bingo at Raymond James Stadium
While hanging out on the crowded streets and packed bars outside of Raymond James and while filtering through the concourse, we played a little game with ourselves to see how many jerseys/shirts/hats from various NFL teams we could find.
This is akin to playing license plate bingo on a long road trip. We found 11. Here they are:
1) there were several and each was a Tom Brady jersey
2) no clue … possibly checking out a potential NFC Championship game opponent
3) you’d think all Packers fans would be in hiding after being swept by Detroit
4) I think he was lost
5) semi-local team, but no Jaguars jerseys surprisingly
6) really no clue on this one
7) proof that there are Steelers fans everywhere
10) only me, haha
11) again, maybe checking out a potential future opponent
The Elephant in the Room – Those Brett Maher Missed Extra Points
Dak Prescott Monday night? Awesome! Dalton Schultz? Amazing! The D-line? Elite! Brett Maher? One of the worst playoff performances in NFL history.
It’s rare for a kicker to have a disaster of a game in the postseason and see his team advance to the next round. Ask the Bears, usually it’s game over. It’s even rarer to win by 3 scores when your kicker misses 4 kicks.
They were all extra points. Some would say this is good because it meant the Cowboys only left 4 points on the table. Others would say this is worse than 4 missed field goals because continually blundering something that is supposed to be automatic can decimate your confidence.
Bucs fans rejoiced when Maher missed that first one wide right. The game remained 6-0, and Tampa felt the momentum swing back to their side slightly after conceding the opening score.
The stadium was just as loud when Maher missed the second one – also wide right – to keep it at 12-0. This is our chance to get back in it, they thought. When Dallas scored that third touchdown to take an 18-0 lead, it was clear Tampa did not come to play.
That third TD came right before halftime and took all of the air out of Raymond James Stadium. The fact that Maher yanked his 3rd extra-point attempt wide left didn’t even bear much significance on the game at that point. It was just funny – one small thing that Bucs fans could use to jab back at obnoxious Dallasites.
It could be worse. It could be 21-0, is all the home crowd could come up with to console themselves during a very red halftime show from the Bucs dancers.
This is exactly why the Bucs fans get a rating of 4 for their showing Monday night. They gave up pretty early. Look at what happened just 200 miles up the road in Jacksonville 2 nights prior. The Jags – who basically have a rookie quarterback – were down 20 at half. The fans didn’t give up. They believed.
Tampa Bay – who has the greatest quarterback of all time – gave up. Raymond James was dead from halftime on. The only people making noise were the Cowboys fans (who constituted around 30% of the crowd). It was actually beneficial in the second half having so many visiting fans in the stands making noise. Kept things mildly interesting.
Maher Misses Another Extra Point in the Second Half
You have to wonder if Dak Prescott and Brett Maher had words in the locker room during halftime. Dallas’ franchise quarterback was not doing a great job of masking his frustration after Maher missed that 3rd kick late in the 2nd quarter. Here is a great screenshot ESPN captured from their telecast. You can barely see the 18-0 score peeking out in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Maher Misses His Record-Setting 4th Extra Point
Tampa got the ball first in the second half. Surely Tom will drive right down and narrow the gap, right? Nope. How about a poor man’s touchdown drive? AKA a 3-and-out.
Only 49 seconds had ticked off the clock in the 3rd quarter and Dallas already had the ball back – up 18 points. The ‘Boys began to drive again, and the anticipation in Raymond James grew. Not because this drive could determine the outcome of the game. No, Bucs fans had conceded that long ago.
Anticipation was growing because we’d get to see Brett Maher again if Dallas could punch it in. The 6’1 183-pound Fremont, Nebraska native was the only player in navy blue we really cared to watch anymore. We got our wish.
Here is a beautifully-made chart showing Maher’s 5 extra-point attempts, including the one he finally nailed in the 4th quarter. That lone make brought about a super loud, sarcastic cheer – one of my favorite fan traditions in sports. Usually, that move is reserved for baseball pitchers who finally get one over the plate after 8-straight balls. I guess this is the football equivalent.
Will Brett Maher Be Kicking Against San Francisco on Sunday?
Dallas won the game going away Monday night, but Maher’s 4 misses are obviously concerning. By the way, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that no kicker in NFL history has ever missed 4 extra points in a game. Congrats, Brett! You set a new record. Put your initials on the high-score list.
Dak must’ve been told he needed to clear the air after showing visible frustration toward his kicker so he took to Twitter to announce his unwavering support of “Money” Maher.
Dak Prescott sticks up for Brett Maher:
“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan… I just played like s— a week ago”
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 17, 2023
Let’s not forget that this was the same kicker who nailed back-to-back 60-yard attempts in the waning seconds of the 1st half in Minneapolis in Week 11 and was perfect from inside 40 yards in 2022. He was the GOAT. Now he’s a lowercase goat.
When asked postgame about his plan at kicker for the Divisional Round at San Francisco, Dallas HC Mike McCarthy announced the Cowboys are “going to forge ahead” with Maher. We’ll see how that works. Dallas did sign a new kicker – Tristan Vizcaino – to the practice squad this week as insurance.
Can you imagine the decision McCarthy would be facing if Maher were to miss his first kick Sunday in Santa Clara? Sorry Brett, but I think we’re all kind of rooting for that.
Semi-Scorigami and Other Rare Happenings in the Cowboys-Bucs Game
Scorigami is the art of creating unique NFL scores. 20-17 or 21-14 games occur all the time, but when is the last time two NFL teams played to a 25-12 decision … or 15-11?
We’ll tell ya! There have been three 25-12 games in pro football history – the latest between the Colts and Bucs in November of 2015. That 15-11 score, it has never happened. Not once. Trying to create a 15-11 game is Scorigami – a real work of art.
Brett Maher’s missed extra points and the Bucs’ initial failed 2-point conversion attempt were bright flares signaling that some Scoregami was in progress. Somehow, through the smoke, we emerged with a very common final score of 31-14.
No Scorigami tonight … or was there? 31-14 is not a special score at all. Monday’s game was the 91st NFL contest all-time to finish 31-14. The unique thing about this particular 31-14 score is that there was only 1 extra point made total between the 2 sides. 1 from Dallas. None from Tampa.
The first-ever 31-14 game in NFL history was played between the Chicago Bears (31) and Milwaukee Badgers (14) back in 1924. As is typically the case in 31-14 games, the Bears scored 4 touchdowns with 4 extra points plus a field goal. The Badgers scored a pair of touchdowns with an extra point after each. Pretty standard.
There was nothing standard about how Dallas and Tampa Bay arrived at 31-14 Monday night. Tampa got there with a failed 2-point conversion and then a successful one on the 2nd touchdown. Dallas kicker Brett Maher was 1-5 in extra-point attempts.
In each of the previous ninety 31-14 contests, multiple extra points have been kicked – usually 6. Monday night was the first 31-14 game in NFL history with 1 or fewer made extra point.
No Field Goal for the Cowboys on Monday Night
Because Maher missed 4 extra points, the Cowboys’ lack of field goals flew under the radar. No one realizes this is nearly as rare as the 31-14 score with 1 extra point total.
Plenty of NFL teams throughout history have scored exactly 31 points in a game, but very few have done so without the help of a single field goal. Dallas achieved a score of 31 with 5 touchdowns and 1 extra point. No 3-pointers.
In NFL history, a grand total of 3 other teams have accomplished this – 31 points on the dot without a single field goal. The first time it happened was in 1929 – a timeless football matchup between the host New York Giants and the visiting Frankford Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets were Philadelphia’s original NFL team – in existence until 1931. They are a totally separate franchise from the Eagles who were founded in 1933. Even though they aren’t really connected, imagine the throwback possibilities if the Eagles are looking to get cheeky one of these Sundays.
Frankford is not the protagonist in this story, the Giants are. New York scored 31 points in front of a crowd of 20,000 at the Polo Grounds without settling for a single field goal – the first time that had been done.
|Snitz Snyder (NYG) 4-yard rush TD||6-0 NYG|
|Ray Flaherty (NYG) 15-yard TD catch||12-0 NYG|
|Jack Hagerty (NYG) ??-yard TD catch||18-0 NYG|
|Len Sedbrook (NYG) 10-yard TD catch||24-0 NYG|
|Lyle Munn 1-point conversion catch (NYG)||25-0 NYG|
|Len Sedbrook (NYG) 1-yard rush TD||31-0 NYG|
|credit to ProFootballReference||Final 31-0 NYG|
So apparently there were shorter 2-point-style conversions for 1 point available to teams in 1929. This is common today in 8-man football at the high school level, but is completely foreign to the pro game.
I love how ghetto stat keeping was back then. No one happened to catch how long Jack Hagerty’s touchdown catch was in the 2nd quarter. It will forever remain a mystery.
Did fans walking away from the Polo Grounds that day know they had witnessed history? Probably not. It would be another 15 years until another team (the ’44 Redskins) would score 31 points with no field goals.
Before Monday night, the ’98 Pittsburgh Steelers were the most recent team to score exactly 31 with no 3-pointers. They did this in a losing effort at Tennessee in the host’s last season as the Oilers before they would change their team name to Titans.
The Steelers were getting run off the field – down 34-7 early in the 4th quarter. A 3-yard Courtney Hawkins TD reception gave Pittsburgh life, and HC Bill Cowher decided to go for 2 and attempt to cut the lead to 19, which they did.
On Pittsburgh’s next touchdown, Cowher went for 2 a second time, again successfully, to make it 41-23. One last garbage-time score and a third 2-point conversion put the final at 41-31 – marking only the 3rd time in history a team settled at 31 points without trotting out the field goal unit.
Neither Dallas nor Tampa Bay Kicked a Field Goal, and That is Also Historic
45 points were scored in Monday night’s Cowboys-Bucs game. That’s quite a few considering there was only 1 extra point kicked in the entire contest and 0 field goals. This has to be rare, right? Yes, it certainly is.
Monday’s strange game became just the 2nd in NFL history in which the total points scored was 45 or greater and yet 1 kick or fewer (of any kind) was successfully made. The other? The infamous 2013 snow game between Detroit and Philadelphia.
Due to the extreme conditions on the field that day, no one kicked. Teams went for 2 on every single touchdown that day – except for once when the Eagles tried an XP but couldn’t hit it.
One of these 45-point-1-kick-or-fewer games was born of the most novel, harsh setting for an NFL game imaginable. The other was on a calm, clear night in the 2nd-most-Southern pro football stadium in America.