After blowing a 14-point second half lead and suffering a crushing 41-34 loss at the hands of the New York Giants last Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found themselves in a familiar situation – facing an NFC East team coming off a bad loss.
This Sunday, the Bucs travel to Dallas to take on the 1-1 Cowboys. We sat down with Cowboys 101 Editor Nick Sharp to get the lowdown on the Bucs' next opponent.
Buccaneers101.com: The Buccaneers and cornerback Morris Claiborne were linked pretty heavily to each other during the NFL Draft. What have you seen out of Claiborne so far and what role do you see talented rookie having in Sunday's game?
Nick Sharp: Morris Claiborne has done all you could ask him to do up to this point. He has kept his assignment out of the endzone in both games so far, and done a very nice job of keeping plays in front of him and making the tackle. No interceptions to this point, but those will come. He seems to be settling in and getting more comfortable, and with comfort should come aggression. Look for Claiborne to start making some plays on the ball this week. Whether or not he ends up with the interception or if the receiver ends up sprinting the other way with the ball remains to be seen. We hope for the first one.
Buccaneers101.com: Quarterback Tony Romo has had great success against the Bucs and led the Cowboys to victories in all three games he has started against them. Do you expect that trend to continue or will Dallas lean on running back Demarco Murray?
Nick Sharp: After seeing what Eli Manning did to Tampa Bay's secondary last week, we think Romo will take his shots early and often. As long as he can avoid throwing the ball to the players with pirate flags on their helmets, he should be just fine. Jason Witten had a case of the dropsies last week, but we look for him to come back with intensity and go off for a big day. While everyone is worrying about the big names on the outside, Witten should have a field day playing in the middle.
If the Cowboys jump out to a lead, that's when Demarco will go to work. Those short gains start turning into 7- and 8-yard runs, and then before you know it, the game is over. He shortens the game better than any back we've seen in recent memory, and runs harder and stronger than any too (including Marion Barber). As we saw in Week 1 against the Giants, the play is never over until he is on the ground.
Buccaneers101.com: The Cowboys win if…
Nick Sharp: Demarco Murray gets his carries. It's pretty simple, really. When he has a good day, like he did against the Giants (20 carries, 131 yards), the Cowboys win. If he doesn't get the ball enough or the lanes aren't there, like against Seattle (12 carries, 44 yards), the Dallas offense struggles and they lose. The team is 6-0 when Demarco Murray has 20+ carries, and 4-0 when he has 100+ yards. While we do trust Romo in 2-minute and end of game situations, we would much rather trust Murray to pound the rock and win the game.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.