Sports fans saw the Dallas Cowboys training camp and preseason in the reality sports documentary Hard Knocks.
The show tackled the concerns that loomed over the franchise leading into the 2021 NFL season.
But while the show gave unprecedented access to the proceedings during the team’s offseason, it did not answer one crucial question.
Are the Cowboys ready to compete?
The Cowboys were 9.5-point underdogs in most sportsbooks leading into their matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That's a W 😎 pic.twitter.com/tvX6py5iMP
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 10, 2021
On a positive note, that’s not how the game unfolded.
Dallas had a chance to win their season opener on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions.
Losing to a strong contender by two points is a positive result they can build on over the coming weeks.
Here are other strong points in the Cowboys’ commendable kickoff performance.
3. A Disciplined Performance
The Buccaneers won, but the Cowboys looked like the more polished team.
Tampa Bay got away with an opening day win even if they committed more penalties.
The defending champions had 11 penalties for 106 yards while the Cowboys had eight for 55.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 9, 2021
All those yards count in a close game like this one, and it helped them stay toe-to-toe against a favored opponent.
But you really can’t ask for more from Dallas.
If they can maintain, if not lessen, their infractions, their chances of making the playoffs will increase.
2. That Receiving Corps Needs A Collective Moniker
The Cowboys faithful are hoping that Michael Gallup‘s injury isn’t serious.
He left the game with four catches for 36 yards.
Having him for the entire game might have been a tall order for Tampa’s defensive backs.
Both receivers had over 100 receiving yards and an incredible touchdown catch.
Amari Cooper through 3rd quarter:
— PFF (@PFF) September 10, 2021
Lamb had seven receptions for 107 yards, including a 22-yard go-route completion for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Cooper had 13 catches for 139 and two scores, including a 21-yard reception on a seam route against the Buccaneers’ Ross Cockrell.
Cooper and Lamb put the NFL on notice with their opening day performance.
It’s up to their future opponents to catch up or pay the price.
1. Dak Is Back!
On the field against Brady, he did look like the Kansas City quarterback, and then some.
It’s like Dak Prescott never had an ankle or a shoulder injury.
He picked up where he abruptly left off last season with another strong outing.
Prescott had a better game than Brady stats-wise.
RT if you always believed in Dak Prescott
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 10, 2021
The former Mississippi State standout completed a career-high 42 passes for 403 yards, one interception, and three touchdowns.
Prescott has eight 400-yard passing games for the Cowboys while all other Dallas quarterbacks combine for nine.
He showed that he is in excellent physical condition by swinging for the fences with some of his passes.
The other NFC East teams must prepare for the aerial onslaught that Prescott will unleash during their divisional matchups.