A long time ago, when I first became a scout in the NFL, I learned a very valuable lesson: Never be disappointed in an ugly win. Winning is the most important thing and all that really matters.
This was not going to be an easy game for the Cowboys. Leading into this matchup, I had observed a much different team in the Buccaneers than the Cowboys had played last December in Tampa.
When things are not going well offensively, sometimes you have to lean on your defense to get the job done. Rob Ryan's crew played outstanding against the Buccaneers and won this football game. Sure, give some credit to quarterback Tony Romo and his receivers for hanging in there and making some plays, but the other side of the ball is where the difference was made.
The Cowboys' defense was once again put in a terrible situation to start the game with an early Romo interception, but after that Buccaneers touchdown drive, Dallas only allowed a field goal the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was harassed all day by the front seven of the Cowboys. You can't say enough about the effort of Sean Lissemore, Josh Brent and Jason Hatcher. To be honest, the Buccaneers are a physical offensive line, and after the Cowboys' problems last week against the Seahawks, I expected the worst. But this front didn't crack, and with the help of the linebackers, were able to hold things together.
In the secondary, it was a huge loss with the injury to Barry Church, but Ryan refused to let his players use that as an excuse. Instead, guys like Danny McCray and Mana Silva were able to step up and fill the void. Ryan's use of Brandon Carr at safety was a stroke of genius, combined with Mike Jenkins, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick not giving up anything on the outside. For the last two games, the focus of the Buccaneers' offense was on the play-making ability of wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who left Cowboys Stadium w