FRISCO, Texas – Leave enough time on the clock, and Tom Brady will do what he did in the final 1:24 Thursday night. The Bucs' 31-29 victory over the Cowboys was the 49th fourth-quarter comeback in Brady's future Hall of Fame career.
Despite the GOAT's heroics, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was encouraged by the revamped defense's performance against the defending Super Bowl champions.
"What I see is a defense that's going to get better," Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. "We have the athletes to get better, we have the scheme to get better. We were playing quality competition. I was really proud to see the good things that occurred during the ball game."
Brady did throw for 379 yards and four touchdowns, and the Bucs' receivers were a tough cover, with Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown combining for 226 yards and two of Brady's TDs.
But perhaps the Dallas defense's biggest weakness last year – stopping the run – looked like more of a strength Thursday based on a small sample size. Tampa Bay only had 14 rushing attempts and gained 52 yards – a 3.7 average with a long of 7.
For Jones, that's a promising development. So is the offseason arrival of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and the roster help that should be on the way in the coming weeks.
Starting defensive tackle Neville Gallimore is expected to return from an elbow injury at some point this season. Rookie cornerback and second-round draft pick Kelvin Joseph (groin) can come off the Reserve/Injured list after Week 3. Veteran safety Malik Hooker was inactive Thursday after limited preseason work, but the club believes he can be an impact player on defense coming off last year's Achilles' injury.
And Jones liked the fight he saw from the young players on defense, notably first-round draft pick Micah Parsons, who played 51 of 65 defensive snaps and posted seven tackles with a quarterback hit and a pass breakup.
"Micah was close last night on a few things," Jones said. "He'll get there on some inevitably.
"When you're a young player and you actually get those snaps, you go right before everybody's eyes. You grow. The problem is the price you pay as you're growing. Well, these young guys are going to do that for us and this scheme is going to become even more doable for these guys because they're going to have more time in it.
"We've got upside, serious upside, on the defense. It's the one of the very best things, that if you had to have a positive you can come out with. We're going to get better defensively and we didn't play bad against a good team (Thursday) night."