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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Early turnover helps set tone

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM
TAMPA -

It didn't take long Saturday night for the Buccaneers to assume the top spot in a category they'd like to avoid.

QB Josh Freeman fumbled only four snaps into the game, marking Tampa Bay's 32nd turnover of the season. After tying a franchise record with seven giveaways at Jacksonville last week in a 41-14 setback, the Bucs snapped a tie with the Eagles for the NFL lead in turnovers.

While going 10-6 last season, the Bucs turned the ball over only 19 times.

One play after scrambling up the middle for 25 yards, Freeman was stripped by Anthony Spencer, with fellow LB Bradie James recovering the fumble at the Dallas 44.

Tony Romo then directed a seven-play drive, capped by an 8-yard scoring flip to Miles Austin.

That was the first of four long, first-half scoring marches by the Cowboys, who were represented by thousands of fans at sold-out Raymond James Stadium.

Dallas rolled up 19 first downs and 279 yards by intermission, compared to only one first down and 55 yards by the Bucs in their home finale.

Finding a positive

With the Bucs trailing 28-0, Tampa Bay supporters finally found something to cheer about early in the third quarter.

Rookie DE Adrian Clayborn continued his stellar season by sacking Romo and forcing a fumble that was scooped up by second-year LB Dekoda Watson.

With CB Ronde Barber serving as an escort, the former Florida State standout dashed four yards into the end zone for his first pro touchdown and first NFL fumble recovery.

Coming on strong

In his first full NFL season, Bucs WR Dezmon Briscoe is making an impact.

Briscoe, signed off Cincinnati's practice squad just before the 2010 season opener, took over the club lead with his fourth touchdown catch. By grabbing a 13-yard pass from Freeman late in the third quarter, Briscoe continued a late-season surge.

All of his scoring receptions have come in the past eight games. Briscoe made his first pro start Saturday night, filling in for Arrelious Benn, inactive with a concussion.

On the board

Dallas OLB DeMarcus Ware has long been known as one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, but he hadn't registered a sack against Tampa Bay in three previous meetings.

That changed early in the second quarter when Ware lined up wide against Donald Penn and beat Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl left tackle around the edge before dropping Freeman for a 6-yard sack.

Ware's 16th takedown of the season was followed by safety Orlando Scandrick's 4-yard sack, leading to a Tampa Bay punt and an 89-yard touchdown drive by the Cowboys, highlighted by a 38-yard run by Felix Jones.

Extra points

Bucs CB Aqib Talib, who didn't play against the Jaguars, re-injured his hamstring in the opening quarter and didn't return. … Rays president Matt Silverman attended the game, which also attracted former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal and ex-Bucs RB Mike Alstott. … The Cowboys converted on six of seven third-down opportunities in the opening half. … Tampa Bay has been outscored 95-34 in the first quarter this season. … The Bucs finish the season against Carolina and Atlanta on the road, where Tampa Bay is 1-5 this season. The Bucs tied a franchise mark last year by finishing 6-2 away from home.

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