Brady's Bucs pip Cowboys in NFL opener

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Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't flinch.

Down two points with 1:24 to go in the kickoff to the NFL season, the defending Super Bowl champions were confident their 44-year-old quarterback would find a way to win again Thursday night.

It's simply what Brady, who threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys, does.

"There was no doubt that we're going to win the game with him," coach Bruce Arians said. "It's just who's going to make plays."

With seats in a NFL stadium filled to full capacity for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ryan Succop won it with a 36-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining. Brady set it up with a last-minute drive directed on the same field where the Bucs became the first team to play and win a Super Bowl in its home stadium seven months ago.

It was the 49th game-winning the three-time NFL MVP has led in the fourth-quarter or overtime during regular season. That's third on the all-time list behind Peyton Manning (54) and Drew Brees (53), who are both retired.

"There's obviously a lot to clean up," Brady said after completing 32 of 50 passes with two interceptions.

The Bucs, hoping to become the first team to repeat as champions since Brady led the 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots to consecutive titles, turned the ball over four times.

"We won," the quarterback said, "but we know it was far from perfect."

For Brady, a seven-time champion, it was the 300th regular-season start in a sparkling 22-year career - a record for a quarterback. The 44-year-old also joined Drew Brees as the only players to throw for 300-plus yards in a game 100 times.

Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown caught first-half touchdown passes, and the Bucs (1-0) extended their winning streak to nine games dating to last December.

Brady's second TD pass of the night to Gronkowski put the defending champs up 28-19. Succop's field goal came after Greg Zuerlein put the Cowboys ahead with a 48-yarder with 1:24 to go.

Dak Prescott threw for 403 yards and three TDs for Dallas in his first game since suffering a severe injury ankle that ended his 2020 season after just five games.

The Cowboys have never beaten Brady, who improved to 6-0 against them, with five of the victories coming during his historic 20-year run with the New England Patriots.

But Prescott, with help from a revamped Dallas defense that forced a fumble and intercepted a pass that glanced off Leonard Fournette's hands to set up a touchdown and field goal, pushed the defending champs to the limit before a mostly mask-less crowd.

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