W2W4: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
8:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The home opener has arrived, with the Cowboys taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We preview:

The series: The Cowboys lead the all-time series 12-3 and have won the last four meetings, including last season's meeting in Tampa Bay, 31-15. Of the 15 regular-season meetings, eight have been held in Dallas, where the Cowboys have a 7-1 mark. Nine of the games have been decided by double digits and two by three or more touchdowns.

Romo has success against Bucs: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 3-0 lifetime against the Bucs, having completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 908 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has a 144.8 quarterback rating against the Bucs. Part of the reason why Romo has success is the Bucs have been pretty bad since he became the starting quarterback during the 2006 season.

Home openers and home records: First, the good news: The Cowboys are 35-16-1 lifetime in home openers. The bad news: The Cowboys have lost two of their last three but defeated Washington, 18-16, last season. Cowboys Stadium isn't an imposing facility, which is apparent from the 13-11 regular-season home record. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett downplayed the home record at the $1.3 billion palace, but several players said you have to take command of the home field. The Cowboys are just 2-2 in September home games at the stadium.

Who's not playing: The Cowboys will not have nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), center Phil Costa (back) or defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee). Safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) is doubtful. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan revealed that outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is playing with a health issue. Ware practiced this week with no reported problems, but he was limited early in the season with a hamstring injury. Tampa Bay's staring cornerback Eric Wright (back) is probable for the game.

To kneel or not to kneel: As the New York Giants were taking a knee to close out last week's victory, Bucs coach Greg Schiano ordered his team to tackle quarterback Eli Manning during the kneel down. That prompted Giants coach Tom Coughlin to scream his displeasure at Schiano after the game. If the Cowboys are in similar situation Sunday, will Schiano tell his team to do it again?

Cowboys meet Mark Baron: Many draft experts projected the Alabama safety would get drafted by the Cowboys, and with good reason. The Cowboys safeties struggled last season, but the team instead made a move to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne from LSU. The Cowboys face Barron, a strong safety, on S unday. Barron is credited with 13 total tackles -- nine solos -- by the Buccaneers coaching staff. Barron has also broken up four passes.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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