This past weekend we witnessed our team, the Dallas Cowboys, walk into Qwest field and get their butts kicked. The Seattle Seahawks are an athletic, fast, powerful, and physical team. Their fans are loud, and bold, and they feed of the success of the team on the field.
I feel like, lost in the commotion from this loss is the fact that the Cowboys are still a good football team, and they still have good coaches. Earlier today I thought of an analogy for the way the game played out, and figured I would share it with my group of esteemed fellow fans.
Check it out after the jump...
When I look back at the game, I think of the movie Black Hawk Down, and the situation that the American soldiers faced (not saying football is like war). Stick with me here as I talk through the situations that play out in the movie and see if you can relate it back to the game.
The American soldiers went into Mogadishu, Somalia with a mission to accomplish. They had a plan for how to execute their mission, and they went in ready to do so. But, before they could get the plan into place, a chopper was taken out, and as more and more Somalians became aware of the attack by the U.S. the town became like a giant beehive, swarming all around them. Before they had the chance to recover from chopper #1 going down, chopper #2 hits the ground, and by now the entire city is in an uproar. Every time an American was injured, or a helicopter went down, the Somalians got more and more bold and confident, and before long the objective of the mission switched from detaining the people they went in to capture, to getting as many soldiers out alive as possible. Many of the soldiers hunkered down and waited for things to settle down, until they could get assistance to help them get out of the city.
When Felix Jones lined up in the end zone to return the opening kickoff, I know the Cowboys had a plan. They were going to go out, take the ball first and attack the Seahawks. Seattle likes to put 8 guys in the box and play a single high safety (Cover 1, Cover 3). I'm sure the plan was to attack down the seams of the defense to manipulate that single high safety and gain big chunks of yardage, until they are forced to move the 2nd safety over the top which opens up lanes in the run game. If you can get chunks of yardage and score points early, you get ahead and take Seattle's best player, Marshawn Lynch, out of the game and force a rookie QB to beat you.
However, when Felix fumbles the opening kickoff it starts to stir the crowd. The Seattle players went nuts, and the crowd followed suit. They gained a ton of confidence because the ball had already begun bouncing their way. Even though the defense was able to hold up and force a field goal, a team like Seattle was already out of the blocks. When Romo and the offense came onto the field for the next series, they could continue sticking to the game plan, spotting a team 3 points isn't a huge deal, they could make that up, especially with the level of QB play we've seen recently around here. However, when your most reliable option in the passing game drops a ball on 3rd down to force a punt, it inspires more confidence from the Seahawks, and their crowd. You can recover from a 3 and out on your opening possession, but...
When Seattle blocked the punt and recovered it for a TD, and a 10-0 lead with less than 5 minutes off the game clock, the place was nuts. The second helicopter had been gunned down, and the game had barely even started. Then Witten runs a bad route, and Romo tries to get the ball to him in the scramble situation, and the CB from the other side of the field slides over and picks it off, it just kept building. Romo, did do a good job however, of working the Cowboys back into the game, and I was relieved to go in to the half only down 6 points.
But then the second half continued like the first. Every dropped ball presented an opportunity for the fans, and the Seattle players to get more worked up, and more confident, every major break in the entire game had gone their way, Then with about 13 minutes left on the clock when Golden Tate delivered his now infamous block on Sean Lee, and dog crawled across the field and pointed at his name on his jersey, the place was in a frenzy.
In the end it became too much for the Cowboys. The defense played too many snaps in the 2nd half because the offense couldn't sustain a drive, and the Seahawks had a lead and a great RB, and just slammed him into the gut of the Cowboy's defense until they finally caved.
However, a bit of perspective for us as fans.
A) The defense only gave up 17 points (take away the 3 from the fumble, and the 7 from the blocked punt). That's good enough to give your team a chance to win.
B) If you want to blame it on the coaches, remember the fact that several of the drops happened when players were open and had opportunities to make plays (see Witten up the seam), as a coach your job is to put your guys in position to come up big, the Cowboys just didn't catch the big pass when they needed to, in order to sustain a drive, or get in scoring range.
C) This game was within reach until the Russel Wilson Scramble/Golden Tate block. That was the play that sealed the game in my opinion. At the time it was 20-7 with 13:18 left in the game, and the Seattle had a 2nd and 12, with the ball at their own 22. When Bruce Carter gets called for a patty cake personal foul, and Golden Tate doesn't get called for a personal foul, it is almost a 40 yard swing in field position and a first down. If that is reversed, its a 15 yard penalty from the spot of the foul, which I believe was 5-7 yards from the LOS. That would push the Seahawks to 3rd and about 20 from their own 15. Which is an obvious passing situation, Russell Wilson only completed 2 passes of 20 or more yards in the game, one of which was the 22 yard TD pass, and the other was to Golden Tate for 20 yards on a 1st down play in the 2nd Quarter. They averaged only 6 yards per pass play. If you get them in a 3rd and 20 position there, you will likely force a punt, and take over between your 40 yard line and midfield, with 12:30 to play down 20-7. If you can put together a drive there, you make life much more difficult for the Seahawks the rest of the way, and you give your self a chance to win the game.
But the call was missed, Seattle never gets behind the chains again on the drive and they go down and score a TD while running the clock to just under 8 minutes left, and at that point Jason Garrett was giving his challenge flag to the equipment guy, and the game was over.
Remember, it's never as good or as bad as it seems. The Cowboys needed to play a perfect first half to control the 2nd half and they couldn't do it, and the game got out of hand. But even in a game that seemed as lopsided as this, if one or two plays end up differently, the game goes the other way, and we are still hyping our team up as Superbowl contenders.