The two games before their bye last week, the Seattle Seahawks have respectively been super hot, and then super cold. It would behoove the Cowboys to prepare for the former, so there is no chance of losing out on a much needed three-game win streak.
Dallas must stay focused no matter which Seattle team comes to play.
"For right now, it's good to be in a good position," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to put more wins together and be a solid team throughout the whole season in order to be what you want to be."
This Sunday, the team with the identity crisis will be the visitors.
The Seahawks have no idea what they are: the team that beat Jacksonville 41-0 or the team that didn't convert a third down in a 27-3 loss to Arizona.
"It's amazing how one week can change the way you think, isn't it?" Seattle coach Jim Mora.
More VRR after the jump.
CB Marcus Trufant will play for the first time this season, but the Seahawks may bring him along slowly.
Sunday, Trufant will be running around covering the Cowboys’ Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. The plan is to have Trufant play in the nickel defense, at his usual spot on the left side. On the other downs, the corners will continue to be Ken Lucas and Josh Wilson.
"Having a play run at you every 30 or 40 seconds at that position can be difficult," is the way coach Jim Mora put it this week. "So, we need to see where he is endurance-wise. Obviously, he’s got to knock some of the rust off in terms of his technique, but he’s doing that, and he’s worked hard."
Hasselbeck and Housh are trying to get on the same page.
Houshmandzadeh had four catches for 34 yards and has grown frustrated over the situation. The pair spent extra time working together during the bye week.
"We'll find out when the games matter," Houshmandzadeh said. "It's easy to do at practice, when no one's on you."
The quarterback believes there's no easy explanation for his inability to get the ball more to his top target.
"Just trying to figure out what we're good at," Hasselbeck said. "One of those things is just to be automatic with some of the guys I throw the ball to and get some routes where we feel that confidence, that 'automatic' confidence. That breeds consistency. We're close some times, but we misfire. We have to fix that as quickly as we can."
Here is Seattle's injury report.
On the verge of a three-game win streak, Coach Phillips is keeping the players focused on their mistakes.
"We have to continue to just eat our humble pie," linebacker Keith Brooking told reporters in Irving. "We played one really solid game across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams. But at the end of the day, you have to look at the big picture. We have to keep it going. This is a 'What have you done for me lately?' league."
Slapping the Falcons (4-2) gave the Cowboys (4-2) a two-game winning streak and catapulted them into the playoff conversation. But all the good vibes Dallas took from that game will disappear should it lose to Seattle (2-4) on Sunday.
"We haven't won the Super Bowl or anything," linebacker Bradie James said. "We haven't even won a playoff game. We're excited. We have some confidence. But we need to be consistent."
The Cowboys haven't won three in a row since Weeks 11-13 of last season.
"Winning a couple of games, doing well in a couple of games sets a trend, but it doesn't make you a consistent football team," Phillips said. "To be consistent, you have to win three in a row."
Penalties, penalties, penalties. The Cowboys really need to cut those out...right? Hmm, Todd Archer takes a closer look at the team's record when it commits eight penalties or more in a game.
Last week, Atlanta's second touchdown came in part because Stephen Bowen was called offside on a third-down play. But it got me to thinking about how the penalty issue has been a big deal for a while.
They had eight against Atlanta and still won. Care to guess what the Cowboys' record is in their last 16 games in which they have been penalized eight or more times in a game?
It's 11-5. Amazing, isn't it?
The presnap penalties conundrum: five yards lost or maintain big play opportunities?
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said that the penalties that bother him the most are the pre-snap ones. Phillips said it's when you make changes that you can't jump. Phillips also offered that they could go on the first sound every time but that would hurt their audibles that have resulted in big plays.
Coach Phillips seems to have no qualms about putting Felix Jones back at kickoff return.
"The guy's well right now and he's ready to play. We'd like to get him the football and I think that's an opportunity to do that."
Said Jones: "Hey, there ain't no way around that. This is a physical game. You can get hurt walking a straight line. You just play football; there's no way around not getting hurt."
Jones has averaged 25.8 yards on 24 career returns and scored one touchdown last year. He said his knee continues to improve.
"The knee brace really helped out a lot, and you just go from there," he said. "Every day it's getting better until the point where I don't need it anymore. From now on I guess I'll be using it until I feel 100 percent, and confident about what's going on with my knee."
Ogletree huggers: could this be the second week we get to see #85?
The Cowboys also could use rookie receiver Kevin Ogletree. Active in one game this season, Ogletree has four kickoff returns for an average of 23.5 yards, similar to Jones (23.0) and Austin (24.7).
"That’s all you really want to do is help the team win," Ogletree said. "That’s what I’ve been here for. That’s been my motto. When I get in there, I believe it’s going to be trying to make a play or do something to help us."
Again the team's punt returner, Patrick Crayton will take advantage of every opportunity he has with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
"However they come my way, I've got to maximize them," said Crayton, the NFC special teams player of the week after the longest punt return by a Cowboy since Deion Sanders went 76 yards against Indianapolis a decade ago. "I've got to squeeze 100 percent of the juice out of it."
Crayton was hardly a whiner when assessing his situation last week. He said he would have liked to hear something from the coaching staff, but didn't act like it was hard to figure out.
"I had a dropped pass and a muffed punt," he said. "And the other guy had 250 yards."
Tony Romo has faith in Roy Williams.
"I'm a firm believer that if a guy shows me on a consistent daily basis out here on the practice field that he can do it, he's going to do it in the game," Romo said. "Sure, people are going to have games that aren't whatever they may feel up to their own standards, but that's each individual wanting to be competitive within himself."
"Roy works his butt off at practice. He comes out and he performs out there daily and I don't see any reason why he's not going to have a very successful rest of the season. I'm not going to shy away because he shows me on a consistent daily basis that he does so many good things. It'll happen."
Gerald Sensabaugh says that his thumb is cool, and the defense is ready to ravage the Seahawks' offense.
"Yeah, he (Ware) should be, but we’re all licking our chops a little," Sensabaugh said. "We’re ready to get out there and play again after the game we had Sunday. Our guys are going to be ready to pressure, no matter who’s at tackle or on the O-line. We’re going to get pressure, regardless."
Sensabaugh said that his surgically repaired right thumb, which was heavily wrapped in Sunday’s win over the Falcons, didn’t bother him or change his aggressive approach, and said he sees no reason for that to change.
"It’s pretty good — it’s healing up pretty well, I’ve got a new cast on it today, and I’m ready to go," he said. "I’ll throw it in there. It didn’t hurt me tackling—it didn’t help me catching the ball, but as far as tackling, it didn’t bother me at all."
Junior Siavii is growing into his role as Jay Ratliff's backup at NT. The Cowboys need him to continue to do so.
The Cowboys can preserve Ratliff only if the backup is effective, and Siavii has been. The Cowboys credited Siavii with being in on seven tackles during 16 plays in Sunday's win against Atlanta.
"It would be nice to see him get even more plays," said Ratliff, who agreed that breaks help him stay fresh in the fourth quarter. "He's doing well. We help each other out. We're a team, and we feed off each other."
In high school, Miles Austin did not join the football team until his junior year. Finally, football coach, Steve Mucha, got him aboard.
Mucha, 48, remembers the frustration he felt when Austin repeatedly rejected his pleas to join the team.
"He was concentrating on basketball and track, so we had kind of written him off," Mucha said. "I'd ask him to join and he'd say, ‘It's too late.' I'd say, ‘It's not too late. Let's see what happens."
Just before halftime of his first high school game, Austin caught a 70-yard pass to set up a score.
"Because he's such a great athlete, he caught on quickly to everything we were doing," Mucha said.
As a senior, Austin led the Boilermakers in interceptions and was an all-county receiver.
SAEN's Tom Orsborn also notes:
The record for most receiving yards over three games (in one season) is 612 by the Houston Oilers’ Charley Hennigan in 1961.
Here is the NFL Game Center link for the Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys.
And here's the series history between the two teams.
Dallas leads the all-time regular season series with Seattle, 7-4, including a 34-9 home rout of the Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day 2008. The Seahawks won the previous regular season meeting, a 13-10 home result in 2005. Seattle last won in Dallas in 2002.
In addition to the regular season series, the teams played a memorable postseason contest, won by Seattle in dramatic, 21-20 fashion at home in the 2006 playoffs.
Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips is 6-1 in his career against the Seahawks, including a 4-0 mark while the Broncos (1993-94) and 1-1 while at the helm of the Bills (1998-2000). Mora was 0-1 against Dallas while at the helm of the Falcons (2004-06), and will be meeting Phillips for the first time as a head man.