It's time to hand out game balls for the Cowboys' home victory against the Seahawks! We've got one for a player from each unit: offense, defense, special teams. We've even got one for the coaching staff.
Tony Romo - Down 3-0 in the first quarter, faced with a 2nd-and-1on the Seattle 36, Romo had a choice: run for an easy first down, or get the ball in the hands of one of the receivers.
Had it been third down, perhaps he would have tucked it in to pick up a new set of downs; instead, he found Sam Hurd running a short crossing route in front of two Seattle linebackers. A mismatch all the way turned into a go-ahead score. Plays like this show that Romo's decision-making process has continued to mature past the pressure to make a play, himself, into a faithful patience that lets the plays develop.
For all the passing plays Jason Garrett called, Romo (36 attempts) responded again with accuracy (58% completed) and confidence. This game marked his third straight without an interception. Even more impressive is that he is hitting the throws that this offense depends on: slants, deep-outs, and that back-shoulder TD throw to Miles Austin was one of the better 3-yard passes I've seen. We already know he can throw the deep balls and the curl routes. Now, we're getting to see him trust his receivers - whether it's Felix coming out of the backfield or Ogletree on a screen.
Honorable Mention: Miles Austin, Leonard Davis
Make the jump to see who else gets a game ball.
Terence Newman - Timing is everything, especially for a cornerback. It was apparent that Dallas wanted to get up on Seattle early. Newman's hit on Justin Forsett that forced a fumble towards the end of the first quarter helped to do just that. After Orlando Scandrick's recovery and return, the turnover gave the offense the ball on the Seattle 30, which led to Marion Barber's 2-yard score. That put the Cowboys up 14-3.
After Nate Burleson caught that 36-yarder on Newman on the next drive, Seattle's top two WRs went on to have a rather frustrating day (T.J. Houshmanzadeh made that visibly apparent with his tantrums on the sidelines.) T-New kept the rest of the passes caught on him to 16 yards or less. He looks to be playing up to the level of his counterpart, Mike Jenkins, in that he's playing physically and following through with his tackles (6 solo, 1 assist).
Honorable Mention: Keith Brooking, Bradie James
Patrick Crayton - Thanks to Crayton's sudden surge at punt returning, the Cowboys are now atop the league leaders in punt return average. The team's 14.3 YPR average ranks only second behind Cleveland's 16.4. Individually, Crayton's 16.6 YPR average trails only the Vikings' Darius Reynaud, who has 10 less returns. Also, Crayton is the only player in the league with two touchdowns.
This most recent touchdown return against the Seahawks differed from the one against the Falcons in that this one was a little less dependent on his blockers. Although he did get some key blocks from Scandrick and Steve Octavien (also, check out David Buehler coming over from the right side of the field in the highlight), Crayton's burst allowed him to weave in and out of the protection. And he finished it all like all punt returners should - stiff-arming the punter to the ground to get to paydirt.
Honorable Mention: David Buehler, Victor Butler
Reggie Herring - Herring and his assistant, Dat Nguyen, are getting the most out of each of their linebackers. We know how dominant DeMarcus Ware and Brooking are, and we've seen the consistency over the years from Bradie James. What these coaches are doing with the younger players is impressive.
Anthony Spencer is getting better every game. You get the sense that he's going to take a FB-flat pass to the house at least once this year. And he seems to be just a step away from sacking the quarterback in every game. He's stout against the run, collapses the pocket more and more consistently, and nearly took Hasselback down on the TD throw to Deion Branch.
Herring is a loud guy. You've got to imagine that his tough persona has got to rub off on a guy like Bobby Carpenter. What's great is that Herring, Nguyen, Coach Phillips, and Coach Joe DeCamillis have worked well together to find roles for players like Carpenter, Victor Butler and even Steve Octavien - roles that are putting each of them in position to contribute to the team. That's what makes a good coach.
Honorable Mention: Joe DeCamillis, Skip Peete
The Cowboys did what they were supposed to do: beat a team they should beat. And, again, they dominated in all phases.
Who gets your game balls?