In one game, the Cowboys went from first in the division to third, and looked as bad as ever in the process. Dallas traveled to Seattle to face a much-maligned defense and an offense that gave up six sacks a week ago while struggling to put up points. The result? Seattle’s defense sacked Dak Prescott five times and picked him off twice and recovered a Zeke fumble, while Russell Wilson put up 24 points and only got taken down twice. The Cowboys looked awful in all phases of the game, and a late touchdown made the final score of 24-13 look closer than it was.
For the Cowboys, their offense looked more like it did in Week One, with poor execution and questionable play-calling . Penalties, dropped passes, and bad throws were happening all over, but the biggest issue was the lack of protection for Dak.
12 hits on Dak is the most of his career. Surpasses 10 against Carolina in week 1.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 23, 2018
I.E. Dak has been under more fire in weeks 1 and 3 than against Atlanta last year.
Defensively, the Cowboys looked bad for the first time this year. Only two sacks against the Seattle offensive line is disappointing for a pass rush this talented, and the secondary was letting receivers get by them routinely. Sean Lee also left with an injury and will probably miss a couple games, so it was really worst case scenario for Dallas, and it all came in one game.
With that in mind let’s break down the five plays that shaped the game.
Dak gets picked off by Earl Thomas in the most unbelievable way
After going three and out on their opening drive, the Cowboys offense got the ball back at their own fifteen yard line. A seven-yard carry from Zeke was followed up by an 18-yard dash for Tavon Austin and the offense seemed to waking up. On the next play, Dak threw a pass to Michael Gallup that got jarred loose from contact and looked to fall incomplete. Earl Thomas, though, insisted that he had intercepted it, and the Seahawks challenged the call. After review, it became clear that it was a pick that can only be summed up as a glitch in Madden that makes you quit the game:
Unfortunately, Dallas can’t just quit the game. And the lucky break sucked all of the momentum out of the offense. The Dallas D forced a three and out, but the confidence of the offense never seemed to be restored.
Zeke drops the ball
Later in the second quarter, the Cowboys offense got the ball back and, with the game still scoreless on both sides, they had a perfect opportunity. A sack made it second and long, but a good run from Elliott gave Dak a manageable third and nine. The Cowboys drew up something fans have been clamoring for: a pass to Zeke.
But the running back dropped the ball, killing what would have been a big gain for a first down and forcing the Cowboys to punt. The Seahawks went on to score a touchdown on the next drive, striking first blood.
Wilson goes deep for second touchdown of the day
After the Seahawks’ first touchdown, the Cowboys responded with a drive of their own that resulted in a field goal. It was a bit of a moral victory, proving that they could move the ball and score points too. It was a blow to that minimal swell of confidence, then, when the Seahawks responded with another touchdown.
What’s worse is how it happened. After six plays, the Seahawks reached the two minute warning and had a third and nine on their own 48 yard line. It seemed as if the Cowboys might be able to get the ball back with time to go down and score before halftime. Instead, this happened:
Instead of getting the ball back with a chance to make it a Cowboys lead 10-3, the Seahawks made it 14-3. Of course, the Seahawks got it back a few plays later and kicked a field goal to make it 17-3 going into halftime, but this touchdown bomb once again crushed momentum for Dallas.
Zeke fumbles, gives up opportunity to score
Early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were trying to respond to the Seahawks’ latest touchdown that had extended the lead to 24-6. Things started to pick up when Dak hit Deonte Thompson for a first down at Seattle’s 45-yard line. Then, Zeke took the handoff and burst through the line for a huge gain that pushed the ball inside the red zone. But a Seahawks defender came up from behind and poked the ball loose before the defense recovered it.
This was obviously a huge blow to the offense, a recurring theme all game. The big run could have served as a spark to the offense, and a touchdown would have made it 24-13 with just under eleven minutes left in the game. Instead, Seattle ball.
Earl Thomas makes another ridiculous interception, and rubs it in all our faces
The Cowboys did, of course, manage to score a touchdown and get the ball back again. Down eleven points with five and a half minutes left, Dak and the offense was trying to pull off a quick score to get the comeback effort going. Forced to go for it on fourth and three, Dak hit Cole Beasley for 16 yards. Continuing with their no-huddle offense on this drive, Dak had a scramble for a first down and then hit Beasley again to take it into the red zone.
Then, Dak made an ill-advised throw to his tight end that was tipped up in the air and, by some miracle, Earl Thomas managed to scoop it up while going to the ground. And then he just had to flaunt it.
Earl Thomas comes up with another interception.— New Account (@ftbeard_17) September 23, 2018
Gonna be very disappointed if he doesn't say "Practice? We're talking about practice. Not the game, not the game.... We're talking about practice" during his post-game press conference pic.twitter.com/eIvKUhbKBM
He was flagged for taunting, but it didn’t matter. With just three minutes left in the game, the pick had sealed the victory for Seattle and made sure the Cowboys would have no chance of coming back.
BONUS: Sean Lee gets injured
This wasn’t necessarily a play that shaped the game, as the defense was giving up plenty of points beforehand, but it will definitely impact the Cowboys going forward. After teaming up with DeMarcus Lawrence to sack Wilson, Sean Lee apparently tweaked his hamstring and was kept out of the rest of the game.
It’s been well documented how much the Cowboys lose when Lee goes down, and seeing him on the sidelines certainly was another blow to the team’s confidence. It’s already been announced that the defensive leader will miss multiple games, and that could serve as a big crack in this team’s defense going forward, and it all stems from this game.