For the third time in five years, the Dallas Cowboys are playing in the NFC Divisional Round after beating the Seattle Seahawks 24-22 on Saturday. It was an anxiety-filled game as the teams stayed neck and neck. Even when the Cowboys appeared to pull away by 10 points late in the fourth quarter, Seattle made us sweat one more time with a drive to make it close. Cowboys fans can rest easy now and enjoy Sunday’s playoff action as we await to see who Dallas will face next weekend.
Here are 10 thoughts on the Cowboys big win over Seattle.
1. Ground attack comes through
This was going to be a battle of which team could establish the run and wear down the defense. Behind 137 yards from Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys out-rushed Seattle 164 to 73. Zeke was outstanding. He bounced outside for a 44-yard run late in the first half on a 3rd-and-1 play that flipped the field and led to the Cowboys first touchdown of the game. Then, he had a nice 17-yard run where he again bounced outside, only he then turned back inside to avoid going out bounds so the clock continued to run. The best part of that play was how he abused Seahawks corner Shaquill Griffin with a nice stiff arm.
@ezekielelliott with the finger tip stiff arm! ✋ #SEAvsDAL #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/k4XecoXuCs— Justin Ellis (@jtellis77) January 6, 2019
It wasn’t just the Cowboys offense that came through in the running game. The defense was great as well. Chris Carson was held to just 20 yards on 13 carries for a 1.5 average. Rashaad Penny had a nice run of 28 yards, but then he only had one yard over his three other carries. The defense stifled the Seahawks top-rated ground game. Here is example of pretty much every Seattle running play on Saturday.
check out the closing speed/angles of Jaylon Smith and LVE as they end all hope of this play developing #SEAvsDAL 6-10 3rd QTR 6-10 #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/0eOMV8dXTu— Steven Van Over (@StevenVanOver) January 6, 2019
2. Costly missed field goal
You just sorta had a feeling that a missed field goal was going to come back to haunt someone in this game. Both teams missed a long field goal towards the end of first half. First, Brett Maher was wide on a 58-yard attempt, which would have tied a playoff record. That gave Seattle great field position and led to a Seahawks field goal.
As time expired at the end of the first half, Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 57-yarder, but hooked it. While Seattle definitely could have used those points, it was the fact that Janikowski left the game with an injury, forcing the Seahawks to rely on punter Michael Dickson to handle all the kicking duties. Seattle wouldn’t even let him try an extra point as Pete Carroll chose to go for two after each touchdown in the second half.
Not having Janikowski also hurt when they needed to attempt an onside kick. Dickson’s drop kick didn’t even give Seattle a chance to recover it as he just pooched it 30 yards to Cole Beasley. Game over.
In a game where all their points have come off the leg of K Sebastian Janikowski, this was the last thing the #Seahawks wanted to see heading into halftime#SEAvsDAL pic.twitter.com/dbSfCrfrT0— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) January 6, 2019
3. The running man
It just felt like the Cowboys were dominating a great portion of this game, only it was never translating onto the scoreboard. Seattle would get stopped again and again, only to have a big strike here or there to stay in the game. And when they needed a play, the Seahawks called all none other than Russell Wilson to make it. On a key fourth-down play, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for 22 yards to keep a drive alive in the third quarter. Wilson then delivered on two quarterback runs off the read-option, including four-yard touchdown run to give Seattle their first lead of the game.
But Wilson wasn’t the only quarterback making plays with his feet. Dak Prescott came up huge on two big runs in the fourth quarter. First, on a designed run, Prescott took off for what appeared to be 10-yard touchdown run. The play was overturned as Dak was just a few inches short. Zeke scored two plays later.
Dak was at it again late in the fourth quarter when he took off running up the middle on a big 3rd-and-14 play. Prescott would go end-over-end and land in the end zone, but once again he would be just a tad bit short. He scored on the very next play on a quarterback sneak. It was just a fantastic call and a great play from Dak. The Cowboys weren’t holding back and let Prescott loose. Great idea.
PUT THE TEAM ON YOUR @dak pic.twitter.com/6KPidio5mW— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 6, 2019
4. O-Line held up
Dak and Zeke got a lot of help. It was a grind at times, but Elliott had some holes to run through. Zeke averaged 5.3 yards per carry. And Prescott was only sacked once, which is only the third game all season where he’s been sacked less than two times in a game. They picked a good time to start blocking well. There was some concern about Connor Williams who was filling in for injured Xavier Su’a-Filo, but he played great. He had a nice seal off block on Dak’s big third down run late in the fourth quarter.
The block by Connor Williams tho pic.twitter.com/F62o0MBoH8— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 6, 2019
And it’s always great to have 77 back on the field.
Oh hai 77 i missed you so much pic.twitter.com/rdAvllfYCM— Landon Vander Ish (@McCoolBCB) January 6, 2019
5. Amari quietly does his thing
In his first playoff game in a Cowboys uniform, Amari Cooper did what he always does - he got open. There was no 70-yard breakaway play this time or he never got to celebrate in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, but he just kept making catches and kept the chains moving. Prescott targeted Cooper nine times, allowing the Cowboys new wide receiver to haul in seven catches for 106 yards. And plenty of those catches came at big moments in the game. Like this one...
0:13 mark Amari Cooper pic.twitter.com/W6lIWql7CZ— MilyStar 7* (@DayDreamThis) January 6, 2019
And this one...
.@dak to @amaricooper9 again!— NFL (@NFL) January 6, 2019
: #SEAvsDAL on FOX #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/KEXMVcJobf
Cooper has a knack for getting open and he did that plenty against the Seahawks. It’s going to be so much fun watching him for years to come.
6. 20 is the magic number
During the regular season the Cowboys were 9-0 when scoring 20 points or more. They got 24 on Saturday.
They were also undefeated (6-0) when Ezekiel Elliott had more than 20 carries in a game. Zeke had 26 carries against Seattle.
The Cowboys were able to reach both benchmarks so we can add another notch to the belt. The offense flows better when the ground game is working, but finishing has been a real problem for Dallas. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. After a nice red zone showing in last week’s rehearsal game against the New York Giants, the Cowboys offense continued their success against Seattle by going three for four in the red zone. Their only fail was the interception in the end zone when K.J. Wright was able to haul in a deflected pass. He was lucky he didn’t get called for pass interference on Noah Brown.
7. Austin almost strikes again
The last time the Seahawks played the Cowboys in the playoffs, there was a particular player with the last name Austin that ran a kick back for a touchdown. In 2006, that player was Miles Austin. On Saturday, it almost happened again with Tavon Austin.
Tavon Austin returns the punt for a touchdown.... However, there was a flag it was brought back. pic.twitter.com/EUlSBTv5yQ— Football Dungeon (@DuaneLively) January 6, 2019
While this play was called back due to a holding penalty, Austin got another shot in the second half.
Tavon Austin w the BIG RETURN! #CowboyNation pic.twitter.com/jA2pOLU3JY— MavsHighlights (@MavsHighlights) January 6, 2019
8. Great showing for Richard
Kris Richard has several interviews lined up for Sunday and he has to be pleased with the effort of his defense. He’s so good that even Antwaun Woods is great in pass coverage.
#Cowboys Antwaun Woods made a big play here for an 8-yard losspic.twitter.com/uValtbdtU1— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 6, 2019
The Seahawks were held to 299 yards and the Cowboys defense did a great job of getting off the field, allowing their offense to have almost 10 more minutes of time of possession. Even when the Seahawks were making plays, it was mostly in tight coverage with outstanding efforts made by Seattle’s receivers. The defense was outstanding and it should be a good day for Richard as he interviews for a new job.
9. Prayers go out to Hurns
Fans were excited about the signing of former Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns as he brought some nice “yards after the catch ability” to this offense. Hurns didn’t have the year many of us were hoping for. He only had 20 catches for 295 yards and two touchdowns - all career lows.
But Hurns was just one guy in a team effort for Prescott to throw to. Unfortunately, Hurns playoff debut in a Cowboys uniform was short lived after he caught a 14-yard pass on a 3rd-and-7. Hurns was able to get the first down and was trying to get more yardage when his ankle got caught underneath Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald. It didn’t look good.
Hurns season is over and our thoughts are with him.
Jason Garrett was right next to Allen Hurns while he was receiving treatment, holding his hand. pic.twitter.com/HqP4OEjjcF— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 6, 2019
10. Who do you want?
Sunday is going to be a relaxing day for Cowboys fans. We can sit back and enjoy the game between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. If the Bears win, the Cowboys will travel to New Orleans in a Week 13 rematch. Should the Eagles pull off the upset, Dallas will travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams. Both the one and two seed teams look tough so it’s hard to say which team is preferable.
Rooting against the Eagles comes naturally so it seems obvious to pull for Chicago, however the thought of hosting a possible NFC Championship game certainly is appealing. Who will you be pulling for today?