When you look at this playoff victory for the Dallas Cowboys over the Seahawks, you’ll notice the big plays made by Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Dak Prescott. You’ll also notice who was involved in every single memorable moment for all the wrong reasons, poor Shaquill Griffin.
There is no more “boom” in Seattle’s Legion but they sure were dealt a dose of their own medicine from the other side. Shaquill Griffin was the common target of many of the biggest plays of the game and it just kept coming. It felt like watching Jeff Heath’s rookie season in Dallas where he was often matched up with some of the league's best and it never ended well. Calvin “Megatron” Johnson torched the young Saginaw Valley defensive back. Adrian “All-Day” Peterson carried Heath with him into the end zone. Thankfully, Jeff Heath has rebounded and has been on the winning side of a lot of big plays but that rookie year was rough.
Shaquill Griffin is fine young player who has a great career ahead of him in just his second season. However, the winners get to gloat and we’re going to relive the abuse that these Cowboys put on that poor man. But first, here is what Pro Football Focus had to say.
Seattle’s Shaquill Griffin was the most targeted defender in the Wildcard matchup. He was targeted 14 times, 10 more than the next closest defender. Dak Prescott completed 8 of 14 passes when targeting Griffin for 108 yards, six first downs, and one touchdown.
Let’s look at some of specific plays.
The Setup: At the Seahawks 11-yard line, down 6-3 to Seattle, Dak Prescott fails on first down to hit Michael Gallup for the touchdown with :33 seconds before halftime.
It happened. A touchdown. Really. pic.twitter.com/MdU0SSemVb— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) January 6, 2019
On 2nd and 10, same play, different result. Michael Gallup hauls in the score through tons of contact by Griffin. Gallup would not be denied a second time as the Cowboys take a 10-6 lead into the half. That was grown-man football right there by the rookie receiver who has elevated his play over the past several weeks.
Let’s turn focus to the alpha receiver for the Cowboys and that’s Mr. Amari “Season-Saving” Cooper. The Cowboys were going to need big plays that they didn’t get in the first meeting in week three prior to Cooper’s arrival.
The Setup: Note to Seattle - If you’re plan is to play zone coverage against a route-savvy receiver like Cooper, make sure guys: A.) Pay attention and B.) Can tackle
On 2nd and 8 at the 50, Dak Prescott finds Cooper sitting in zone between Griffin and safety Tedric Thompson, they tackled him, eventually, at their own 16-yard line. A few plays later, with every Seahawk crashing down (including Griffin), Zeke eats for six. Too easy.
The last and final crime came at the “arm” of Ezekiel Elliott and you could argue Elliott should have been flagged for targeting for this dismantling of Griffin’s soul.
The Setup: On 1st and 10 at the Seattle 30, Zeke bounces outside and punishes the Seahawks for letting him get the edge. Who was supposed to stop him? Well, it was Mr. Shaquill Griffin.
This is properly referred to as a “stiff arm” in gridiron jargon but take a closer look and it looks closer to a baptism. Zeke scampers for 17-yards and stays in bounds keeping the clock rolling.
But wait, there’s more because after Noah Brown gets flagged, the Cowboys are facing 3rd and 14 at the Seattle 17. Dak Prescott converts on the QB draw and Seattle’s #26 wasn’t about to get involved in this one:
Another keeper at the goal line puts the Cowboys up two scores and gives Dallas the deciding lead.
Touchdowns feel so good pic.twitter.com/Srn4888xbb— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) January 6, 2019
The Cowboys playmakers took it to this Seattle defense and though they picked on Shaquill Griffin a few times, it’s just football.
Sometimes you’re the hero and sometimes you’re the goat, not to be confused with the G.O.A.T which is a title reserved for Jeff Heath as Cowboys’ fans know. The Cowboys were the heroes in this one and the goats were sent home on a flight to the Pacific Northwest.