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Know your history: The Cowboys-Seahawks matchup

The Cowboys and Seahawks have a lot in common.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The similarities between the Cowboys and Seahawks are really quite astonishing. Both are led by Super Bowl-winning head coaches who have coached elsewhere before. Both feature highly efficient dual-threat quarterbacks who were taken in the middle rounds of the draft. And both have operated out of conservative, run-heavy offenses for the past decade. Dallas even ran the exact same defense as the Seahawks the last two years under former Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

But the biggest difference between these two teams right now? Seattle is sitting at 2-0 after two big wins, while the Cowboys barely made it to 1-1. The Seahawks thrashed the Falcons 38-25, the same Falcons team that took a miracle of an onside kick for Dallas to beat, and Seattle is now coming off a narrow victory over the Patriots.

That will surely play a role in this contest, but the Cowboys and Seahawks also have quite the history together. Of their 20 games played together, 14 of them have come in the last 20 years. It’s been a back and forth battle, with Dallas leading the series 11-9 all-time and going 10-8 in regular season games.

Of course, those two playoff games hold some real significance between these two teams. The first playoff match was in the Wild Card game of the 2006 season. Bill Parcells, in what proved to be the last game of his coaching career, led a scrappy Cowboys team that was riding its young, new starting quarterback, Tony Romo, into Seattle against Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks.

Down 21-20, Romo managed to lead his team down the field to attempt a go-ahead field goal with under two minutes left in the game. You probably don’t need to be reminded of what happened next, but just in case:

It was the Cowboys’ first playoff appearance since 2003, and the first playoff game of Romo’s career. The catastrophic way it ended would serve to haunt the perception of Romo for the rest of his career, with people labeling him a choker no matter how many fourth quarter comebacks he led later on.

The second playoff game against Seattle also came in the Wild Card round, but this time in Dallas. After starting out 3-5 in the 2018 season, the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper in a trade and their offense took off. They won seven of their final eight games to win the NFC East, but faced a Seahawks team that had won six of their last seven to make the playoffs too.

It was another close game, with the Cowboys winning by a score of 24-22. The highlight, though, came from none other than Dak Prescott. Up 17-14 with just over two minutes left in the game, Dallas faced a third and 14. Everyone assumed they would end up kicking a field goal, setting up for Russell Wilson to beat them with a simple touchdown pass. But Dak had other things in mind:

Prescott scored the touchdown on the next play thanks to a QB sneak, and it made the lead insurmountable for Seattle. They would score another touchdown, but lacking Greg Zuerlein, they failed to recover an onside kick that iced the win for Dallas. It’s the last playoff victory the Cowboys have had.

While the playoff games between these two teams have been close and memorable, the regular season bouts haven’t been quite the same. The Cowboys are currently on a three-game losing streak in the regular season against Seattle. They lost by a point in the 2015 season when Matt Cassel was quarterbacking. Prescott’s first game against the Seahawks, in 2017, saw Ezekiel Elliott’s return from suspension but resulted in a 21-12 loss, while Dak’s second game, in 2018, featured not-Cowboys safety Earl Thomas picking him off twice as Dallas lost 24-13.

Prior to that, though, things were flipped. While Romo’s first game against the Seahawks ended in tragedy, he was pretty good against them in the regular season. Romo’s Cowboys were 4-1 against Seattle, outscoring them 132-89 during that stretch. Romo’s final game against them came in the 2014 season, when they traveled to Seattle to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions and give them only their second home loss in three seasons.

In a game that Dallas ultimately won 30-23, it was largely remembered for this clutch throw from Romo to Terrance Williams to convert a third and 20 late in the game:

Prior to the 2002 season, these teams rarely played each other. That’s because Seattle was in the AFC for most of their lifespan until the league realignment in 2002 that placed them in the NFC West. However, the Seahawks did play their inaugural season, in 1976, in the NFC; their fourth game as a franchise was against the Cowboys.

Of course, it was a loss for Seattle. They were a brand new team, and Dallas had been in the Super Bowl the prior season. Roger Staubach threw for two touchdowns while Robert Newhouse and Doug Dennison both rushed for a score as well, and the Cowboys dominated with a 28-13 win. The two teams would go on to face each other only six times over the next 25 years.

This week’s game will be their first matchup since that playoff victory, and the first regular- season game since Thomas, frustrated that his favorite team hadn’t traded for him, made his presence felt. Now, Seattle features Jamal Adams at safety, another Cowboys fan who publicly begged Dallas to trade for him but didn’t get his wish, while Dak will try to get his first regular-season win over this franchise.

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