The Mike McCarthy Era is off to a slow start. If not for the “watermelon kick” things would be really ugly.
The Mike McCarthy era with the Dallas Cowboys is not off to a rousing start. In fact, it has almost been disastrous.
If not for an improbable recovered onside kick in the fourth quarter in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys would be staring at their first 0-3 start since 2001 with their 38-31 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The last time the Cowboys were 0-3, they were a crumbling franchise with only running back Emmitt Smith remaining from the Triplets era that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s.
Entering 2020, these Cowboys were viewed by some as among the most talented in the NFL and a title contender with a Super Bowl-winning coach in McCarthy set to shepherd them back to at least a conference title game for the first time since 1995.
Considering the sad state of the NFC East, the Cowboys will always have a chance to get to the postseason, but this season was always about more than just getting to the playoffs even if McCarthy and his staff did not have an offseason program, full training camp or any preseason games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cowboys mistakes started early in the game and just kept on coming.
Of course, the Cowboys knew they would be in for a tough day against Russell Wilson and Seattle’s high-potent offense. A banged up secondary and a defensive line that has struggled to get pressure was facing a quarterback who is in the early running for league MVP honors. Not exactly a recipe for success.
But the Dallas defense did its best to keep up, reeling off four sacks, three by the resurgent Aldon Smith, many of which were thanks to solid coverage. For all the good, though, there was certainly some bad as the Cowboys didn’t help themselves with penalties, turnovers and poor special teams play. In a game that demanded they be perfect, the Cowboys were anything but.
Case in point, the first quarter was a seesaw of emotions that saw some terrific plays from the Cowboys as well as some truly awful ones, the result an improbable 9-9 tie after the first 15 minutes of play. Dallas opened the scoring with a 43-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein on their its possession of the game, but then in the span of just three plays, the Cowboys simply handed Seattle points.
The sorry sequence began when Wilson, on the Seahawks’ next drive, connected with speedy receiver Tyler Lockett, who raced behind the Dallas secondary for a 43-yard touchdown. Going from bad to worse, Tony Pollard then muffed the ensuing kickoff, recovering his own fumble at the Cowboys’ 1-yard line.
On the very next snap, Ezekiel Elliott slipped trying to break out of the end zone, providing the Seahawks a safety. Just like that, Dallas was down 9-3.
The Dak vs. Russ duel was entertaining, but it was Wilson that came out on top with more TDs and fewer INTs.
The Russell Wilson vs. Dak Prescott duel was every bit as enjoyable as advertised.
Wilson threw five touchdowns, giving him 14 for the season. (He should have had a sixth but more on that later.) That’s the most in NFL history through three games.
Prescott threw for 472 yards and three touchdowns. He became only the second quarterback to throw for more than 450 passing yards in consecutive games, joining Jameis Winston.
Prescott, though, threw his second interception with six seconds left as cornerback Ryan Neal picked him in the end zone, giving the Seahawks a hard-earned 38-31 victory. Seattle remained undefeated, while Dallas fell to 1-2.
Prescott drove the Cowboys 70 yards on 16 plays as they took a 31-30 lead on a 42-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal with 3:59 remaining. It was too much time for Wilson.
DK Metcalf redeemed himself after a careless fumble on his way into the end zone for what should have been a 63-yard touchdown in the first half. The Seahawks budding star caught the game-winning touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Wilson on third-and-three with 1:47 left.
The Cowboys tried to double him, but Metcalf ran by safety Darian Thompson.
5 thoughts from Cowboys-Seahawks: Secondary woes and special teams problems plague Dallas - Calvin Watkins, DMN
One issue for the team is special teams. But an offensive line adjustment may have helped solve another issue.
Special teams problems
Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein missed two PATs, hitting the right upright in one end zone and getting another blocked in the opposite end zone. It was the first time Zuerlein had missed a PAT since 2018. This was not a great showing for the special teams unit. Tony Pollard muffed a kickoff and then he was late getting onto the field on a punt that forced the Cowboys to take a delay of game penalty. John Fassel’s group regressed in this contest. In the third quarter after a punt return by CeeDee Lamb to the Cowboys’ 12, an illegal block in the back penalty against Saivion Smith pushed the Cowboys back to the 6.
Offensive line changes
The Cowboys made some offensive line changes in the midst of the third quarter. Right tackle Terence Steele was benched and Zack Martin took over for him, which triggered more moves. Joe Looney moved to right guard from center. Rookie Tyler Biadasz became the center. On the series when the changes occurred, Prescott completed a 52-yard sideline pass to Michael Gallup and later a 42-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson. The Cowboys trailed 30-22 after the Wilson score with 5:47 remaining in the third. That drive kept them in the game.
Watch: Cowboys rookie Trevon Diggs saves touchdown with goal-line strip of D.K. Metcalf - Sportsday Staff
The game had plenty of crazy plays, but this one was certainly memorable.
A first quarter in Seattle that included two touchdowns, a safety, a missed extra point, plus more special teams difficulties from the Dallas Cowboys saved maybe its best play for (almost) last.
As the clock wound down on the opening period with the score tied 9-9, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson launched a throw down the right sideline to D.K. Metcalf for what appeared to be his second touchdown pass. However, as Metcalf slowed as he approached the goal line, Dallas’ rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs closed the distance and punched the ball out from behind and through the endzone.
The play ended as a 62-yard completion, a fumble, and a touchback. The Cowboys were awarded the ball on their own 20-yard line.
DK Metcalf fumbles the score away after TOASTING Trevon Diggs— PFF (@PFF) September 27, 2020
The Cowboys had a chance at the end, but some suspect play-calling (what was with that ill-timed screen) and a stiffened Seattle defense put the game away. Seattle was also able to keep Ezekiel Elliott in check all day.
Prescott had one last chance after Metcalf’s TD reception. He led the Cowboys to the Seattle 22 but was sacked by rookie Alton Robinson on second down, and Dallas had use its final timeout with 16 seconds left. On third down, Prescott’s desperation throw to the end zone was intercepted by Ryan Neal.
Prescott finished 37 of 57 for 472 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He set career highs for yards and attempts.
While Prescott became the latest QB to have a big day against Seattle’s leaky secondary, the Seahawks held Ezekiel Elliott in check. Elliott finished with 34 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored on a 1-yard run in the first half.
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