The Dallas Cowboys went into CenturyLink field and provided fans with a tumultuous game that featured all kinds of hills and valleys of excitement. In a game of runs, the Seattle Seahawks came through in the clutch moments to secure the 38-31 win and start the season with a 3-0 record. The Cowboys dropped to 1-2, but still sit in good shape as the NFC East continues to flounder. There were some great things that happened in the game, and then others that were not so great.
Here are ten thoughts on Sunday’s action.
1. Too much cooking time
On plenty of plays it seemed like Russell Wilson had forever and a day to throw the ball. The Cowboys defensive line was very inconsistent in generating pressure on the Seahawks star quarterback. While the Cowboys did rack up four sacks on the day, the pass rush was very hit or miss. On some plays the Cowboys got pressure, but at other times, what seemed to be the majority, Wilson just calmly chilled in the pocket and waited for his receivers to get open. Or when pressure came he calmly evaded it for yards.
The Cowboys secondary gave up some big plays, and some of them were just flat out blown coverages. Other times, they held their own, and considering just how banged up this group was, any time for Wilson in the pocket was a killer.
2. Why is the special teams so terrible?
Last week, it was easy to forgive a unit that failed to execute most of the day because they left us with that game-winning watermelon kick. Collectively, it was still pretty bad, and that badness infiltrated this weeks game as well. Can anyone explain to me why they keep having Tony Pollard attempt to run back kickoffs? We get that he was really great at this at Memphis, but it’s time to re-visit a different plan because things are just not working out.
Greg Zuerlein was the hero last week, but two extra points weren’t so extra this week. Granted, one of them wasn’t his fault as the blocking arrangement allowed a short, uncontested path to block the kick.
They have to get things sorted out because these negative plays are hurting the team.
3. Battle of the second-round steals
It was fun to watch D.K. Metcalf and Trevon Diggs battle it out. Last year, the Seahawks scored when Metcalf slid to them late in the second round, and Cowboys fans felt that same level of good fortune when Diggs was there for them this year in the second round.
Metcalf is a big, physical receiver, and he filled up the stat sheet nicely with a four-catch, 110-yard performance that included the go-ahead touchdown. Credit Diggs for a hard fought battle, and nobody will forget that touchdown saving punch out on Metcalf. The rookie corner was all over the field and even led the Cowboys defense with nine tackles on the day.
4. The offensive line shuffle
It’s hard to believe that the only normal starting offensive lineman playing his original position in the latter part of the game was left guard Connor Williams. After apparently seeing enough of right tackle fill-in Terence Steele, the Cowboys moved Zack Martin to the outside. The move also slid starting center Joe Looney over to the right guard spot for Martin. That meant it was time for the debut of rookie Tyler Biadasz.
Dak Prescott had his fair share of hurries, and although he only went down twice, they ended up being costly. As it turned out, the two sacks were given up by the two guys who didn’t move out of their spots. Williams gave up the sack/fumble when Jarran Reed got passed him, and Alton Robinson was too much for left tackle fill in Brandon Knight late in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the unit played okay, and credit Martin for an impressive showing at the right tackle position. We have no idea how long the Cowboys will be without their actual starting tackles, but it’s nice to know Martin is now a legit candidate to handle those responsibilities if needed.
5. Too many second chances
It’s hard enough to stop the Seahawks offense one time, but imagine if you just keep giving them extra chances. That’s what happened on multiple occasions Sunday. In the second quarter, the Cowboys had stopped the Seahawks on a 3rd-and-10, but it was nullified by an illegal contact penalty by Daryl Worley. Then, later in that same drive, Worley had an interception taken away near the goal line after Jourdan Lewis was called for pass interference. The Seahawks capitalized by finding the end zone three plays later.
And while it turned out to be moot, how aggravating would it have been if the Cowboys scored a touchdown on that last drive only to just tie it up rather than go ahead because of a second chance two-point conversion courtesy of Trysten Hill? After the Seahawks failed on their initial two-point attempt, they got a do-over when Hill was penalized for helmet-to-helmet contact on Wilson.
6. A horrendous stretch
After the Cowboys forced the Seahawks to punt with a minute left in the second quarter, it looked like Dallas had a shot to jump ahead of them with a field goal drive to end the first half. But it did not go down that way.
Instead, Prescott threw an interception with 40 seconds left after Shaquill Griffin jumped Amari Cooper’s route. Seattle scored five plays later to go up by eight points. Then, on the opening play of the second half, the Prescott sack/fumble gave the Seahawks the ball at the Cowboys five-yard line. Two plays later, the Seahawks scored again and were then up by 15 points. In just over a minute of game clock, the Seahawks put the Cowboys on the ropes.
7. Down, but never out
Credit the Cowboys for not panicking and putting up a fight after falling behind by 15 points. This makes the second straight game that the team was down by at least 15 points in the second half only to fight back and eventually take the lead. Sure, we’d rather them not fall so far behind in the first place, but it’s still nice to see them show so much resolve when it would’ve been so easy to unravel.
8. Have yourself a day, Cedrick
Another game, another offensive unsung performer coming out of nowhere. Dalton Schultz was outstanding last week against Atlanta, but on Sunday it was third-year receiver Cedrick Wilson who broke onto the scene. He’s essentially been non-existent up until this point in his career, but against the Seahawks, he caught five passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns. We’ve been waiting for Wilson to find his niche in this offense, and how cool is it to have yet another receiving weapon for Prescott.
9. Aldon continues to impress
When the Cowboys put pressure on Wilson, it usually came from Aldon Smith. After a long hiatus from the league, Smith continues to show why he was such a force earlier in his career. He took down Wilson three times, and now leads the Cowboys team with four sacks. This is great news.
The Cowboys are still figuring things out on the defensive line. Still, it’s good to see Smith play so well and know that he’s going to be an integral part of this team’s pass rush for the season.
10. Zeke funk
It’s real easy to miss on the gritty work Ezekiel Elliott does in a game, especially when he doesn’t have things rolling in the running game. The pass protection, the tough runs, it’s still all there. Elliott finished the game with just 34 yards on 14 carries as the running game never took off. Elliott struggled catching anything Dak threw his way as if he had no interest in having the ball. He also slipped near the goal line that resulted in a safety. Zeke just didn’t seem like his normal self on Sunday.