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After further review: CeeDee Lamb, Jake Ferguson spark Cowboys passing attack against the Seahawks

Last week went well for the Cowboys in a lot of ways.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys handled their business with a dramatic 41-35 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. The offense played so well that punter Bryan Anger never saw the field. However, the defense played so poorly that the Seahawks punter never came on the field either. It was 76 points worth of fun, the most points in a Cowboys game so far this season.

It wasn’t all good on offense as they struggled at times deep in the red zone, and the defense finally showed up late in the game despite laying out the red carpet early. Were things really as good as they seem on offense and as bad as they looked on defense? Let’s see what we can learn after re-watching the game film.

FERGALICIOUS

It seems like only yesterday when we watched Dalton Schultz come out of nowhere to have a breakout season. Now, three years later, we are watching Jake Ferguson do the same thing in his first year as the team’s lead tight end. What is amazing about Ferguson is he is doing it in year two versus year three for Schultz, and he is on pace to outperform his predecessor in catches, yards, and touchdowns. Ferguson has removed any doubt that he’s a legit TE1 in this league.

On Thursday, Ferguson played with reckless abandon. He sacrificed himself by going around, through, and over any defender that stood in his way. He delivered the boom boom pow to those sea chickens jackin’ his style and you could see the Seahawks' defense become frustrated with him as several players started jawing with him. But despite the attitude Seattle’s defenders gave, Ferguson refused to back down and in the end, he served them up a nice slice of humble pie.

THE ELITE RECEIVER

CeeDee Lamb has set new career-high numbers in every season he’s played in and it’s going to happen again this year. The fourth-year receiver is on pace to have 128 catches for 1,675 yards, which would break Michael Irvin’s Cowboys’ single-season record back in 1995. Lamb has been exceptional this season and the Cowboys know it as they continue to up his workload. Lamb has had 14+ targets in four of his last six games after not having that many looks even once before the bye. Lamb has clearly established himself as one of the game’s elite receivers.

Lamb has been great, Ferguson has been great, and even Brandon Cooks is a thing now. It’s wonderful. It’s as if this team has an MVP-caliber quarterback or something.

BLOCKING WOES

The offense scored on eight of their nine total drives with the only failure being a fourth-down incompletion when Lamb couldn’t come up with the completion. Despite them running up and down the field, the offense still struggled at times deep in the red zone. They had 1st-and-goal at the two-yard line on their opening drive that they couldn’t punch in.

The Cowboys continue to run the ball in goal line situations as the interior defensive line is attacking the shoulder and getting through the creases. And in other instances, the Cowboys are just not executing their blocking schemes and pass rushers are slipping by with pass-rushing stunts. It’s not like the offensive line isn’t strong enough to secure blocks, but it’s the little things that aren’t being done for them to be successful. Head coach Mike McCarthy is well aware of this deficiency, which is why they revert to the pass so many times in those situations. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The offensive line does need to improve, but they weren’t dreadful. Despite Dak Prescott hitting the turf four times, it wasn’t because the offensive line was being dominated. Sometimes it was a coverage sack or just a failure to pick up a rusher that caused the pocket to collapse on Dak.

WHY SO MANY BIG PLAYS?

The Cowboys' defense is coming off back-to-back games where they have allowed a 100+ receiver after not doing it once all season. These past two games are the two highest passing yard totals the defense has given up all season. Why are they suddenly having problems?

When you look at the tape, there are a few things that stand out. First off, the Seahawks' pass protection was outstanding. While the Cowboys did apply some pressure, it arrived ‘too little too late’ in most cases. The Cowboys' defenders did get turned around a lot and it resulted in multiple pass interference/illegal contact penalties. There were also a handful of instances where the rush was there, the coverage was there, but Geno Smith got rid of it just in time and put the ball in a perfect spot. Credit the Seahawks for making great plays.

Is this something that should worry us? Neither Stephon Gilmore nor DaRon Bland are shutdown corners and there will occasionally be collateral damage at times. And the Cowboys safeties, while playmaking at times still have lapses in coverage. Good offenses, especially those with great receivers, will have their moments.

At the same time, the Seahawks played extremely well and near escapes followed by highlight reel catches is not a sustainable strategy. This became evident when their luck finally ran out in the fourth quarter. But that’s not to say that the Cowboys' defense won’t get a little crossed up at times and when they do, the fallout will be giving up a big play.

GENO AVOIDING SACKS

The Cowboys were sacked four times, but the Seahawks could’ve been sacked four times as well if Geno Smith hadn’t flung the ball away at the last second. Credit him for being smart and getting rid of the ball just in the nick of time.

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