The Seahawks made it interesting in Dallas today but ultimately the Cowboys were too much for this young team, running away with it at the end to win 23-13 to go to 4-4 on the year. The Seahawks fall to 2-6. It was a game that had a feeling sort of similar to the last two for Seattle - lots of missed opportunities and mistakes, penalties, poor special teams play, weird clock management and yet the Hawks remained within striking distance until late against a good team.
Dallas did their part to allow Seattle to hang in the game despite racking up 304 total yards in the first half on ten first downs. To start, the two teams did nothing on their respective opening drives and then Jon Ryan boomed a punt that Dez Bryant inexplicably fielded at the 4 yard line before being tackled at the 1. The Cowboys then marched down the field with a mixture of fine passing by Tony Romo and hard running by DeMarco Murray. Their drive stalled in the redzone and despite a first and goal from the 8-yard line, they settled for a field goal.
This was the first of several missed opportunities by the Cowboys early on, and Dez Bryant had another key mistake with 6:39 in the 2nd quarter as he rumbled for what looked to be a sure touchdown, but fumbled after a big hit by Richard Sherman on the 1-yard line. The ball was recovered by the Seahawks, who then marched down the field and tied the game at 6 with just over a minute in the half. So, despite being outgained 304-134 in total yards in the first half, the Seahawks remained in good position to win the game.
The second half was a similar story but this time key mistakes came back to really bite the Seahawks in the ass. Principal of which was a blown assignment by K.J. Wright on Dallas' all-world TE Jason Witten, who caught a pass, wide-open in the flats, and ran it in for a 33-yard touchdown. Your writers here, specifically Thomas, were particularly worried about the Jason Witten matchup and this did prove to be an issue for the Seahawks defense, as he caught 4 passes for 71 yards and that big Dallas TD.
The Seahawks offense grinded away the 3rd quarter for the most part though otherwise, picking up five first downs on offense and controlling the football for over nine minutes, but they failed to put any points on the scoreboard, thanks in part to a blocked Steven Hauschka field goal attempt with 4:50 left in the frame.
Later in the quarter, Tarvaris made the first of several big mistakes in the 2nd half, as he tried to throw a ball away on a failed screen pass development, but accidentally threw the ball right into the hands of Jason Hatcher. This killed what looked to be a nice drive developing after TJack hit Anthony McCoy for a 31-yard gain up the seam to put the Seahawks into Dallas territory. Obviously, that went for naught and the Seahawks went into the fourth quarter trailing 13-6. The game was still within reach, but the Cowboys were threatening at the Seahawks' 8 yard line following the turnover.
The Cowboys opened the fourth quarter by scoring seven on a nice find by Tony Romo of a wide-open Laurent Robinson after scrambling about in the pocket for a bit. This now put the Seahawks in a tough spot, down 20-6 with 14:17 remaining.
On the Seahawks ensuing drive, Tarvaris Jackson threw his most ill-advised pass of the season off his back foot, a deep sideline route meant for Sidney Rice, that was intercepted by Terrence Newman. The Cowboys drove back down the field and scored a field goal to essentially put the game away, 23-6 with 11:16 remaining.
The Seahawks took the kickoff and drove down the field on a 10-play, 70-yard drive but took over five minutes off the clock and didn't seem to show much of a sense of urgency for the rest of the game, and that proved to be the final score, 23-13.
The Cowboys ran the ball well, picking up 163 yards on the ground with 5.6 yards per carry. Not the performance the previously league-leading Seattle run-defense was looking for. Furthermore, Tony Romo played well, completing 19-of-31 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. He was efficient and calm, and the Seahawks got almost zero pressure on him throughout the game. He took advantage.
DeMarco Murray looks like a future superstar, and he rushed today for 139 yards on a 6.3 yards per carry average. He also caught 4 passes for 47 yards and continues to build on his breakout game from last week. It was the first time the Seahawks had given up triple-digits on defense and it certainly hurt them in this one.
As for the Seahawks, there were encouraging plays interspersed with the frustrating ones. First off, Tarvaris Jackson played through what was probably excruciating pain but made three giant mistakes that turned into interceptions. Overall, I don't think he played horribly (though 3 second-half picks will never get your team a win when coming from behind), but he definitely took a setback in terms of fans' confidence as he finished with 221 yards on 17-of-30 passing and those three interceptions.
Marshawn Lynch looked good, as did the offensive line, as the Seahawks rumbled for 162 yards on the ground, 135 for Lynch on a 5.9 ypc average and one touchdown. He played tough, and oftentimes looked exasperated as he picked himself up off the ground. He's playing mad, and it finally showed up on the boxscore so that running success and balance will be something the Seahawks can build on.
The Seahawks ended up rushing 30 times and passing 30 times, and actually won the time of possession, holding the ball for 30:33. They had 18 first downs, which matched that of the Cowboys, and had 381 yards of total offense. They protected Tarvaris well and bottled up Demarcus Ware (props to Carpenter and Okung), but it wasn't enough. They were awful on third down - 2/10, and the penalties and special teams flubs certainly hurt their chances. The Hawks were penalized 10 times for 88-yards. That will need to get cleaned up.
On defense, the Hawks surrendered 442 yards of total offense, including 162 on the ground, and just didn't look to have that swagger or confidence throughout the game. Earl Thomas and David Hawthorne led the way for the Hawks with 8 tackles each, but as a team the Hawks managed to get zero sacks and only two quarterback hits on Tony Romo. That simply won't get it done, no matter how good your secondary plays.
We'll have a lot more for you as the week goes on. As for now, at 2-6, the Seahawks main goals will be building identity and developing their young players. The playoffs at this point are essentially out of the question, but that's not a particular surprise. Time to start preparing to host the Baltimore Ravens.