clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Winners and Losers from Cowboys 41, Seahawks 35

There are no winners on the defensive side of the ball.

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

Would you have rather been blown out like predicted or lose a game like that?

The Seattle Seahawks reeled us in with a tremendous offensive performance. It was one of the best of the entire season. Too bad the defense was so stoked watching the offense score points, they let the Dallas Cowboys score even more points.

Pete Carroll was 36-0 as Seahawks head coach when his teams scored at least 35 points. Make it 36-1. It was a devastating 41-35 loss that hammers their playoff hopes significantly. Let’s get to Winners and Losers.


Winners

Geno Smith

He did everything but lead the game-winning drive, at which point we witnessed the “don’t block Micah Parsons” masterclass. Smith has had the fans on his case for weeks, and he played one of his best games as a Seahawk. He finished 23/41 for 334 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and then the interception to DaRon Bland that ended up resulting in 0 points. The 0 sacks allowed against him is more a credit to Geno, because he was pressured on half of his dropbacks. Shit, Geno threw three touchdowns in three plays and only one of them counted!

Smith was decisive, he was mostly making great reads, he was getting the ball out on time and throwing with confidence, tearing up what is supposed to be a top-flight Cowboys defense. The two plays I know he’d want back (aside from the INT) are the contested throw to DK Metcalf when Zach Charbonnet was open on the checkdown, and then the miss to Noah Fant on the final drive. That might have even been impacted by Micah Parsons driving Abe Lucas into Geno’s throwing lane.

The team put up 35 points and scored touchdowns in every quarter. They were exactly what we wanted to see from the start of the season. It was a winning performance with even below-average NFL defense.

DK Metcalf

Speaking of fans getting on someone’s case...

Metcalf was outstanding. He had a hat-trick of touchdowns and needed only two catches to exceed 100 yards. There was one drop that I’ll knock him for but it wasn’t a super accurate throw by Geno. Overall, DK had 6 catches for 134 yards and those three teeders. He stepped up to the occasion, and a week after we saw one of DK’s worst games, we saw DK at his best. That 73-yard TD might be one of my favorite offensive plays in recent Seahawks history.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

He scored a touchdown, dammit! I don’t see how JSN’s catch had conclusive video evidence to overturn the call on the field. Terry McAulay sure seemed certain that the play should’ve stood.

But JSN still was a stud. He had 7 catches for 62 yards and multiple third-down conversions. We’re seeing the route tree open up for him, even through the growing pains of route adjustments and drops. If JSN keeps this up, JSN will have a rookie season not too dissimilar from Year 1 Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin. I’m impressed, and I’m excited.

Zach Charbonnet

Tough break for Charbonnet to bang his knee against the turf and miss the final few minutes, but this was his best game as a Seahawk. The rookie got his first NFL touchdown, totaled 99 yards of offense on 20 touches, and made the most of what were few available holes to run through. I really hope Charbonnet is used more as a receiving back because he is dangerous in open space.

Shane Waldron (except that one playcall)

I’m not going to let the stupidity of that last play completely undo what was a well-called game by the embattled Seahawks OC. We saw quick game, we saw deep shots, we saw middle of the field, and the offense was moving extremely well. Seattle was 9/14 on 3rd down, which is unlike any of their other performances this season.

I can knock Waldron for having way too much faith in his offense to let Micah Parsons be unblocked on the critical play, but as I said earlier, the defense was so poor that it should’ve never come down to this in the first place.

Losers

The entire defense

This is going to include players who played well, like Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, and Boye Mafe. They will have to be lumped into this trash-heap of a performance because it was collectively embarrassing.

Dallas put up 41 points on 9 real possessions (subtracting kneeldowns). The only time they didn’t score was a full-on drop by CeeDee Lamb on what should’ve been a 4th down conversion.

Even subtracting the penalties, the Cowboys had 27 first downs. Add them back in and you’ve got 33 first downs. The four sacks on Dak Prescott barely made an impact because two of those sacks came on touchdown drives anyway. Could’ve had five sacks if Darrell Taylor, who did have a sack earlier in the night, was able to wrap up Prescott instead of let him free.

What’s the excuse now? The defense got tired from the Seahawks offense scoring too many points? Jet lag? Mercury was in retrograde? That’s three blown 4th quarter leads in four weeks, and they’re fortunate Seattle won one of them. That was pathetic. Some of those penalties were bogus but a lot of them were legit and undisciplined, befitting of a team lacking discipline. The Cowboys offense is great and Dak Prescott has been superb, but that was statistically one of the most efficient offensive performances of the entire NFL season.

And while Clint Hurtt needs to be under scrutiny for this season, this is ultimately Pete Carroll’s defense. The offense is a grayer area because he’s had outside hires for 100% of his offensive coordinators. All of his DCs were promoted from within, with the semi-exception of Dan Quinn returning to the coaching staff after a couple of years in college. His two greatest DCs aren’t even guys he technically hired! Jim Mora hired them and Carroll retained their services.

There is close to zero chance a Carroll defense ever becomes great again. I’m convinced of this more than ever.

Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs

Most expensive safety pairing in the NFL got torched against the pass. All. Game. Long. I love Quandre but the missed tackles are just too much to tolerate, and Adams got bossed by Jake Ferguson on what was the winning TD. There was a nice TFL by Adams on a run stop but otherwise this was shocking to watch.

Lots of decisions will have to be made this offseason at this position. One is a lot more expensive than the other, I’ll tell you that much.

Tre Brown, Riq Woolen, and Devon Witherspoon

No matter what you think of the officiating, which sucked ass, there were also some legit penalties agains Woolen and Brown at the very least. All of them were having a hard time dealing with CeeDee Lamb, and Witherspoon had a brutal missed tackle on a 3rd and 16. I’ve praised this cornerback group as the most exciting part of the defense, and I stand by that even after tonight, but they were owned. My props to Woolen is he upped his tackling game. Even if there were individually impressive plays, the totality of the CB group’s performance was sub-standard.

Tyler Lockett

Rare time I’m putting him in here, and perhaps harsh since he’s not 100%, but that drop right before the first 4th down failure was critical. He was open, he slipped, and dropped the ball that would’ve put Seattle in the red zone. I’m not sure he had a great route on the interception, either.

Lockett finished with 5 catches for 47 yards on 8 targets, and my hot take is that some of his targets need to start going to JSN. He’s earning it with each passing week, and the reason Seattle drafted JSN in Round 1 is because (at least to me) they view him as the long-term Lockett successor. Tyler’s a legend, but tonight was not his best night.

Charles Cross

Woof. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence are not easy assignments, but Cross was whiffing a ton. If not for Geno, Cross would’ve had a few sacks attributed to his instant pressures allowed. Then on the 4th and 1 run with Zach Charbonnet, Cross missed Lawrence completely and that’s all she wrote. Evan Brown was not too far behind for lackluster performance (some shaky snaps and a couple of blown blocks) but Cross was the worst OL performer on initial viewing.

Will Dissly

I love Uncle Will but he also botched his block on the Charbonnet run, so Cross had a partner in the self-destruction. He’s supposed to be the best blocking TE of the group.

Jason Myers

I guess Odd Year Myers is here again.

Myers has missed a career-high tying 7 field goals, and he’s now below 80% for the season on 32 attempts. Half of his misses have been indoors. He’s one of the most expensive kickers in the NFL and he’s not just inconsistent year-to-year, he’s inconsistent within seasons.

Shane Waldron on the last playcall

Come the f—k on, man. Know your damn personnel!

Officiating

These are two heavily penalized teams to begin with, so we should’ve seen this coming. Clete Blakeman’s crew could not have been any more flag-happy if they tried. The second pass interference on Riq Woolen was complete nonsense, as was the DPI on Bobby Wagner on Tony Pollard. I can live with and be annoyed by the obvious penalties, but when it’s micro-managed like that? It hurts the product. The officiating was not one-sided but it sure as hell was over-officiated. Also would’ve been nice to get that timeout acknowledged before that Myers missed field goal.

Final Notes

  • Devin Bush was up-and-down filling in for Jordyn Brooks. I’m being kind here. How does Seattle just have no depth at this position almost every year?
  • Bobby Wagner getting matched up with Brandin Cooks in open space when as well as you thought it would. Seattle finds themselves losing conceptually in pre-snap just too often to function properly.
  • I’m not mad about the loss but I am mad that the defense wasted an objectively great offensive performance. That could kill the entire season, unless the Seahawks have it in them to win (realistically) 4 of their final 5 games. What stings is that I do not expect the offense to replicate this outing again, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they prove me wrong.
  • The Seahawks should be applauded for taking Dallas to the brink when they haven’t lost a home game since Week 1 of 2022. Sadly, moral victories are not actual victories, and while I’m a little more optimistic about how the rest of the season will go, the truth of the matter is Seattle’s just not a good team. They’re not one of the worst, but they’re not one of the best, and they haven’t been for years. I do not know when they’ll be great once more, but in order to make the playoffs this year, they just have to be “good enough” over the final five weeks. The problem? I don’t think these Seahawks have earned the trust that they’re capable of being “good enough” in the home stretch of the season. That’s ultimately damning of the coaching staff.