As pretty as Russell Wilson's final stat line looked Sunday – 315 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, no interceptions – Aldon Smith and the Cowboys' defensive front didn't make it easy for him.
Wilson was hit eight times and sacked four times, mostly by Smith. The veteran defensive end, back from nearly a five-year absence that included an NFL suspension, posted one of his best games since entering the league in 2011 as a first-round draft pick by San Francisco.
Smith had four hits on Wilson and three sacks in Sunday's 38-31 loss, his highest sack total since Nov. 19, 2012 when he had 5.5 against Chicago on his way to a career-best 19.5 that season.
"I feel like I try to bring my A game every time I go out and play," he said. "I work well with the other guys and we work well with each other. Rushing is a team effort, especially with this quarterback. If it wasn't for the other guys playing their roles and doing things, it would have been much tougher for me to make some plays out there."
Sunday, Smith (51.5 career sacks) became just the seventh player in NFL history to reach 50 sacks in 62 or fewer games. The rest of the list includes Hall of Famers and/or great pass rushers: Reggie White, Derrick Thomas, Von Miller, Justin Houston, J.J. Watt and Dwight Freeney.
Smith continued to line up in different spots in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's scheme, using power moves to push the pocket and force Wilson into scrambles or rushed throws.
"I thought for the most part we did a great job keeping him in the pocket," Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought the challenge for second-reaction rush was a bit challenging the way the play was expanded and the way they were able to hold on to us and extend those plays even when we did a great job keeping him in the pocket. I thought it was a good plan."
The Cowboys gave up 38 points for a variety of reasons: busted coverages, offensive turnovers and special teams miscues. But the defense settled down in the second half and held Seattle to 144 total yards.
Something to build on moving forward.
"I feel like I said this earlier in the week in regards to the scheme and our defense and where we're at, I feel as is if we can keep improving each week. That's the main goal," Smith said. "I think if we are going backward and not getting better, then we obviously can talk about a lot of different things. But right now, with where we're at, I do feel that we're getting better and growing each week."
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