IRVING, Texas – Leftover notes from the Seattle tape, including Travis Frederick's big day against Brandon Mebane and the Dallas defense's outstanding effort against Percy Harvin. I also took a look at some of the Cowboys' special teams breakdowns.
- If you were to ask me before the game which Cowboys offensive linemen was going to have the most difficult blocking assignment throughout the day against the Seahawks, I would have said Travis Frederick.
There are some outstanding nose tackles and one-techniques in the league, but Brandon Mebane is as tough as it comes. For the Cowboys to have any success running the ball, Frederick was going to have to find a way to block Mebane and not allow him to become a disruptive force inside. What was interesting in studying the game is there were several snaps where Frederick had to reach hard to the front or side and snatch Mebane before he got up the field, which is a task in itself, but he was able to pull it off.
Frederick did not allow Mebane to work him flat along the line of scrimmage and into the path of the backs. Throughout the day, he was able to work his feet and hands together well and by sustaining his blocks this way it allowed the backs to either take the ball hard front side or bend it back behind him for some solid gains.
- I wrote on Sunday night how I was glad to see the Cowboys continue to run their offense despite Richard Sherman shadowing Dez Bryant for the entire second half.
It was a battle on the outside, and there were some snaps where Bryant was able to run his routes and bought himself a little space to operate. Late in the first half, Bryant took Sherman out of the right slot and was able to run him across the field -- which is an ideal situation due to Sherman's lack of foot speed. If Bryant had kept his balance on the play, which resulted in a questionable flag on Sherman for tripping, it's a touchdown.
Later in the game, with the offense facing a 3rd-and-5 to keep a drive alive, Bryant once again executed another perfect route, but this time Sherman was able to work himself into position to defend the play. When the ball went into the air, I thought Sherman had a chance to make the play because of how well he normally plays those types of passes. But what was different this time was that Bryant was able to get vertical before Sherman had a chance to react, which allowed him to snatch the ball it right out of the air for the first down.
Later in the drive DeMarco Murray scored on a 15-yard run to put the Cowboys ahead for good.
- I really wasn't sure how this Cowboys defense was going to handle – not just Russell Wilson and his ability to make plays in space -- but I was equally worried about Percy Harvin and the problems that he might create.
With the way that Harvin moves around in the formation, it makes it very difficult to match him. There are so many other areas on the Seahawks offense where you have to focus. What really stood out on the tape was the total and absolute focus that this Cowboys defense had on where Harvin was in the formation, but also how quick they were to the ball when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called his number.
Rod Marinelli's troops played Harvin like they were in the Seattle huddle with him. It was only six days before that Harvin scored from three different spots in this offense against the Redskins, but the Cowboys would have none of that. The tone was set very early in the game when Wilson handed him the ball out of the backfield going left and Jeremy Mincy, Tyrone Crawford and Justin Durant all beat blocks and tackled him for a loss.
There was a snap before the half where Bevell called for a quick screen to Harvin, but Orlando Scandrick read the play perfectly and was able to cut under the block and force him backward until Brandon Carr and Rolando McClain could rally to finish the play. It was an incredible defensive effort to take one of the most explosive players in the league completely out of the game and make him a total non-factor.
- You have to give the Seahawks a great deal of credit for what they were able to accomplish on their punt return to get that punt blocked, scheme-wise.
Doug Baldwin, who was on the outside over the top of Dwayne Harris on the Cowboys' left side, timed his run perfectly and was up the field just as the ball was snapped, and he was able to get a free run at Chris Jones. It appeared that the Cowboys had enough blockers to handle the situation, but Michael Morgan was able to get inside of Korey Toomer -- who appeared to try and block two on the play but got turned.
Jeff Heath was put in a bad spot where he was caught between taking Morgan as the first threat or bouncing outside to try and deflect the onrushing Baldwin. Heath let the furthest man from the ball, Baldwin, go and went on to block Morgan. It was really a no-win situation for Heath, because he had to try and protect the middle and hope that Jones was able to see Baldwin and hopefully adjust to get the punt off.
Unfortunately the rush was too good and the result was a Seahawks touchdown.