SEATTLE – This is the kind of game we all expected, right?
One team with an aggressive defense that got after the quarterback all day and made him look confused at times and not on the same page with his receivers.
The other team with a poised quarterback who didn't make any mistakes and got the benefit of a power running game with a tailback that got better as the game went on.
In the end, a 20-point victory by the team that was clearly better.
Yes, that's how we thought this one might go, just with the two teams switching roles.
This game kicked off at about 1:08 p.m. out in Seattle. By 1:09, the tone was set and the Seahawks never looked back.
Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7 and it was never really in doubt.
Sure, once the Cowboys came back from a 10-point hole and got it to 10-7 and had the ball back, we all thought this thing would get turned around and back on track. It reminded me a lot of the San Francisco game last year in Week 2. A slow start, some adversity, but then Tony Romo and the guys just found a way.
There was no way this time. So why did this Cowboys team simply have no shot to win this game?
Was it offense, or defense, or what about the special teams?
Yes. How about all three.
It sounds like typical football rhetoric, but it's never been truer than this time around – the Cowboys were beaten in all three phases. Some might say beaten up.
It's hard to get a proud football player to admit after the game they were physically beaten by the opponent, but it's even harder not to think that's exactly what happened.
From the first few plays of the game, you could tell how chippy it was out there. In the press box, I even told a couple colleagues just how much this game seemed like a division matchup because of all the animosity and after-the-whistle pushing and shoving. That was just the first half. In the second half, the hits got harder (and cheaper) … but make no mistake it was physical from the start.
And for the most part, it was the Seahawks laying the wood. They were hitting with some intensity all game long, starting with the opening kickoff when Felix Jones got smacked and lost the ball. That fumble led to a field goal. On the next drive, it was a quick three-and-out and the Seahawks dominated the punt rush to get a block and a touchdown.
Who know that was all the Seahawks would need?
More importantly, who knew the Seahawks would be able to physically work this team over like they did? Not me. Not at all.
While the Giants' game was simply just ONE game … the one impressive aspect from that victory was how the Cowboys handled adversity. How they were able to respond from any incident and not just accept it, but overcome it.
Aside from the first defensive stand to hold Seattle to just a field goal after the quick fumble, that really didn't happen on this day. The Cowboys didn't show the same fight and fortitude to rally when the chips were down.
We kept waiting for it, and it never came.
Special teams will take a big share of the blame. Felix Jones fumbled the kickoff and the ensuing punt was blocked for a score. It was 10-0 right off the bat – all on special teams.
But the defense really wasn't that great either. Sure they made a few stops early on, but as the game continued it seemed like Seattle won the head-to-head chess match. They were able to keep rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in favorable situations all day, even without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who was inactive with a knee injury.
Before the game, I really thought that would be a big factor. I thought Seattle's backup tackle Frank Omiyale would have his hands full with DeMarcus Ware on the edge. And while he certainly did, it didn't happen as much as you might expect.
Just like the Giants did last week, the Seahawks were able to get Ware out of rushing on a few plays, especially on key third downs. I really don't understand how that happens as often as it does. Ware is the best pass rusher on the team, and arguably in the league. If it's third-and-8 and you want him to apply pressure, then call a defense that will have him do that.
Teams are rolling the tight end his way and sending him out in the route, which has to put Ware in coverage. Or the running back will sneak out and it'll be Ware's responsibility.
I'm not saying I'm an expert in how the 3-4 defense is run, but if offenses have the ability to get the opposing team's best pass rusher from rushing, that seems like a problem. And it was a problem in this game.
Ware said after the game he thought he rushed about 90 percent of the time. It certainly seemed like a few times Ware was out there in space – and once he was even flattened by one of those blindside cutback blocks. The one on Ware was physical, but legal.
The one on Sean Lee was ridiculous. More than just the cheap hit where Golden Tate launched himself with a helmet shot toward the head, but the fact he taunted afterward pointing to the back of his jersey - yeah, we see your name and the NFL has it, too, and your address. A fine will be coming there, if not more.
Another odd sight about that play was how excited Seattle's head coach Pete Carroll was afterwards. Then again, it's apparent that style of play is something he's trying to add for his team. I'm not talking about being a dirty team – that was just one hit. But Seattle was flying to the ball, flying to make blocks and flying around to do just about anything else all day.
The Seahawks out-hit, out-worked, out-schemed and consequently … outplayed the Cowboys from start to finish. Who knows which team is more talented? But it was clear which team was more physical. And like the final score, it really wasn't that close.