ARLINGTON, Texas – One great individual play on defense.
Four solid field goals. One block on the other side.
And maybe a handful of other good plays defensively.
That's all you've really got from a positive standpoint out of this game. It was an ugly game with another ugly ending for the Cowboys, who have now dipped into an even uglier state called a five-game losing streak.
Yeah, we knew the Seahawks would be a tough team to score on. And yeah, the Cowboys even had the lead with less than two minutes to play.
But just like this team has failed to step up overall in the absence of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the defense didn't step up in the fourth quarter when they desperately needed a stop. And it's too bad it came down to that kind of desperation because you just knew the Cowboys had no shot of driving into field-goal range with no timeouts.
Running backs seek 100-yard games. It's a quality day for receivers, too. But for quarterbacks, it's borderline pathetic.
Matt Cassel did the best he could, which might be the problem. Seriously, I'd like to find the last time a starting quarterback had a game where his longest rush (24 yards) far exceeded his longest completion, which was just 15 yards.
Ok, I get it. The Seahawks are good on defense, but they're not that good. This big-bad defense has led them to a 4-4 record halfway through the season.
Then again, what the Cowboys wouldn't give to be sitting around .500 at this point. With each loss that gets stacked on the team's plate, it's becoming tougher and tougher to expect Tony Romo to save the season when he comes back.
But that's for another time. Let's get back to this mess, and that's really what we've got on our hands.
I mean, yeah, the Cowboys covered the spread – if that matters. They fared better than the experts said they would. But moral victories will get you a moral vacation when the regular season is over.
No one wants this team to play it close anymore. This team can't afford that. That's what happens when you go to New Orleans and lose. That's what happens when you don't take care of the football in New York last week.
And that's what happens when Greg Hardy gives you a gift with a spectacular turnover and gives the Cowboys a prime opportunity to score inside the 20. The Cowboys just couldn't punch it in against this group.
The funny part is that all week I've been told this Seahawks defense isn't as good as last year's group. Man, if that's the case, just how far has this Cowboys' offense dropped? A year ago, the Cowboys went up there and knocked those dudes right in the mouth and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Certainly didn't go like that this time around. The Cowboys couldn't push the pile when they needed to, especially in the second half.
But let's question the play-calling as well. There were some times when the Cowboys did get some movement up front and ran well. But play-calling is always a guessing game, and when it came down to third-down plays, the Cowboys rarely won the chess match.
A key example of that was two plays after Hardy's pick. Darren McFadden had just rushed for 4 yards, setting up a second-and-6 from the Seattle 12. But that's when they opted to get Cole Beasley involved with a screen pass to the right. It was Beasley's only target of the day and he either didn't have the right depth on the play or the pass was poor. Either way, the Cowboys missed a chance to pick up critical yards, and after a failing to convert on third down, it was back to another field goal.
While the Cowboys were able to make this kick, giving them their first lead of the game, it was almost like a win, literally, for the Seahawks. Even a gift interception didn't result in a damaging play for Seattle and with that, I pretty much thought that was the Cowboys' only shot.
They get another break with a blocked field goal by David Irving, giving them the ball and the lead. But this team doesn't have the killer instinct right now. When it's there for the taking, they don't have the ability to grab it.
They got to the hump in the first half against Atlanta, but couldn't stop Julio Jones. They got to the hump to force overtime in New Orleans, but couldn't stop the running back out of the flat. They got back there again in New York to tie the game, but couldn't stop a not-that-fast kick returner from scoring the game-winner.
And they got back to the hump yet again Sunday, with the lead and the ball in the fourth quarter. Three-and-out on three straight runs? And that was the game.
If you're going to be positive here, give this team credit for bringing the fight. But again, that shouldn't be something these players and coaches get applauded for.
Right now, this team has no problem getting to the hump each week. They just have no way of getting over it.
Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*