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Game Recap: Cowboys Defeat Defending Champs, 30-23

16 May 2018:   Views
during the Dallas Cowboys at the Reliant Home Run Derby charity competition at the Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.  Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys
16 May 2018: Views during the Dallas Cowboys at the Reliant Home Run Derby charity competition at the Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Folks, we just might have something special here.

Most were just hoping the Cowboys could simply be competitive in Seattle, perhaps gain a moral victory on the day. But behind an offense that was dominating at times and a defense that is suddenly the toast of the town, Dallas instead came from behind three different times to defeat the Seahawks, 30-23 … and on their home turf, no less.

In fact, if not for two critical mistakes on special teams, a blocked punt and a muff on another, which led to 14 Seattle points, the Cowboys could have conceivably won handily over the defending champs.

Give credit to a defense that was rated last in the league a year ago and wasn't expected to be much better this season. But Russell Wilson faced constant pressure and Seattle's receivers had little room to work. The result was only 126 yards passing with just a 50 percent completion percentage for the Seahawks quarterback.

Likewise, Seattle's vaunted running attack was stymied as they gained just 80 yards on the ground. Overall, the Dallas D held its opponent to just 206 total yards, nine first downs and only a 38 percent conversion rate on third downs.

On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys showed that there may not be a team in the NFL that can stop their offensive attack. Seattle came in as the No. 1 rated defense against the run, but behind a punishing offensive line, DeMarco Murray ran for 115 yards on 29 carries with Joseph Randle adding another 52 yards on five tries.

And Tony Romo was again efficient and dazzling when he needed to be, posting 250 yards through the air with two touchdown tosses. As he has done all season, the quarterback spread the ball around, as eight different receivers caught passes, Terrence Williams hauling in two for 70 yards with Dez Bryant chipping in four catches for 63. Also a threat in the passing game, Murray picked up another 31 yards on six catches.

Halfway into the first quarter, though, the Cowboys appeared to be headed for a long day. The Seahawks had marched 64 yards on their first possession before converting a 33-yard field goal for three points. That was then followed by Dallas having a punt blocked on their opening series, Seattle linebacker Mike Morgan scooping up the bouncing ball and running untouched 25 yards into the end zone. Before they hardly had time to get settled in, the Cowboys were already down, 10-0.

Two years ago, the Cowboys traveled to Seattle in Week 2, and also fell behind by 10 points less than five minutes into the game. And, they eventually rolled over in a 27-7 blowout loss.

This, however, is not your same Dallas Cowboys.

Refusing to back down, this time around Dallas dominated the rest of the first half, responding with drives of 80 yards, 71 and 80 yards, all of which resulted in points as the Cowboys came back to take the lead.

Despite the early deficit, the offense again refused to give up on the ground game and on the Cowboys' next possession, Murray and Randle combined for five carries for 50 yards, the big blow a run by the latter for 38 yards. Romo then capped off the drive with a 2-yard pass to Gavin Escobar in the middle of the end zone for the 7 points.

That led to the second quarter where the Cowboys simply manhandled the Seahawks. The Dallas defense, which was expected to struggle, did not allow a single first down in the frame.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense continued to balance their attack both on the ground and through the air. Their next possession, the team's first of the second quarter, started at the Dallas 5-yard line, but they steadily marched down the field, running 15 plays and eating up 9:45 of clock before Dan Bailey came in for a 42-yard field goal, the score now even again, 10-10.

With the field goal, Bailey became the most accurate kicker in NFL history, having finally reached the required number of kicks made.

And the momentum continued as the Cowboys again found paydirt on their next possession. Twice during the drive they faced third-and-long, but on each occasion, Romo found Lance Dunbar on a short pass underneath, the speedy back picking up the big gain to move the chains.

After the quarterback hit Bryant for 23 yards, a penalty pushing the ball to the Seattle 10-yard line, Romo found Jason Witten in the end zone three plays later to give the Cowboys' their first lead of the game, 17-10, heading into the break.

With that effort, the Cowboys also owned the stat sheet, outgaining the Seahawks 234 yards to 83, with 15 first downs to just three and a time of possession of 20:05 to 9:55.

But there was still 30 minutes to play, and although the defense did its part by shutting down the Seattle offense on its first possession, the normally reliable Dwayne Harris muffed the ensuing punt, the Seahawks recovering at the Dallas 14-yard line.

Two plays later, Wilson faked a handoff and went around the left end and across the goal line to tie the game once again, 17-17.

That got the crowd, which had largely been silenced, back into game and on the Cowboys' very next possession, center Travis Frederick and Romo miscommunicated on the snap, the ball falling to the turf where Seattle's Jordan Hill fell on it at the Dallas 20-yard line.

The Cowboys' defense was able to hold the Seahawks to a 33-yard field goal, although linebacker Kyle Wilber dropped an interception that could have resulted in a pick-six for Dallas the other way. Still, the Cowboys now found themselves down, 20-17.

But just as they did in the first quarter, the Cowboys refused to roll over. Starting at his own 19-yard line, Romo immediately threw deep to Williams, who hauled in the pass for a big 47-yard gain.

That would lead to Bailey again splitting the uprights, this time from an impressive 56 yards out, a career best, to bring the scoreboard even for the third time on the day, 20-20, which is where it remained heading into the deciding fourth quarter.

And things looked bleak when a Chris Jones punt out of his own end zone traveled only 35 yards, setting up Seattle with great field position at the Cowboys' 42-yard line. That soon resulted in a 48-yard field goal that again gave the home team the lead, 23-20.

But that's when the Cowboys went to work. Twice the offense converted third downs, the second on a third-and-20 when Williams made an incredible 23-yard sideline catch, dragging his toes inbounds to move the chains. Murray then took over, carrying the ball three straight times, the last a 15-yard run up the middle that put Dallas in the lead for good, 27-23.

When Seattle was then unsuccessful on fourth-and-6 from their own 23, the Cowboys took possession and needed only to run out the clock. While they weren't able to do so, by the time Bailey kicked the 31-yard field goal to up the advantage to 30-23, there was just 1:09 remaining in the game. [embedded_ad]

It was over seconds later. On his second play from scrimmage, Wilson tried to go deep over the middle, only to have Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain leap up for the interception, securing the win.

With the victory, the Cowboys improved to 5-1 on the season, their best record since the 2007 campaign. They'll now return to Dallas for three straight home games, hosting the rival New York Giants next Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

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