One quarterback has taken his team to the Super Bowl the last two years. The other is a backup, filling in for the injured starter.
And in the end, that might have been the difference as Seattle's Russell Wilson got his team into the end zone while the Cowboys' Matt Cassel could not, the Seahawks coming away with a 13-12 victory in front of 91,486 fans.
Not that Wilson's play was exponentially better. He finished the game completing only 19-of-30 passes for 210 yards, throwing both a touchdown an interception. He also ran the ball six times for another 32 yards.
The Dallas defense seemingly did its part. Although Seattle came in with the more-heralded unit, the case could be made that the Cowboys defense outplayed them, as they held the defending NFC champions to just the lone touchdown. The Seahawks totaled 323 yards and held possession for 29:38 while Dallas put up 220 yards with a slight advantage of 30:22.
Still, this showed again how much the Cowboys clearly miss Tony Romo, the loss to the Seahawks marking at least the third game and possibly fourth since his absence that Dallas could have won. Cassel threw for a paltry 97 yards on 13-of-25 passing without a touchdown, while running for 43 yards on four carries.
If not for the efforts of Dan Bailey, who was good on four field goal attempts, the Cowboys would have been shut out. They've now scored just two touchdowns in their last three games, both of those coming a week ago in their loss at the Giants.
In the early going of this game, things remained relatively quiet with the defenses largely dominating. Each side put up a field goal on its opening possession, but not until Seattle got the ball with 9:07 left in the second quarter did the offenses finally seem to wake up.
Exposing the Cowboys' middle, Wilson connected on a pass of 19 yards to tight end Luke Wilson down the seam to get into Cowboys territory, and then threw a short completion to Doug Baldwin for 11 more. The quarterback finished out the drive by going back up the seam to Luke Wilson, who rumbled to the end zone for a 10-3 lead.
Dallas responded by putting up a 63-play drive of their own, thanks to Cassel and his … legs? Twice the quarterback was forced to scramble, but he broke loose for gains of 24 and 12 yards, each time moving the chains. Unfortunately, though, the Cowboys stalled out at the Seattle 17 and were forced to settle for another three points, going into the half trailing 10-6.
There was a scary moment right before the break when during coverage of a Seattle punt, Ricardo Lockette took a hard block from Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, the blow leaving Lockette lying motionless on the field for several minutes. He was eventually carted off on a stretcher for precautionary reasons, but did have full movement, having suffered a concussion.
The Cowboys opened the second half by tacking on another three points, this time a 52-yarder from Bailey, that narrowed the deficit to just one. But, they had to be somewhat disappointed in the result, as a 25-yard run by McFadden that would have put Dallas inside the Seattle 5-yard line was instead negated by a penalty.
And then, with only seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Cowboys finally got that elusive turnover. With Seattle at its own 34-yard line, defensive end Greg Hardy tipped a Wilson pass attempt at the line of scrimmage, then came down with the interception himself, Dallas taking over possession at the visitor's 16. It was the team's first turnover since recording three at Philadelphia in Week 2.
However, the Cowboys couldn't take advantage of the gift as the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter. Once again they failed to get into the end zone, even having to burn a timeout in the process, although Bailey did at least give them a 12-10 lead, the sure-footed kicker good with a 27-yard field goal.
From that point on, the only question seemed to be, could the Cowboys hold on? Especially with their offense struggling to reach the end zone. They caught a break on Seattle's next possession when 6'7" David Irving blocked a potential 47-yard field goal. And then what would have been a 62-yard punt return for the Seahawks was brought back thanks to a penalty.
But it seemed only a matter of time and after that, Wilson took control. With his team starting at its own 15-yard line and 6:41 left on the clock, the quarterback marched the Seahawks 79 yards in 17 plays and 5:35 of time, reaching the Dallas 6-yard line. During the drive, Wilson threw four passes for 43 yards and also ran the ball three times for 25 more. That left it to Steven Hauschka, who then kicked a chip-shot 24-yard field goal to give Seattle the win, 13-12.
With the defeat, the Cowboys losing streak has now reached five games, the team falling further in the NFC East standings. They'll now hope to reverse the trend against rival Philadelphia in a prime-time showdown next Sunday night.