Of course, Dallas knew it would have a tough test in this, the third game of the young season. The team was facing a desperate Seahawks club, who came into the day having yet to win a game. Throw in that Seattle was 14-1 in their last 15 home openers and the Cowboys were in for a battle.
It was a battle they unfortunately did not win.
In losing 24-13 to the Seahawks, Dallas was unable to muster much of anything on offense until late in the game when the outcome already seemed decided. The Cowboys finished with 303 yards of total offense, but 149 of that production came in the fourth quarter when the team was trailing by 18 points. They also continued a discouraging trend on third downs, converting only 3 of 13 chances, a success rate of just 23 percent.
Quarterback Dak Prescott struggled to mount any kind of aerial attack. He finished with 168 yards passing, completing 55.9 percent of his attempts with two interceptions for a disappointing 54.5 passer rating. In fairness, he was under constant pressure throughout the game and was sacked a total of five times.
And although he rushed for a career-high 45 yards on seven tries the week before against the Giants, Prescott had just two carries in this game at Seattle, both of which came in the fourth quarter, for 21 yards.
The ground game was left to Ezekiel Elliott, who on paper had a good game, racking up 127 rushing yards while averaging 7.9 yards per carry. He had runs of 19, 21, 26 and 19 yards, but he also had a key mental mistake in the second quarter that negated a touchdown and a fumble in the fourth that came after a 26-yard gain.
On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense played well before general fatigue eventually brought their downfall. Seattle totaled 295 yards of offense with quarterback Russell Wilson held largely in check with 192 yards passing. He did, however, toss two touchdowns and didn't turn the ball over once, finishing with a 109.8 passer rating.
He also had help, as the Seahawks saw running back Chris Carson churn out 102 yards rushing, the first opponent to top the 100-yard mark against Dallas this season.
The longer the game went on, though, the more effective Carson was. It was a defensive struggle early on as neither offense could do much of anything in the first quarter. But on their first possession of the second frame, the Seahawks went on a 10-play, 64-yard drive that provided the game's initial points. During the series, Seattle converted three third downs while Wilson connected on passes of 12, 19 and 16 yards, the last of which found receiver Jaron Brown in the end zone for the touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys were able to quickly respond with three points of their own, thanks to Brett Maher slipping one inside the uprights from 50 yards, but it felt like an opportunity lost. Dallas missed out on equaling the score when a wide open Elliott was flagged for the mistake of stepping out of bounds before catching a would-be touchdown pass.
That disappointment was then compounded on the Seahawks' next series. First, Jeff Heath, the Cowboys' top safety, had to leave the game for a short time with an apparent left ankle injury. Shortly thereafter, Wilson took advantage, dropping a perfect pass into the hands Tyler Lockett, who was streaking down the right sideline. The wideout raced by safety Kavon Frazier and into the end zone for a 14- 3 lead.
And things only went from bad to worse before the half. After Dallas had yet another three-and-out, Seattle got an 18-yard punt return to set up shop at its own 42-yard line. The Cowboys, though, seemingly had them stopped at the Dallas 44-yard which would have forced a field goal try in the final seconds of more than 60 yards.
But after the Seahawks' final offensive play, defensive end Randy Gregory was penalized for his own mental error, an unnecessary roughness call after he shoved a Seattle lineman in the facemask right in front of the official. That gave the home team an extra 15 yards and a more reasonable 47-yard field goal try. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski was good and the Seahawks went into the break with a comfortable 17-3 advantage.
After two quarters of play, the Cowboys had managed only 92 yards of total offense and were a dismal 1-for-7 on third down opportunities. At this point, Prescott had completed just 46.2 percent of his pass attempts for a paltry 40 yards, with one interception and two sacks. Conversely, the Seahawks already had 202 yards of offense and were finding success on 60 percent of their third down tries.
The Cowboys were finally able to get on the move again midway through the third quarter, as Elliott got things going with a 21-yard gain around the right end. Prescott also completed all four of his pass attempts for 27 yards, but the drive eventually stalled at the Seahawks' 17-yard line after Prescott was sacked for the fourth time in the game. Out came Maher, his 35-yard attempt good to make the score 17-6.
But with linebacker Sean Lee now sidelined – he came into the game nursing a sore hamstring – and the defense steadily wearing down, the Seahawks marched right down the field on a 10-play, 72-yard drive. Carson got the touchdown honors, capping things off with a dash up the middle for the final 5 yards. Although there was still more than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game was essentially over, 24-6.
The Cowboys showed they had some fight left in them, though. Starting at its own 43-yard line, Dallas was able to reach the end zone in just five plays. Elliott got things going with a 19-yard run before Prescott found Michael Gallup for a 17-yard gain. Prescott's 10-yard run and two Seattle penalties set the Cowboys up at the Seattle 3-yard line, where a shovel pass to Tavon Austin took the team to the end zone.
With the score narrowed to 24-13, Dallas mounted yet another attack and worked its way down to the Seattle 19-yard line. But a Prescott pass to tight end Blake Jarwin was knocked up in the air, only to have Seahawks safety Earl Thomas come down with the prize, his second interception of the game.
And with that, the Cowboys day was done, the loss dropping the team to 1-2 on the season. They'll now return home to host the Detroit Lions at noon next Sunday at AT&T Stadium.