With offenses that have already proven they can chew up yards and put up points, as well as defenses that indeed have a few question marks, everyone assumed the Dallas Cowboys' matchup at the Seattle Seahawks would be a shootout.
It lived up to the billing, as the Cowboys put up 522 yards of offense and reached the end zone four times, but fell to the home Seahawks, 38-31.
Of course, the Cowboys knew they would be in for a tough day against Russell Wilson and Seattle's high-potent offense. A banged up secondary and a defensive line that has struggled to get pressure was facing a quarterback who is in the early running for league MVP honors. Not exactly a recipe for success.
But the Dallas defense did its best to keep up, reeling off four sacks, three by the resurgent Aldon Smith, many of which were thanks to solid coverage. For all the good, though, there was certainly some bad as the Cowboys didn't help themselves with penalties, turnovers and poor special teams play. In a game that demanded they be perfect, the Cowboys were anything but.
Case in point, the first quarter was a seesaw of emotions that saw some terrific plays from the Cowboys as well as some truly awful ones, the result an improbable 9-9 tie after the first 15 minutes of play. Dallas opened the scoring with a 43-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein on their its possession of the game, but then in the span of just three plays, the Cowboys simply handed Seattle points.
The sorry sequence began when Wilson, on the Seahawks' next drive, connected with speedy receiver Tyler Lockett, who raced behind the Dallas secondary for a 43-yard touchdown. Going from bad to worse, Tony Pollard then muffed the ensuing kickoff, recovering his own fumble at the Cowboys' 1-yard line.
On the very next snap, Ezekiel Elliott slipped trying to break out of the end zone, providing the Seahawks a safety. Just like that, Dallas was down 9-3.
But the Cowboys shook off that series of mishaps, forced Seattle to punt on its next try and then managed to get into the end zone themselves on their next possession. Dak Prescott hit both CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper for identical 28-yard gains in marching his offense 65 yards in eight plays. Elliott got the honors, plunging in from 1-yard out, although Zuerlein clanked the extra point off the goalpost , which brought about the early and unconventional tie.
The Cowboys even caught a break when Wilson then promptly connected with DK Metcalf, who had beaten cornerback Trevon Diggs for what appeared to be a 63-yard touchdown. But the rookie Diggs didn't give up, sprinting to knock the ball out of Metcalf's hands and through the back of the end zone for a touchback.
Still, when Wilson wasn't picking apart the Dallas secondary, the Cowboys defense seemingly picking apart itself. Three penalties on Seattle's next series negated a sack, an interception and gave the Seahawks first and goal. One play later, Wilson tossed an easy one to Lockett to push the lead to 16-9.
Prescott was able to get his team to the end zone again, hitting Cooper for 13 and 22 yards before finding Cedrick Wilson over the middle, the receiver breaking down the right sideline for a big 40-yard touchdown. However, the Cowboys' day would take a turn for the worse from there.
It started with Zuerlein's extra point attempt, which was blocked this time, another discouraging effort for a special teams unit that was expected to be better this year. But then, in a span of less than two minutes of game clock, the Cowboys went from one point behind to an unsightly 15-point deficit.
A rare interception by Prescott gave Seattle the ball at the Dallas 34-yard line, and five plays later, Lockett was once again wide open for an easy pitch and catch and a touchdown right before the half, the first time in NFL history that a game went into the break with a 23-15 score.
Of course, the Cowboys knew that Russell Wilson was 57-0 when leading by at least four points after two quarters, and that Seattle was outscoring opponents 28-3 in the third quarter so far this season. Meaning, Dallas needed to come out strong in the second half.
So much for that. On the first play of the third frame, Prescott was strip-sacked, the Seahawks recovering the ball at the Cowboys' 5-yard line. Wilson then needed just two plays to cross the goal line again, the score now 30-15.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the clock hitting zeroes. Dallas suddenly found another gear. And they did it the hard way, starting their next three possessions from their own 6, 11 and 6-yard lines. Despite how far they needed to travel, the Cowboys put points on the board each time to take back the lead.
With the offensive line shuffling around – left guard Zack Martin moving to right tackle for the rookie Terence Steele, center Joe Looney moving to left guard and rookie Tyler Biadasz coming in at center – the Cowboys fought their way back.
Prescott and Cedrick Wilson hooked up again for another long touchdown, this one 42-yards, to pull within eight points, and then with the clock ticking over into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went on the move again. Another big throw, this time a 43-yarder to Michael Gallup, capped a nine-play, 89-yard drive to pay dirt. Due to the team's extra point failures earlier, Dallas was forced to go for the two-point conversion, but receiver Noah Brown was stopped short of the end zone, no good.
Still, it was back to a two-point game, 30-28, and the Cowboys had the momentum. So much so that they added points to the board on their third consecutive possession, this a 42-yard field goal from Zuerlein to put Dallas in the lead with just a tick under four minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately, the good vibes wouldn't last. That was more than enough time for Russell Wilson, who took advantage, quickly working to the Dallas 29-yard line. There, on third-and-3, Wilson, with all kinds of time in the pocket, found Metcalf in the end zone for the touchdown. Seattle actually failed on its first try of a two-point conversion, but a penalty on Trysten Hill for roughing the passer gave them another shot and this time the Seahawks converted to go back on top, 38-31.
Which would prove to be enough. The Cowboys got the ball back with 1:47 remaining and were able to get into Seattle territory. But a last-gasp pass to the end zone was intercepted by the Seahawks, game over.
As far as the game within the game, Prescott vs. Wilson, both quarterbacks were impressive. Wilson continued his MVP march with five touchdown passes and 315 passing yards for a passer rating of 130.7. For his part, Prescott totaled 472 yards with three touchdowns for a passer rating of 93.6, but also had two interceptions and a fumble in the loss.
Which was much like the team itself. Good in many ways, but not good enough with too many miscues and missed chances dooming the Cowboys and dropping their record to 1-2.
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