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ARLINGTON, TX — Anyone who has paid attention to either of these two teams knew they were in for a battle in prime time. The Dallas Cowboys marched in with a 12-game win streak at home and have been demolishing all opposition in the process, but the Seattle Seahawks proved in the first half of the season that they were a dangerous club.
The two-game slide the Seahawks were reeling from only served as more motivation to march into Arlington and give the Cowboys all they could handle, and they did exactly that. It was a shootout from the minute the ball was kicked into the air, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.
In the end, these 10 players put the Cowboys on their backs and willed them forward:
Dak Prescott, QB
Against one of the best secondaries in the NFL and certainly one of the top-2 in the NFC, Prescott was surgical in the first half, effectively having his way in the air and balancing it with effective and timely runs that kept the defense off-balance. Passing for two touchdowns and more than 200 yards with no interceptions by halftime gives indication that he is absolutely worthy of being in the MVP conversation, and the second half didn't do anything to negate this thought. His touchdown drive and subsequent two-point conversion to give the Cowboys a 38-35 lead with less than five minutes to play was art that should be hung in The Louvre.
DaRon Bland, CB
He's had better outings this season, but Bland eventually said enough was enough. Geno Smith targeted him heavily throughout the contest and it finally bit Smith in the backside late in the third quarter. That's when Smith dropped back on 3rd-and-7 and aimed toward Tyler Lockett only to discover Bland had jumped the route to grab his eighth interception of the season. The Cowboys offense couldn't get points off of the turnover, but Bland did his job on the drive prior.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
Getting him involved early was clearly the gameplan for the Cowboys, and Lamb, as usual, rewarded them for that decision. The All-Pro receiver got into his groove and played loose throughout the entire game, against a superb secondary. Lamb amassed 82 yards by halftime, along with a 15-yard touchdown on the second offensive drive that gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead in a dogfight with the Seahawks. A critical drop muddied his evening, but the Cowboys wouldn't have been close at all if not for his efforts in combination with others. He's now the first player in franchise history with eight games of 10+ receptions in the first four seasons of a career, and he did it as a quasi-halfback as well (the 24-yard endaround with the game on the line in the fourth quarter tells that tale).
Jake Ferguson, TE
The connection between Ferguson and Prescott is well-established at this point in the season, and it feels as if defenses tend to forget about it due to the dominance of Lamb and the presence of Brandin Cooks. All it took was a couple of impact plays by Ferguson and one hurdle over a defender to remind everyone that the former second-round pick is here for the smoke, in whatever form it might arrive. He's become a lethal safety valve for Prescott. See the aforementioned late fourth-quarter touchdown from Prescott for reference.
Micah Parsons, W (Weapon)
In one way or another, Parsons is going to impact the game. When he isn't doing it by getting his hands dirty, he's doing it by drawing double teams that free up his compatriots to apply pressure. It was a difficult task to get hands on Geno Smith in the backfield on Thursday night, but Parsons made sure the pressure was felt, and in run defense especially, and his takedown on Smith on the second drive for the Seahawks forced a throwaway that preceded a false start penalty and then a missed field goal. The lion will find a way to change games, weekly. And teams will likely think better, now, of leaving him unblocked with the game on the line, isn't that right, Pete?
Brandon Aubrey, K
News dropped on Thursday morning that Prescott and DaRon Bland were both named NFC Players of the Month, but it feels like it should've been a trifecta and clean sweep. Aubrey continues to torch the NFL in his rookie season, lengthening his streak of made field goals long after shattering the record weeks ago. He's the hottest, and one of the strongest, boots in the league and a very real weapon for the Cowboys. It also helps that he's insanely clutch.
Brandin Cooks, WR
For yet another week, you can add Cooks to this list, as he's really come on strong in the Texas Coast offense in the month of November. He was second only to Lamb in receiving yards by the Cowboys at halftime, and helped moved the chains as well — including in moments when Prescott needed it most. The archer put an arrow into the scoreboard as well when he delivered a seven-yard touchdown on second-and-goal in the second quarter to give Dallas a 17-7 lead.
Jourdan Lewis, CB
Lewis had his hands full with the fast, quick and shifty wideout out of Ohio State, namely Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but it was the veteran cornerback who got the last laugh — twice. With the game essentially on the line and the Cowboys' struggling defense needing a stop, Lewis flew in to the rescue to break up a pass to JSN on third down late in the fourth quarter and, on the next drive, did it again on yet another third down. The Seahawks were unsuccessful on both subsequent fourth-down attempts and Prescott went on to do the rest; but do not forget the two plays when Lewis became a superhero.
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE
I'm not sure when his haters will finally decide to come out of their cave and into the sunlight, but what I do know is they're starting to resemble Gollum, at this point. Lawrence's ability to disrupt as a pass rusher is evident, but his ability to continually be arguably the best run-defender at the edge is nasty work. On one of the critical fourth-down stops, with only one yard needed for the Seahawks to keep their drive going, Lawrence teleported into the backfield to take down Zach Charbonnet for a loss of yardage. I guess you could say the Seahawks eventually got hit by a Tank.
Osa Odighizuwa, DL
As noted, getting home on Geno Smith was a challenge for the Cowboys, given his mobility and size but, for the most part, the defensive line won plenty of their matchups. Odighizuwa was especially effective in the run game, helping to keep a lid on Zach Charbonnet for the majority of the game; and that included a five-yard tackle for loss in the second quarter. Charbonnet would later get on the board with a touchdown, but he severely lacked any big plays by the time the second half rolled around, or for much of the game as a whole.
Johnathan Hankins, DL
One week ago, Hankins had his way with the Commanders on Thanksgiving to the tune of multiple sacks. That was an aberration for the big-bodied nose stopper and, as such, it shouldn't be the expectation on weekly basis. What should be, however, is his continued ability to stop the run and he did all he could against the Seahawks to keep Charbonnet from doing any damage up the interior gaps. Hankins is having a great year,
Tony Pollard, RB
It was rough sledding for Pollard but he found a way to make his touches count when they mattered most. The tiring run defense of the Seahawks began to soften as the game went along and, as such, Pollard was able to begin stretching out his handoffs. But it was his quick pass to the right flat in the third quarter that he turned into a six-yard touchdown to shrink the lead to one point — answering the Seahawks touchdown drive that preceded it — to keep it a dogfight.