SEATTLE – Questions abound, but answers are hard to come by.
If there's a theme for the Cowboys' offensive performance in Sunday's 24-13 loss to Seattle on Sunday, that's probably it – searching for answers.
"We just never could get our rhythm offensively," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "When we had to respond and got behind, we obviously couldn't do it. That's disappointing."
This loss was a bit of a different look, though. Typically, when opponents shut down the Dallas offense, they do so by limiting Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game.
Running the ball wasn't an issue on Sunday, as Elliott ripped off 127 yards on 16 carries, and the Cowboys ran for 166 yards as a team.
Instead, it appeared once again to be an anemic passing game that sunk the offense, as Dak Prescott threw for just 166 yards – an average of 4.9 yards per attempt – and two interceptions. Talking to reporters after the game, Prescott came up with a laundry list of problems on that end.
"A couple of things were the reason," he said. "I've got to be more accurate. I've got to be more consistent at making throws. We've got to get open. You can go all the way across the board. We've just got to do better as a whole as an offense, but it starts with me."
This performance at CenturyLink Field looked fairly familiar to his Week 1 showing at Bank of America Stadium, when the Cowboys were held to just eight points in a loss to Carolina.
Prescott looked arguably more accurate this time around, but the Dallas offense was just as sloppy. The Cowboys went 3-of-13 on third down, and they were flagged four times on offense – one of which wiped an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown off the board. It was a different set of circumstances, but a familiar problem that emphasized the Cowboys' inability to stay ahead of the chains.
Without having watches the game again, it was a mystery Prescott couldn't account for.
"I've got to go back and look at this game on the tape and see what exactly the reason is before I try to pinpoint one specific part of our game or our offense of why the third downs didn't work, but we've got to do better converting those third-and-shorts first and then keeping ourselves in third-and-short and not necessarily third-and-long," he said.
When he has a chance to watch, he'll likely see a lot of things – many of them not pretty. Michael Gallup bobbled a first down pass that became an Earl Thomas interception. Later, Prescott threw behind Blake Jarwin on a ball that was eventually intercepted – again, by Thomas.
It all added up to another lackluster performance. And it won't take an expert to notice that it didn't involve much in the way of downfield passing. The Cowboys' longest gain through the air was just 20 yards, which was not enough to sustain many drives.
"I don't think we've just attacked that area enough, simple as that," Prescott said. "I don't necessarily say they're taking it away as much as we haven't tried them enough."
On top of that, pressure and pocket presence probably aren't helping. The Seahawks' defensive front harried the third-year signal caller into five sacks – a number that Prescott wasn't willing to place all on his offensive line.
"Any time that I get hit or pressured, I'm not thinking it's the line," he said. "Sometimes, I've got to go back – in the past, sometimes it's been self-pressured so before I say it's this or that, I've got to watch the film."
For his part, Jones remains patient. This is the third-straight game in which his offense has been less than explosive – and the second time it has contributed to a loss. But when he was asked about his confidence in his team's coaching and play calling, he remained firm.
"There's no vote of confidence, there's no lack of confidence, there's no anything. We're 1-2," Jones said. "We're not hitting on all cylinders. I have a lot of confidence that we can get in games and help ourselves. We've just got to come back and get to work."