Spagnola: Coming Home From Seattle With A Whole Lot To Talk About

FRISCO, Texas – OK, here we go, a kaleidoscope of thoughts bubbling over from a Thursday night in Seattle that turned into a sleepless Friday morning here in our new digs at The Star.

So bear with me. Hoping a case of delirium doesn't set in, causing me to suffer a case of writer's regret upon further review.

Yeah, the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-17 in preseason Game 3. Big deal. All I know is the Cowboys went on the road, missing 19 players from their 90-man roster, no Dez Bryant, no Tyrone Crawford, no Orlando Scandrick, no Lance Dunbar. They played in the noise tunnel known as CenturyLink Field, where some 68,000 over-caffeinated fans acted as if this third exhibition exercise was the third game of the regular season.

The Cowboys took on a Seattle team finishing the 2015 season with the fourth-ranked offense and second-ranked defense, a 10-6 record and still being considered one of the best teams in the NFC again this year.
Yet at halftime, the score was 10-10, the Cowboys' first-teamers playing the Seahawks' first-teamers at their place to a standstill. A draw. And what's not to like about that?

Oh, and did I mention the Cowboys played all but three snaps of that first half without their starting quarterback, Tony Romo badly "crunched" – his word, not mine – by Cliff Avril, causing me to go in my head, "Seriously … seriously … not another long season."

That wasn't quite as reactionary as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claimed he was upon peering down on that turf where his franchise quarterback seemed mangled from a horrible slide and a tomahawk chop sack from behind.
"I'm not going back to Dallas," Jones said were his thoughts when asked if he had swallowed his heart at that moment. "I'm checking into the hospital – heart issues."

It's no wonder he didn't have a nervous breakdown before finding out Romo appears to have suffered no more than a scare from the jolt his body absorbed hitting the ground. Whew.

But from that point on, and look I know this was only a preseason game, but weren't you impressed with the first-teamers fight? I mean, the Cowboys countered Seattle's trademark physicality with their own brand of roughneck football. They were bullying with the bullies.

Some of that had to do with the rookie debut of Ezekiel Elliott. Maybe he didn't know any better, but he delivered some of his own boom to that noted Legion of Boom. Took exception to the Seahawks trying to treat him as a rookie. Steamrolled Kam Chancellor twice. Seemed to fire up the vets on that offensive line, which in turn rubbed off on the defense.

Good stuff.

Then there was his productivity, seven carries for 48 yards, parts lightning and parts thunder, that rare combination demonstrating his speed to the outside but bullish running inside. And to think that was just the opening glimpse into what the Cowboys saw in Elliott to make him the fourth overall pick in the draft.
This kid is no ordinary running back, gaining those 48 yards on just seven carries. You saw it, didn't you? Might have gotten you off your couch a time or two, too. He will bring some juice to this offensive attack.

"That's how he's always run," Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He ran that way when he was a little kid."

There was Dak Prescott, too, possibly making his final and most convincing pitch to become the Cowboys long-sought-after backup quarterback. Romo exits with 13:23 left in the first quarter, having taken just three snaps. Prescott enters, unexpected relief.

It was as if he said, "No worries boys, got this."

Did he ever, demonstrating the traits a backup quarterback must have, completing 15-of-19 passes that first half while playing with the Cowboys first-teamers and against Seattle's first-teamers, totaling 106 yards, one touchdown and a QB rating of 107.5. That meant at the time his preseason NFL QB rating went from a perfect 158.3 to an absurd 143.1.

Unless some moonbeam falls from the sky, this backup quarterback thing is his. Look, he led the Cowboys to two scoring drives in five first-half possessions, and two others ended in what could have been a touchdown had Terrance Williams not dropped the deep ball and had Dan Bailey not missed that 54-yard field goal.

"He's a rookie but doesn't act like one," says Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

After what the Cowboys went through last year at backup quarterback, makes you want to smile, at least for now.
Then there was the presumptive suspect defense. There was no Tyrone Crawford. No Orlando Scandrick. Guys such as Justin Durant, Benson Mayowa, Maliek Collins were playing for their first times this preseason – and starting.

Still, the Cowboys held the Seahawks to just 10 first-half points, a team that averaged right at 26 points a game last year. Held the brutish Seahawks to 21 yards rushing. Getting pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson while also containing him became their downfall. But again, it's Wilson, last year's top-rated NFL quarterback (110.1)

The Cowboys could live with that.

The second half, littered with second- and third-teamers, not so much, especially since 14 of those Seattle second half points came with its first-team offense matched up against the Cowboys' backups. Big deal.

So you see, this game indeed was a kaleidoscope of emotions. A sigh of relief, coupled with eye-opening hope and then the excitement created by the new kid on the block.
Not bad, not bad.

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