The Aftermath – Cowboys 7 vs. Seahawks 27

Each week I’ll take a second look at the game and let you know how I feel the Cowboys performed as it relates to the things I pointed out in my“Analyzing the Enemy” article from Friday.

How It Turned Out:

I think it’s safe to say that most of us didn’t expect the game on Sunday afternoon in Seattle to unfold the way that it did.

This Cowboys team is supposed to be different. The veterans are supposed to be leading the charge with a sense of urgency that this organization has lacked since the glory days of the 90’s. The coaching staff is supposed to have this team ready to play from the first kick each week, now that they’ve had a full offseason to implement their systems. Not to mention a full 10 days to plan for a tough matchup against a solid team in the most hostile of environments.

So much for supposed to be different.

It’s hard for me to convey my disgust for how this team played (or didn’t play) on Sunday other than to type in ALL BOLD CAPS, but I’d rather not take that route. Instead, let’s take a look at how my analysis from Friday stacks up against what took place on the field.

Strengths:

1) Aggressive Secondary – There was a definite breakdown in communication between Tony Romo and his pass catchers in the game. Maybe it was the crowd noise, but it likely had more to do with the aggressive style that the Seahawks secondary plays.

Dez Bryant looked like the unfocused player that makes you wonder if the Cowboys will be parting ways with him once his contract is up, or maybe even before. Witten inexplicably dropped multiple passes, even when he was open.

It would seem that the Cowboys were hearing the Seahawks’footsteps all day long.

Brandon Browner added another interception to his impressive career tally (7 in 18 games), and Romo was held to 6.2 yards/attempt (7.9 yards/attempt for his career).

2) Lynch is A BEAST – The Cowboys held Marshawn Lynch to 22 yards rushing in the 1st half, but the bruiser got rolling after halftime. His 122 yards on the ground was the most allowed by the Cowboys in the last 9 games (going back to the 2011 season). In those 9 games Dallas has allowed a 100+ yards rushing, the Cowboys are 2-7 in those games.

The Boys did allow 162 yards to the Seahawks last year in a win, but that game was at Cowboys Stadium and Tarvaris Jackson threw 3 interceptions.

3) The 12th Man @ Century Link – If you’re trying to take the loudest home crowd in the NFL out of the game, then it’s probably not the best idea to start the day off with a fumbled kickoff, blocked punt for a TD, and an interception thrown deep in Seattle territory.

The raucous Seattle crowd was electric from the opening kickoff Sunday, but oddly enough the Seahawks had 3 false start penalties to the Cowboys 1.

It’s worth debating if the missed call on Golden Tate’s hit on Sean Lee, and the very sketchy unnecessary roughness penalty called on the same play, wasn’t influenced by the environment in the stadium.

Weaknesses:

1) Offensive Line – I do not understand why the Cowboys didn’t attempt to bring more pressure on Russell Wilson as the game progressed. I noted the success the Cardinals had the week before in bringing loads of pressure on Russell Wilson, and conversely how Wilson made his most accurate passes when he had time to establish himself in the pocket.

Look no further than the three longest pass plays on Sunday for proof of how accurate Wilson can be from the pocket.

On 1st and 10 from the Dallas 46, Wilson dropped back from center as Dallas brought next to no pressure. Even though three LB’s and everyone else in the secondary dropped into coverage, Wilson had plenty of time to find Golden Tate for a 20 yard gain.

Later in the same drive, the Cowboys got the benefit of a 15 yard chop block penalty to put Seattle at the Dallas 37. On the following play, the Cowboys brought just DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, and Jason Hatcher to pressure Wilson. Despite having max coverage downfield, the Cowboys failed to prevent Wilson from completing an 18 yard strike to Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice. 2nd and 21 was now 3rd and 3. Wilson found Zach Miller on the following play for a first down, and Steven Hauschka was able to make a relatively easy 25 yard FG, instead of attempting a more difficult kick from around 40 yards.

And of course, on 2nd and 8 with 5:05 left in the 3rd quarter from the Dallas 23, Wilson drops back to pass from under the center again. Dallas brings 4 men to pressure Wilson. Now, it does look as if Anthony Spencer may have been planning to blitz,
but he peels back to cover the eventual TD recipient, Anthony McCoy. With limited pressure coming towards him, Wilson is able to calmly hit McCoy in stride for a 23 yard strike into the end zone.

To make matters even more maddening, it was apparently the plan all along to make Wilson complete passes from the pocket. Jason Garrett said on Monday, “What he does best is move around and create plays with his feet. He did that in the game. We didn’t want to give him too many opportunities to do that, so you want to hem him in. We did pressure him some times. We did play coverage other times.”

Coach, the “other times” were the times you got burnt. You could have known to expect as much by taking a closer look at the game tape.

2) An Anemic Pass Rush– As expected, the Seahawks failed to get a great deal of pressure on Tony Romo. There was one sack late in the game, but the Cowboys were flinging the ball all over the field. Getting to Romo at that point of the game wasn’t going to be very hard.

Any issues Romo had on the day wasn’t due to feeling pressure from the Seattle pass rush.

3) Aggressive Secondary – The Seahawks secondary didn’t commit any penalties on the day, although you can argue that the Golden Tate hit was an egregious non-call that could have shifted the momentum back towards Dallas during Seattle’s final scoring drive.

Simply put, the Seahawks secondary played outstanding.

There are cries around the league that the replacement officials are allowing cornerbacks and safeties too much leeway on contact downfield, but I didn’t see anything that warrants those concerns from this game.

Key Injuries:

Sidney Rice and Zach Miller both played, and the Cowboys would have had to have attempted to bring pressure to test the iffy Seattle OL.

Game Changer To Watch:

Leon Washington– Good news. Leon Washington only had 20 kickoff return yards on the day. Bad news. He only had two chances to return kickoffs.

Summary:

I still need more time to let this game pass through my system. I’m not over that indignant feeling that @JohnShango so eloquently displayed in this video.

I’ve been watching the Tampa Bay games from Week 1 and 2. Everything I thought I knew about the Cowboys before Sunday is telling me that they should easily dispose of Tampa at home.

Then my mind flashes back to Felix Jones lumbering into a mass of tacklers only to have the ball fly out shortly after Dan Connor whiffed on Malcolm Smith during that fateful blocked punt, and the defense melting against an average offensive attack. And, oh yeah, one of those Romo mental lapses that have thankfully been increasingly rare the last few years.

I’ll have a few more days to mull it over before I submit my next Analyzing The Enemy article.

I certainly need them.

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