Cowboys Vs. Seahawks: Questions Linger After Loss

Sept 16, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) sit on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

After opening the season with an impressive win, Dallas suffered the mother of all let-downs in their game against Seattle on Sunday.

The Cowboys were snakebit from the opening kickoff on Sunday.

After Felix Jones fumbled the ball on the game's first play, the defense had a good stand and limited them to a field goal.

However, that effort was wasted when Dallas went three-and-out, and Dan Connor failed to keep Malcolm Smith from coming in to block the punt. The Seahawks were up 10-0, and it would prove to be all the points they needed as Dallas was only able to score once on a Tony Romo to Miles Austin pass in the second quarter.

Futility by the Cowboys was displayed throughout the roster. Romo threw one bad interception to Brandon Browner, but could easily have had three other errant passes picked. He seemed out of synch with his receivers during most of the game, and Jason Witten and Dez Bryant were uncharacteristically butter-fingered, dropping balls they normally catch.

The defense was unable to stop Marshawn Lynch at crucial times, and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson let his team on consecutive 88 yard touchdown drives in the second half that put the game out of reach for the struggling Dallas offense. Special teams of course had the two disastrous turnovers that gave Seattle the early lead and let them play their game throughout.

Dallas was actually in fairly good shape at halftime, dominating statistically and pulling to within three points despite the two scores they handed to the Seahawks in the opening minutes. But Seattle adjusted well at halftime, while Dallas frequently seemed lost and confused during the second half.

There is not much that makes a great deal of sense in the game. Dallas generally got the penalties under control, only being flagged five times (with one offsides by DeMarcus Ware being negated by a personal foul for a chop block called against Seattle), and one of the penalties was a highly questionable call when Bruce Carter was charged with unnecessary roughness for a gentle tap on the back of Wilson as he went out of bounds. Meanwhile, on the same play, Sean Lee was subjected to a helmet-to-helmet blow missed by the referees that sent him to the sidelines for several plays to be evaluated for concussion.

But the penalties played little role as the Cowboys simply failed to be competitive. In addition, injuries accumulated throughout the game, including safeties Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh, leaving their duties to Barry McCray and Mana Silva. This may have played a role in the efficiency Wilson showed in the passing game after the half. Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears also went out on the defensive line, which may have contributed to the way that Seattle was able to grind out yardage and keep drives alive.

And offensively, the team was able to do nothing in the second half. After converting five of six third downs leading up to the lone Cowboys touchdown, they only converted two more for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Seattle mainly avoided third down situations, and the five conversions they did get came at the right time.

There were puzzling aspects to the game. Kevin Ogletree caught a pass for 26 yards in the second series for Dallas, looking like the standout player from the Giants game. Then he simply disappeared. Seattle had a patchwork line that looked very bad in their opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but Dallas could only get one Anthony Spencer sack of Wilson (a second Spencer sack was nullified by a facemask penalty). Meanwhile, that line was also opening up holes for Lynch to gash the Cowboys for 122 yards.

Jason Garrett now faces a rough task getting this team turned around for the next game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Cowboys' home opener. Instead of being tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East, they sit with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins at 1-1.Hopefully they can experience a turnaround similar to that the Giants had, where Eli Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns, plus three interceptions, in coming from behind to defeat the Buccaneers.

There certainly is a lot to work on, with all phases of the game experiencing multiple breakdowns in the loss. It may be a game that shows which of the first two contests was the anomaly, the exciting win against the Giants, or this putrid egg laid in the Pacific Northwest.

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