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The latest news and analysis from all angles on the Seahawks.

October 8, 2014 at 9:28 AM

First Look: Dallas Cowboys

Here’s our weekly First Look  at Seattle’s upcoming opponent:

Seahawks opponent: Dallas

Game time: 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field.

TV: FOX

Coach: Jason Garrett (33-28, fifth year with Cowboys).

2014 record: 4-1.

Last game: Beat Houston 20-17 in overtime.

The series: Dallas leads it 9-5 but Seattle won the most recent meeting, 27-7, at CenturyLink Field in 2012 in what was Russell Wilson’s first win as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

The early line: Seahawks by 8.

Key players: QB Tony Romo: One of the most well-scrutinized quarterbacks in the NFL is off to one of the best starts of his career at age 34. Romo continues to manage a troublesome back that forces him to take every Wednesday off from practice. He’s still prone to the inopportune interception — he’s thrown five this year in 110 passes. But he’s completing 69.2 percent of his passes so far this season, above his career rate of 64.8.

RB DeMarco Murray: Simply put, Murray is off to one of the best starts for a running back in NFL history with 670 yards through five games. Murray is on pace for 2,144 yards, which would break the NFL record of 2,104 set by Eric Dickerson in 1984. And he has five straight 100-yard games to begin the season, something done previously only by Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson. Murray will go for a sixth straight against Seattle which would tie Brown for the NFL record — Brown did it in 1958.

LB Rolando McClain: McClain, who was picked No. 8 overall pick in 2010 by the Raiders, is finally living up to the hype after a strange start to his career. He technically retired last year after being cut by Oakland and signing with the Ravens, for whom he never played. Dallas acquired him for a sixth-round pick this summer after Sean Lee tore his ACL and McClain has been a revelation with 19 tackles, a sack and an interception and becoming something of a leader for a Dallas defense that has been a surprise so far.

Dallas’ keys to success: The winning formula for Dallas has been an offense based around the running of Murray to then give Romo favorable down-and-distance situations to throw, and a bend-but-don’t-break defense. Dallas looked hideous in an opening home loss to the 49ers, but have since won four in a row to move to 4-1 for the first time since 2008. The combined record of the teams Dallas has beaten, though, is 7-12, and winning at Seattle will be a much different challenge. Still, this appears a better Dallas team than advertised even if some of the numbers suggest that the Cowboys have also been a little fortunate. Dallas is allowing 6.49 yards per play, most in the NFL. But the Cowboys are also allowing just 20.6 points per game, eighth in the NFL. One key to that is allowing opponents to convert 43.1 percent of third downs, better than Seattle’s 43.86. And after losing four turnovers in the loss to the 49ers, Dallas has had just five in the last four games.

BY THE NUMBERS

416 — The number of carries DeMarco Murray would finish the season with at his current pace, which would tie the NFL record set by Kansas City’s Larry Johnson in 2006.

22 — The number of times Dallas ran the ball on first down in the win over Houston out of 32 first-down plays. Murray got 21 of those carries.

32.6 — Dallas’ average rushing attempts per game, tied with the Giants for the most in the NFL.Seattle is sixth at 30.8.

 

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