If you’re a Seahawks fan, the Dallas Cowboys’ 30-23 victory at CenturyLink Field on Sunday was painful to watch. But you probably want to know why it happened and what it means. And the national media that descended on Seattle over the weekend spent Sunday night trying to put it all into perspective.
Was it a statement game announcing Dallas as a new NFC contender? Or a loss that shows the Seahawks’ vulnerability? Or both?
Here’s a roundup of media reaction after Seattle’s loss from the national media and major newspapers.
It’s taken a very long time and a lot of false starts (literally and figuratively), but it can now be said that this version of the Dallas Cowboys does not at all resemble the teams of past years. Those tissue-thin squads with far too much star power up top and far too little strength where it mattered? A thing of the past. When (Jerry) Jones’ team (yes, we must call it so) waltzed onto Seattle’s gladiator turf on Sunday and came out with a 30-23 victory, raising its record to 5-1 on the season, the era of the franchise that posted a perfect .500 record from 1997 through 2013, and three straight .500 seasons in the last three years was officially put to rest.
This Cowboys team is not a one-hit wonder — they can hit all day, on both sides of the ball. They did just that against a Seattle team that’s generally regarded as the NFL’s most physical franchise, and they did it in a stadium where most teams go to die.
It was that kind of afternoon at CenturyLink Field, as the Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champions and solidified their status as an NFC contender, perhaps even the early favorite. They beat the Seahawks in all the ways that teams aren’t supposed to beat the Seahawks. They ran the ball. They stopped the run. They contained quarterback Russell Wilson. They beat the Seahawks the way the Seahawks beat other teams.
It was impressive, but even if (Tony) Romo felt that way, he refused to acknowledge much significance. He answered questions without emotion, his voice monotone, his face blank. Someone mentioned the Cowboys’ massive advantage in time of possession (37:39-22:21), their third-down conversion rate (10-of-17), Romo’s two touchdowns and 250 passing yards. He shrugged again.
“We’ve been doing that every game,” he said. “That’s not anything new.”
So much for the Seahawks having a deep pass rush and nasty run defense against everyone at home.
They couldn’t slow down Murray (29 carries, 115 yards) all the way through his game-winning, 15-yard TD with 3:16 left. The Cowboys have not wavered in their steadfast commitment to running Murray. The result is a Jim Brown-like 6-for-6 100-yard efforts and an Eric Dickerson-like 2,000-yard pace.
It’s set up Romo, one of the best play-action quarterbacks in the NFL, to work to the most versatile receiving corps he’s ever had with teams needing to commit that swing secondary defender to stopping Murray. Whether it’s the Seahawks’ secondary or anyone else, they can’t cover everything the Cowboys can do. The burden is off Romo to force the issue, because of the running game and defense.
Russell Wilson lost for just the second time in Seattle, playing one of the worst games of his three-year career. Overly conservative from the pocket, his 47.8 passer rating was his third lowest in 42 games. He didn’t get much help from an offensive line with a penchant for imploding drives via third-down penalties and a wide receiving corps that couldn’t make plays at the point of the catch. The Cowboys nearly doubled the Seahawks in time of possession and total yards.
The site of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo’s career low point — a botched hold on a 19-yard field-goal attempt at the end of a January 2007 playoff game at Seattle — looked closer to a turning point for the suddenly scorching Cowboys.
In a Sunday stunner, the Cowboys posted a 30-23 victory at Seattle, handing the Seahawks just their second home defeat of the Russell Wilson era.
It was one thing for the Cowboys to have beaten the likes of the Rams — needing a rally to beat backup quarterback Austin Davis — or even to survive in overtime to beat the Houston Texans at home. It was something different to win here in Seattle, where the Seahawks had previously only lost one time since Wilson took over as quarterback in 2012.
To do it, Dallas had to beat up the NFL’s reigning bullies. The result was what Jones called “Jason Garrett’s finest day as a Cowboy” — high praise for a head coach who will soon need a new contract.
Love them or hate them, it’s a great thing for the NFL when the Cowboys are playing like this. And Sunday’s 30-23 stunner over the defending champs in Seattle erased any doubt about whether they can compete with the best. The Cowboys just keep riding RB DeMarco Murray — the second player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in each of his team’s first six games — behind their solid young offensive line. They have an elite matchup threat in WR Dez Bryant when QB Tony Romo needs to throw. (Bryant even lured Seahawks CB Richard Sherman away from his usual left side in the second half.) And week after week, a defense sparked by MLB Rolando McClain’s stunning comeback makes enough plays to get by. The schedule provides an apparent break now, too, with home games against the Giants and Redskins the next two weeks. Is this the year America’s Team returns to glory? Or will it collapse in another inglorious heap? Either way, it’ll be worth watching.
At full speed, there was no way Terrance Williams got his feet in bounds. The Seattle Seahawks were so unconvinced that they called for a replay challenge. The CenturyLink Field crowd didn’t think it was a catch, either.
The reaction on the Dallas Cowboys’ sideline was a little different. Sterling Moore had an incredulous look on his face. Staff members pointed to the spot. And the official emphatically signaled a catch, reaching his hands up toward the sky and down to his waist.
This was a great win for the Cowboys. It legitimized their fast start and makes them a major player this season. At some point, coach Jason Garrett will have to cut down the carries for Murray, who is on a record-setting pace, but that’s an issue for another day.
Well, there you have it: your proof that the Dallas Cowboys are for real.
This was not the measuring stick coming into Sunday. It was supposed to be the game that the Cowboys’ thin veneer wore off, that the champion Seattle Seahawks would out-class what appeared to be fool’s gold, with an overworked star running back and a defense relying on smoke and mirrors.
There’s not a more difficult test than going into Seattle, squaring off against the Seahawks and facing their tenacious, championship defense. The Cowboys passed with flying colors and served notice to the NFL they are for real.
Can you imagine telling someone in April Rolando McClain would help seal a defense-fueled victory for Dallas over the Seahawks at CenturyLink and record a game-sealing interception off Russell Wilson? Of course not: McClain wasn’t in the NFL, the Dallas defense was prepared to be the NFL’s worst and Wilson had one loss at home.
Make it two, courtesy of the best win we’ve seen from Jerry Jones team in maybe five years. Tony Romo shook off a massive first-half shot from Bobby Wagner; he’s not just better than people think, he’s also tougher than people believe.
A win over the defending Super Bowl champions alters how seriously these Cowboys must be taken. Jason Garrett is sincere when he preaches the only expectations that matter are those that are held within this organization.
But even Garrett concedes the physical way his team beat the Seahawks, the way it overcame adversity and didn’t back down at CenturyLink Field, is a strong indication this group is evolving into the team everyone wants it to become.
“No question,’’ the head coach said. “This is kind of team we want to be.
But (Troy) Aikman sucked it up and forged on. That, after all, is why Fox pays him the big bucks as its lead analyst.
He delivered with words only the most optimistic Cowboys fans could have imagined three hours earlier.
“I think they came into this game with house money,” he said. “No one expected them to come in and be able to win. It think it was a game (that was supposed to be) more of an evaluation of where exactly they stacked up against the defending world champs and one of the game’s best.
“Instead they come in here and they dominated this game. If you take the special teams play out of this, this game was not even close…It was a domination on both sides of the ball on the line of scrimmage. It is a great win for Jason Garrett and this Dallas Cowboys team.”
On his sixth snap of the game, Tony Romo took a direct blow to his ribs and spent nearly a minute trying to get back to his feet.
Seconds later, when Chris Jones’ punt was smothered by Seattle and returned for a touchdown, Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were facing a 10-0 deficit on the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks’ home field.
Romo and his teammates rebounded from the terrible start, validating the strong start to the season with a resounding answer.
The Dallas Cowboys lowered the boom in a shocking 30-23 win over Seattle and in the process sent a message to the NFL that they are legitimate playoff contenders.
These may be the two best teams in the NFC right now.
“Right now” being an important caveat, because this is still Week 6, and early-season momentum doesn’t always translate to the playoffs. Still, these teams have dominant units that should win every matchup they face the rest of the way. There may not be a defensive front that can fully neutralize DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys’ offensive line. The Seahawks are so complete that even their off games don’t seem so bad.
And who else is there? The San Francisco 49ers‘ two early losses are still worrisome, the NFC South is down, the NFC North is muddy, and the Cowboys’ division pals the Philadelphia Eagles haven’t looked as good against weaker competition.
A rematch between the Seahawks and Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game wouldn’t be that surprising, at this point.
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