This is some old-school, beat ’em up and wear ’em down type of stuff the Dallas Cowboys are doing — and every bit of it is working.
The Cowboys, with a 30-23 win against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, suddenly look like a legitimate contender in the NFC, with a five-game winning streak, the NFL’s best running game and a defense that, while devoid of stars, proved its might Sunday in shutting down one the NFL’s most dynamic offenses.
The Cowboys arrived here as one of the early surprises of the NFL season after so many questions entering the season, especially on defense after losing players like DeMarcus Ware in free agency and linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Morris Claiborne to injuries. They leave not necessarily as a Super Bowl contender, but certainly having answered the question if these Cowboys are for real.
“What do you think?” defensive lineman Henry Melton said with a smirk.
Indeed, these Cowboys are not a fluke.
This is Dallas sticking to a formula — draft an offensive line full of maulers, build a stable of running backs and run the heck out of the star and trust your quarterback to shine — and it has never worked better for Dallas than it did Sunday in Seattle.
Despite quickly falling behind 10-0 thanks to a Seattle field goal and a blocked-punt touchdown for the Seahawks after the Cowboys first possession, the game plan did not change: Give the ball to DeMarco Murray, take some shots to Dez Bryant — even when he was guarded by Richard Sherman — and let the defense focus on containing Seattle’s triple-threat offense of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin.
Murray had his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game (becoming only the second player in NFL history, along with Jim Brown, to do so to start a year), this time against a Seattle run defense that had been ranked as the NFL’s best. Quarterback Tony Romo threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, while a maligned defense made the Seahawks offense look silly.
Wilson threw for just 126 yards, completed only 50% of his passes and threw an interception while trying to lead a game-tying drive in the final minute. Lynch had just 10 carries (for 61 yards) and Harvin — the X-factor in the Seahawks offense — had zero receiving yards on three catches as the Cowboys shut down Seattle’s screen game.
“When I see us play like that, we’ve got a chance to line up against anybody and win the game,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
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.
SOURCE: Lindsay H. Jones
USA TODAY Sports