By Elwyn Henderson
The 8-3 Dallas Cowboys hosted the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Thursday night in the weekly Amazon Prime NFL game. A lot of Dallas detractors had harped all season that the Cowboys were blasting teams with a losing record but had not defeated a team with a winning record all season. Their 3 losses were to the San Francisco Forty-Niners, Philadelphia Eagles, and inexplicably, the 2-win Arizona Cardinals.
Dallas came in with a 13-0 record at home since the middle of the 2022 season and they had won every home game in 2023 by 20 or more points. They had not even trailed for a single second at home in 2023, so the game provided a great opportunity to shut their naysayers down.
They did just that and moved their consecutive home continuous winning streak to 14-0, clipping the wings of the Seahawks by the score of in front of 93,367 happy fans. It was Pete Carroll’s first loss against 36 wins when his teams scored 35 or more points in a game.
Seattle won the coin toss prior to kickoff and elected to defer to the second half to start the game. Jason Myers kicked off for the ‘Hawks. The ball went into the end zone for a touchback and Dak Prescott brought the Cowboys offense to the field at their 25 after the touchback for their first possession of the night.
The ‘Boys moved methodically down the field, but after advancing to the Seattle 2 with a first and goal Prescott was sacked on third down, forcing Brandon Aubrey to come in for a 30-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and Dallas took an early 3-0 lead with 9:10 left in the first quarter. The drive was 14 plays, 63 yards and took 5:50.
Aubrey’s ensuing kickoff went out of the end zone and Geno Smith brought the visitors on the field at his 25 for their first possession of the game.
It didn’t take long at all for Smith to get Seattle into the end zone and give the Cowboys their first deficit at home for 2023. The TD came on a 73-yard pass from Smith to DK Metcalf with 7:28 left in the quarter. Jason Myers PAT kick was good and the Seahawks led 7-3.
After a touchback Prescott and the offense began at their 25 again. Thanks to a major pass interference call against Riq Woolen against Jalen Tolbert, Dallas moved quickly down to the 17. It took just 5 plays and 2:40 to get into the end zone for the first TD for the Cowboys. The score came on a 15-yard TD pass from Prescott to CeeDee Lamb with 4:48 left in the quarter. Aubrey’s extra point try was good and Dallas reclaimed the lead, 10-7.
After another touchback Smith and company began at their 25 and quickly moved down the field deep into Dallas territory. The Cowboys defense stiffened at their 19, forcing a field goal try. Seattle was called for a false start, moving the ball back to the 24 and resulting in a 42-yard Myers field goal try. The kick sailed wide right and was no good and Dallas went back on offense at their 32 with 58 seconds left in the opening frame.
Prescott led the offense on an 11-play, 68-yard TD drive that took 4:21 off the clock. The drive culminated with a Prescott to Brandin Cooks 7-yard scoring strike with 11:37 left in the first half. Aubrey’s point after kick was good and Dallas went up by 10, 17-7.
Smith brought his unit out again at the 25 after Aubrey’s kickoff went out of the end zone once again for yet another touchback.
Smith led his charges down the field and 44-yard pass interference call on Dallas at their 9 set the Seahawks up with a first and goal at that spot. On a third and 14, Dallas was called for defensive pass interference again. The call came in the end zone on what looked to be a bad call on Stephon Gilmore, so Seattle had first and goal from the Dallas 1. On the next play Zack Charbonnet ran into the end zone with 8:54 left in the half. Myers nailed the extra point and the ‘Hawks were back to within 3 at 17-14. The drive was 7 plays, 75 yards and took 2:43.
The Cowboys began their next drive at their 25 after another touchback of a Myers kickoff. They drove 62 yards in 16 plays over 7:24, and on a 4th and goal Prescott went around right end into the end zone but Terence Steele was called for holding, forcing a 31-yard Aubrey field goal. The kick was good, increasing the Dallas lead to 20-14 with 1:30 left in the half.
Smith and the Seahawks offense began their final drive of the half at their 25 after a touchback of Aubrey’s kickoff. Seattle moved down the field again and DaRon Bland was called for pass interference in the end zone so the visitors had another 1st and goal at the Dallas 1 with 7 seconds left in the half. Seattle thought they had a TD on the next play but Dallas had called a time out prior to the snap. It didn’t matter as Smith hit Metcalf for the second time of the half with 4 seconds left. Myers was good on the extra point and the Seahawks regained the lead, 21-20.
The clock ran out as Dallas returned the kickoff just past the 30 and Seattle was set to receive the second half kickoff.
Smith brought his troops back out to their 25 after a touchback of Aubrey’s second half kickoff and he led his offense on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:59 off the clock. The drive ended when Smith ran into the end zone from 5 yards out for a TD with 10:01 left in the third quarter. Myers split the uprights on the extra point and Dallas was in an 8-point hole, trailing 28-20.
The Pokes went back on offense at their 25 after a touchback of the next Myers kick following the score. Dallas desperately needed to find the end zone on the possession and they did just that, moving the 75 yards in 12 plays and taking 6:20 off the third quarter clock.
The Seahawks began their next drive at their 25 and were moving up their field down the field until DaRon Bland intercepted a Smith pass on the Seahawk 38 and Dallas got the ball back with a chance to take the lead back.
It wasn’t to be though, as Lamb dropped a 4th and 2 pass that would have been good for a first down with 1:04 left in the quarter and Smith brought his offense back out at the Dallas 30 to begin their next drive.
Smith drove the offense down the field and into the end zone again, ending the drive with his third TD pass to Metcalf with 14:17 left in the game. Myers nailed the PAT and Seattle was back up by 8, leading 35-27. The drive was 5 plays 70 yards and took just 1:47 off the clock.
Thanks to a defensive pass interference of over 30 yards on the Seahawks the Cowboys made it deep into Seattle territory. They knew they urgently needed to get into the end zone on the drive, but it didn’t happen. They settled for a 38-yard field goal by Aubrey with 11:23 left in the game, closing the deficit to 35-30. The drive was 6 plays, 56 yards and took 2:54.
On their next possession the Seahawks moved down to the Dallas 46 and went for a 4th and 1. DeMarcus Lawrence dropped the running back for no gain and the Cowboys dodged a bullet and took over at that point with 7:04 left in the game knowing it was paramount that they mount a drive and take the lead.
The offense did just that, moving the 54 yards in 7 plays that took 2:27 off the fourth quarter clock. Mike McCarthy did the smart thing and went for 2, and Prescott hit Cooks on a pass in the end zone for the successful conversion, giving Dallas a 35-37 lead with 4:37 left in the game.
Aubrey kicked off and after another touchback Seattle came to the field on their 25 needing a field goal to potentially send the game into overtime and knowing a TD would most likely give them the victory.
The defense KNEW they had to get a stop to grab the win. The ‘Hawks picked up 18 yards on the first play of the drive and Smith had the visitors in full blast mode. The defense rose to the occasion and forced a 4th and 4 from the Seattle 49. A Smith desperation pass while he was under heavy pressure fell incomplete and Dallas took over on downs at the Seattle 49 with 3:11 left in the game.
Prescott brought the offense back out hoping for a successful possession that would run out the clock. The offense moved down the field with precision accuracy running the ball and at the 2-minute warning the Cowboys were down to the Seahawk 20. The moved the ball down to the 14 and faced a 4th and 4 from that point. Prescott tried to draw Seattle off sides and took a time out with the 25-second clock about to expire. Aubrey came in and hit a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the contest, pushing the Dallas lead to a precarious 41-35 lead. The drive was 6 plays, 35 yards and took 1:28.
Aubrey’s kickoff resulted in another touchback and Smith and his unit began at their 25 knowing they had to have a TD with no time outs left to win the game. Smith moved the team to midfield where they faced a 4th and 2 to keep the ball. Thanks to a great play by Micah Parsons a Smith pass fell incomplete and the ball turned over on downs to Dallas at midfield with 1:07 left in the game.
All the Cowboys had to do was run a couple of plays from the victory formation to seal the win and move to 9-3. They did just that and time expired after the second kneel down by Prescott, sending the Cowboys fans home happy!
When Coach Mike McCarthy held his presser after the big win the Mirror asked him if he agreed that he had expected the close game knowing how good Seattle’s defense has been for years.
“We expected a highly competitive game, yeah, no doubt. I think both teams have a very aggressive play style and I think that was part of the challenge with the officiating. We fully expected it to go down that way. They were coming off of a tough loss so we knew they were coming in here with a ton of urgency. At the end of the day this our home field, you know and we play extremely well here. I’m happy to get the win, but I can’t say enough; your team has to learn and be in tight games. How can you be good at playing close games if you’re not in them? We’ve had our share of big wins, so this will serve us well moving forward.”
When quarterback Dak Prescott appeared before the media after the game he was asked what it has been like this year to have silenced a lot of people who said he wasn’t good enough to be the Cowboys quarterback.
“There’s no difference from when they were hating me and calling for my position, honestly. I’m blessed; I’m super-blessed. I think about that each and every day that I wake up and I’m grateful for that opportunity to do that and I go and attack the day. I understand that nobody’s opinion defines me. That’s the great part about life and that’s the great opportunity that we all have. People can say whatever they want but I have the pen and I have the paper and I’m the one writing. Because I’m playing as well as I am now doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, doesn’t mean I’m going to listen to them now. I appreciate them but I don’t care about their opinions any more than I did when they were calling for my spot. As I said, I’m blessed. This last year has been a reflection of that. A lot of great things have happened in my life and they’re going to continue to happen because of where my mind’s at and where I put the value of life.”
The team has played 3 games in just 12 days and managed to win all of them. They now get 10 days off before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football on December 10th in a big NFC East Division rivalry game. HOPEFULLY, they can get the win and move their home game consecutive win streak to 15 games that night. It won’t be easy, but as every coach will tell you, nothing is easy in the NFL!