The Seahawks edged out an ugly win over the depleted Dallas Cowboys and now sit at .500 heading into their bye week.
In Week 6 of the 2014 season, the Cowboys came to CenturyLink Field in Seattle and put on a show where they won most of the physical battles in a 30-23 win. The defending Super Bowl champs took a loss to the Rams the week after, and then lost just one game until that ill-fated Russell Wilson pass to Ricardo Lockette decided Super Bowl XLIX in the Patriots' favor. Many in the Seahawks' organization will look back to that Dallas loss as a turning point in the season. The question is whether Sunday's 13-12 Week 8 win over a Cowboys team without Tony Romo at quarterback can be seen as any sort of landmark in their follow-up campaign. This Seahawks team went to 4-4 on the season with a bye coming up and the memories of several blown fourth-quarter leads ringing in their heads. It's a team with a somewhat consistent defense, an offense with the potential for big plays, and the worst offensive line in professional football. They don't look at all like a team headed back to the Super Bowl, but there they are at .500 with a bye week to figure it all out.
Figuring it out is something the Cowboys don't really need to do—they know exactly why they stand at 2-5, with their season circling the drain. They've lost all five games without Tony Romo this season, and Romo isn't able to return until Week 11 with a broken collarbone. The quarterback round-robin between Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel has been mediocre at best, and disastrous at worst, and it was a bit of both against Seattle's defense. Cassel completed just 13 of 25 passes for 97 yards on the day, and not even the return of Dez Bryant was a major help. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman shadowed Bryant throughout the day, and Bryant came up with just two catches on six targets for 12 yards.
“It was a complete team effort,” Sherman said after the game. “Both sides of the ball—our offense ran the ball well, and we just tried to get stops when we could and get back the ball. There are going to be times in a game when they make big plays—they're one heck of a team—but we just wanted to minimize them and keep them out of the end zone.”
That much they did. The Cowboys have been held without a touchdown in two of their last three games, and without Romo, there's little to suggest any sort of season comeback.
If the Seahawks are to come back from a rough start to the season, and push past their own limitations, it will be on quarterback Russell Wilson to take them wherever they can go. Wilson wasn't sacked at all in this game—not bad for a guy who came into Sunday having been sacked a league-leading 31 times. With backup left tackle Alvin Bailey charged with protecting Wilson against Greg Hardy, the plan was for quick passes, pocket movement, and plays outside of structure—pretty much the same game plan every time Seattle takes the field. Wilson did it well enough to complete 19 of 30 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He threw a tip-drill interception to Hardy that was a combination of Wilson's own mistake on the throw and Bailey inexplicably cut-blocking Hardy and allowing the pass-rusher to get right in Wilson's face. But Wilson also kept things going late in the game with several key scrambles.
“He sacrifices for his team,” Sherman said of Wilson. “He's showing us that he's willing to put his body on the line for his team, and we respect the heck out that. That's what you've got to do when you're a leader of a football team. When you're depended on. Everybody's got to sacrifice, and he did that for us tonight.”
It wasn't a key game in the sense that you saw two playoff contenders going at it—the Seahawks are a team on the brink, and the Cowboys are just about done. But now, after a week to re-assess, we'll see if Seattle has enough left in the tank for another late-season run.