Enemy Confidential: Cowboys Mirror Seahawks in Myriad of Ways

As the two teams gear up to face one another for the first time since 2018, the Seahawks and Cowboys have far more in common than just being led by top-tier quarterbacks and experienced, familiar head coaches.
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Snagging their first win of the Mike McCarthy era in improbable fashion, the Cowboys will look to keep momentum going when they square off with the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.

Coming out the gates flat in Atlanta, Dallas quickly found itself in a three-score hole by allowing 20 unanswered first quarter points. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes in the first half, torching a young, unproven secondary to help the visitors build a comfortable 29-10 halftime lead.

However, the Cowboys found a way to pick up the first win despite the dreadful start. Paced by a brilliant performance by quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw for 450 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns, they trimmed the deficit to five points heading into the final quarter.

The Falcons quickly extended the lead back to 15 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys weren't finished. With five minutes to play, Prescott found tight end Dalton Schultz for a 10-yard touchdown and after getting a stop, the talented quarterback found the end zone from a yard out to make it a 39-37 game with 1:52 left to play.

On the ensuing onside kick, Atlanta inexplicably didn't attempt to recover the football, allowing Dallas to recover. A 24-yard pass to rookie CeeDee Lamb from Prescott put them into scoring position and after a quick spike, Greg Zuerlein sent the home team packing with a game-winning 46-yard field goal as time expired.

While Seattle's 35-30 win over New England unfolded quite differently, both teams overcame suspect pass rushes and struggling secondaries giving up yardage in bulk to pick up signature wins thanks in large part to sensational quarterback play.

Following a historic comeback win, here's a closer look at the Seahawks upcoming Week 3 opponent, including series history, additions/departures, key numbers, and coach Pete Carroll’s evaluation of the Cowboys.

SERIES HISTORY

--19th regular season meeting. Along with holding a 10-8 edge in regular season games, the Cowboys lead the all-time series 11-9, with both teams winning a prior wild card matchup.

This will be the first time the Seahawks have hosted the Cowboys since Week 3 of the 2018 season, as they dispatched the opponent 24-13 at CenturyLink Field. Dallas later got its revenge, however, holding on for a 24-22 win in the wild card round at AT&T Stadium in January and ending Seattle's season. Prior to that game, the Seahawks had won three straight in the series and four out of five overall.

WHAT’S NEW?

Departures: With Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper up for new deals, the cap-strapped Cowboys couldn't afford to re-sign standout cornerback Byron Jones, who signed a multi-year deal with the Dolphins. One of the team's top pass rushers, Robert Quinn, departed in free agency and struck a three-year deal with the Bears. After spending nearly two decades in Fort Worth, tight end Jason Witten wasn't re-signed and took his talents to Las Vegas by signing a one-year deal with the Raiders.

The coaching staff also underwent a substantial change for the first time in a decade, with long-time head coach Jason Garrett fired and the vast majority of his staff let go following the hiring of McCarthy.

Additions: While the Cowboys couldn't afford to retain Jones as hoped, owner Jerry Jones still made several bold moves to improve the roster with mixed results thus far. Though the decision to sign veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy unfortunately didn't work out due to injury and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was released prior to the regular season, the organization signed Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith - who hadn't played since 2015 - to upgrade their defensive end depth. They also signed former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe to a one-year deal.

Dallas made one of the biggest coups in the 2020 NFL Draft, as Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb fell all the way to No. 17 overall and Jones couldn't resist teaming him up with Cooper and Michael Gallup. Then on day two, the Cowboys landed two other potential cornerstones, using a second-round selection on cornerback Trevon Diggs and a third-round selection on defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.

BY THE NUMBERS

154: Yards produced on Run-Pass Option plays, second-best in the NFL.

3.7: Completion percentage above expectation for Prescott, tied for 12th best among NFL quarterbacks.

139: Rushing yards after contact, the ninth-highest mark among 32 teams.

319: Yards produced after the catch by Cowboys receivers, fourth-best in the NFL.

2: Receiving touchdowns by the Cowboys through two games, ranking second-to-last.

7.7: Net yards surrendered per pass attempt, tied for fifth-worst in the NFL.

3.6: Yards per carry allowed by Cowboys defense, ranking fourth-best among NFL teams.

4.3: Percentage of opposing possessions ending in a turnover, second-worst rate in the NFL.

14: Quarterback pressures generated, ranking 23rd among 32 NFL teams.

29.5: Points per game given up by Cowboys, ranking 25th among 32 NFL teams.

CARROLL’S THOUGHTS

--With the Seahawks and Packers enjoying one of the fiercest out-of-division rivalries in the NFL over the past decade, Carroll and McCarthy have pitted their wits against one another seven times, with Carroll holding a 4-3 advantage. The two coaches know each other quite well, which adds intrigue to this latest matchup.

But despite knowing McCarthy's tendencies quite well, with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore being retained from Garrett's coaching staff and calling the plays once again, Carroll sees a Cowboys offense operating very similar to the one deployed last year rather than what McCarthy has traditionally ran.

"I'm sure Mike saw that they had a really good thing going, wanted to build on that," Carroll said. "I'm sure we'll see more stuff as we go. It looks like they've brought a lot of carryover from last year, which makes sense for the quarterback, receivers, running backs, guys up front. They took advantage of rehiring him [Moore]. But Mike is a great football coach, a tactician, all that kind of stuff. We'll figure it out here as we just got to get more games. We just got to get ready this week."

--Having faced Prescott during the preseason of his rookie year, Carroll got an early glimpse at the potential of the former Mississippi State standout, who was thrust into the starting lineup in part due to Tony Romo suffering a broken collarbone against the Seahawks in August 2016.

Since then, Prescott has evolved from a game manager into one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, setting career-highs with 30 touchdown passes and 4,902 passing yards in 2019. While he's only thrown two touchdowns in the first two weeks, he's completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, hasn't been intercepted, and has shown his dual-threat capabilities with three rushing touchdowns thus far.

"He's really good," Carroll assessed. "He's really a good football player. He's playing with great confidence, great stature in the pocket, handling the rush around him, able to escape it when he needs to. Really solid. His accuracy is really there. He can throw the ball all over the field. There's nothing that he doesn't do well. Can throw moving both directions. They include him in the running game some, enough to be a problem. He can scramble and make plays happen."

--With Prescott at the controls, the Cowboys have done an excellent job building around him with talented skill players, including extending Cooper and drafting Lamb back in April to give him one of the most formidable receiving trios in the game.

As a defensive coach, Carroll isn't too thrilled about the prospects of dealing with all of the dynamic weapons Dallas has, including All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has been a thorn in Seattle's side over the years and always seems to bust a big run or two against them. He knows the defense as a whole will have to play much better than they did last week for the Seahawks to beat a dangerous opponent and move to 3-0.

"They're really talented. The receivers are all special. CeeDee [Lamb] has jumped right in, taken over the slot. They love having him on the field. They are playing a lot of three receivers. Amari [Cooper] is ridiculous. This is a really good, talented group. That's what you see. When you have Zeke [Elliott] carrying the football, who is a fantastic runner and ball catcher, they're loaded. These guys are really good."