Commentary

Cowboys' momentum fades in Seattle

Opening kickoff sets tone for dud, one of worst showings of Jason Garrett era

Updated: September 17, 2012, 9:16 AM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

SEATTLE -- If you want to say it's the same old, same old for the Dallas Cowboys, go ahead.

In no way can the Cowboys refute what will be said about them for the next week after what they put on display Sunday at CenturyLink Field in a 27-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Kevin P. CaseyTony Romo and the Cowboys worked all week on taking the Seattle crowd out of the game, but early miscues made that impossible.

Just when you think it's safe to believe this team has turned a corner after an emotional season-opening victory against the New York Giants on Sept. 5, nine months after their 2011 season ended in the same stadium, they delivered one of the worst showings of the Jason Garrett era.

The only loss that can be deemed close was the 34-7 whipping at Philadelphia last October.

The Cowboys were not in that game from the start. They were at least able to temporarily overcome Sunday's opening kickoff, which was fumbled by Felix Jones and turned into a Seattle field goal.

Before the game was nine minutes old, Jones fumbled a kickoff, a punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown and Tony Romo was intercepted.

Other than that, everything was swell.

And yet at halftime the Cowboys trailed by only six points, 13-7.

"But the second half was a different story," Garrett said. "They moved the ball well offensively against our defense and we did not move the ball well offensively against their defense. They made the critical plays both in the run game and the pass game on both sides of the ball to win the game."

Garrett's right about Seattle's second-half dominance, but you can't excuse the start as something other than a lack of execution. The Cowboys' coach insisted the players were mentally and emotionally prepared to play in one of the loudest, most difficult venues in the league.

If true, then the Cowboys just haven't learned.

Last January, the Cowboys found themselves down 21-0 to the Giants in the de facto NFC East title game. They got the score within 21-14 in the fourth quarter but could not overcome a three-touchdown deficit.

They couldn't play perfectly then to pull out a win against the Giants. And they couldn't play perfectly Sunday against the Seahawks.

By putting themselves in such an early hole, the Cowboys had to play perfectly in the final 51 minutes just to have a chance.

They didn't.

"Coming into maybe the toughest place to play in the league or at least one of the tough ones, we knew the crowd would kind of feed off negative plays and obviously we had turnovers, so we did not get off to the start that we needed to," Romo said. "And we stressed that this week, so that was disappointing. We just did not play well in all three phases. We made far too many mistakes to have a chance to win a football game in the National Football League."

In the second half, the Seahawks simply wore out the Cowboys.

Marshawn Lynch ran for 100 yards in the third and fourth quarters. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had to throw just eight passes in the final 30 minutes of the game. The Seahawks had the ball for nearly 21 minutes in the second half.

The only special-teams gaffe of the second half was a 12-men penalty that allowed Seattle to convert a fourth-and-1 rushing play instead of punting. It allowed Seattle to run five more plays.

The Cowboys' offense wasn't without fault, either. They ran just 19 plays in the second half. After converting six of nine third-down opportunities in the first half, the Cowboys converted just one of four in the second.

Dez Bryant averaged 5.7 yards per catch. He was nowhere to be found. Jason Witten had his third and final drop in the half. Eight of DeMarco Murray's 44 yards came in the third quarter. The line could not hold up against Seattle's active line.

The game ended on a 23-yard catch by Jones. It was not a Seattle defender who brought Jones down. It was the turf. He simply tripped at the Seattle 19 and was touched down to end the game.

Fitting.

"We didn't expect to come in here and lose the game the way we did," Romo said. "It's disappointing and we need to get better as a football team. We need to do those little things that move the chains, stop them, punt and kickoff return, there's a million things. You look out there today and I can literally think of 10 things that are like, 'Well, you can't do that and win football games,' and we had them all in one game. That's tough to overcome."

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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