Key Decision #1:
- The most important decision in the game was that the Cowboys didn’t get the ball to their best offensive player, RB Ezekiel Eliott when they needed him the most. Elliott who had been running hard and getting key yards behind a good Cowboys run blocking team didn’t get the ball late in the game.
- With 7:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, Dallas faced a two score deficit and with the ball at the Seattle 3 and a fresh set of downs.
- On first down, Dak Prescott attempted to pass the ball on a run-pass-option, however, Prescott quickly abandoned the idea and scrambled for a one yard gain. On second down, the Cowboys would again try to throw, but Jason Witten was called for holding. The penalty was accepted and on the ensuing second down play, Prescott was sacked for an 11-yard loss. On 3rd and 23, Prescott found Witten for a 7-yard completion.
- On fourth down, Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey missed a 34-yard field goal.
- The game was effectively over at this point. Had Dallas gotten the ball to Elliott, there was a strong possibility that they would have fond the end zone and cut the Seattle lead.
Key Decision #2:
- The Seahawks have a big receiving corps which includes tight end Jimmy Graham. Though they struggled greatly on offense, they were able to find the end zone and use their pass catchers’ size to force mismatches. Seattle was able to score their first two offensive touchdowns due to pass interference penalties because the smaller Cowboys defensive backs were having issues with the bigger pass catchers.
Key Decision #3:
- The Dallas offensive line needed help. The decision to not someone in that could protect QB Prescott or chip at edge rushers would prove to be the team’s downfall. Offensive tackle Byron Bell needed help in pass protection and the Cowboys were unable and unwilling to provide it. Seattle teed off, especially late in the game when it became obvious that Dallas would need to throw to get back in the game. Seattle knew that the Cowboys offensive line could not hold up.
Key Decision #4:
- Seattle’s defense stepped up after having a tough time the week before against the NFC West Champion, Los Angeles Rams.
- Seattle decided they would play man on WR Dez Bryant rather than double team him. Perhaps earlier in his career, Dez would be a player that a team like Seattle would roll a safety over to his side for. Dallas doesn’t have enough playmakers on this roster to help Prescott and Elliott against a defense like Seattle. By “singling” Dez Bryant, Seattle was able to get into a good defensive rhythm. Dallas would not score an offensive touchdown.
Key Decision #5:
- The Dallas defensive line also had success against the Seattle offensive line. The Cowboys front didn’t allow Seattle to get into any offensive rhythm. QB Russell Wilson threw for 93 yards on 21 passing attempts and two touchdowns. Taco Charlton was a constant disruptive force throughout the game.
Key Decision #6:
- Dan Bailey kicked a 51-yard field goal to take a 9-7 lead into the half. Dallas had saved two timeouts at the end of the half, after a Seattle touchdown that allowed them to move the ball downfield in order to attempt a field goal. However, they used their final timeout with 18 seconds left and they attempted one more pass play (incomplete pass to TE Jason Witten) before attempting a field goal. By calling a timeout at 18 rather than spiking the ball, they may have stopped themselves from running a play to the end zone or at very least, a more makeable field goal attempt. The field goal attempt was good anyway.
- Seattle had more penalty yards (142) than they did total yards (136).
- The Dallas loss keeps them out of the playoffs. They have missed the playoffs in two of the last three years. In Jason Garrett’s seven full seasons as head coach, the Cowboys have made the playoffs twice (2014 and 2016).