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Too many mistakes to win
ARLINGTON, Texas – A running game that has been missing all season finally showed up for the Seahawks on Sunday, but too many other elements of their collective game disappeared.
So despite a season-high 135-yard rushing performance by Marshawn Lynch, which including a rushing touchdown in his fourth consecutive game, the end result was a 23-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys before a crowd of 81,510 at Cowboys Stadium.
Coach Pete Carroll labeled the effort a classic, but not for the usual reasons associated with that tag.
“This was classic game where a team goes out and plays really hard and then makes the mistakes that puts you in the loss column,” he said.
While the running game averaged 5.4 yards per carry, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw three interceptions. A run defense that had not yielded a 100-yard rusher gave up 139 to Cowboys rookie DeMarco Murray, who averaged 6.3 yards against a unit that entered the game allowing a league-low 3.2.
Then there were the penalties – 10 for 88 yards, including seven in the second half.
“If we eliminate the small things,” wide receiver Sidney Rice said, “we’ll be a much better team. Small little setbacks. Nobody is doing this to us except ourselves.”
Instead, the Seahawks are 2-6 halfway through their second season under Carroll. The last time the Seahawks were 2-6? It was in 2008, Mike Holmgren’s 10th and final season as coach. Before that it was 2002, Holmgren’s fourth season. That also was the season just before the Seahawks went on the most successful five-season run in franchise history – when they won four NFC West title, a conference championship and advanced to the playoffs each season.
“I’m really disappointed where we are,” Carroll said. “I thought we could be better.”
With this win, the Cowboys are 12-9 at home since their new stadium opened in 2009. Two of those wins have come against the Seahawks, who also lost here in that inaugural season 38-17. In fact, the Seahawks became the only non-NFC East team – and only second team, period, joining the New York Giants – to lose to the Cowboys twice in their new digs.
The Cowboys won this one on two Tony Romo touchdown passes and three Dan Bailey field goals. The Seahawks countered with Lynch’s 4-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter and two field goals from Steve Hauschka.
The game was tied 6-6 at halftime, but the Seahawks’ mistakes prevented the kind of second-half momentum that carried them to their only victories of the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants.
The backbreaker, according to the defensive players, was Romo’s 33-yard TD pass to tight end Jason Witten midway through the third quarter that made it 13-6. The Seahawks blew the coverage, so Romo was able to throw to a wide-open Witten.
“We had the game close,” free safety Earl Thomas said. “But that pass to Witten was a momentum shift and kind of opened it up for them.”
Lynch did his best to keep the Seahawks in the game, breaking runs of 29, 19 and 16 yards en route to his season-high rushing total.
“Some really good things showed up,” Carroll said. “We found out we can run the ball.”
Can that carry over to the second half of the season, which begins next Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field? “I’m counting on it,” Carroll said.
But the Seahawks didn’t have a chance to win against the Cowboys because two things that had been working in the first half of the season let the team down.
Jackson shouldered his share of the blame for the loss, and then some.
“I feel very sick about how I played today,” he said.
His first interception came when he was trying to throw the ball away. The second was on what he and Carroll called “a bad throw, a bad decision.” The third game near the end of the game when he was just trying to make a needed play by forcing the ball to wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
“It’s disheartening,” Jackson said. “We had the passing game going. We were making plays in the passing game. We wanted to not be so predictable and run the ball. We were able to run the football today, but we weren’t able to pass it.”
Run the ball they did. Stopping the run was another story, as the Cowboys gained 163 rushing yards.
“There were a lot of misfits,” Thomas said, not to mention too many missed tackles. “He’s a cutback guy and he’s patient. He had a good game, but I think we could have held him better than we did today. It was just a lot of misfits and he found the right holes.
“We’re definitely frustrated. We play hard week in and week out and we don’t get the results we want.”