The Dallas Cowboys made a statement on Sunday, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks 30–23 in their own house.
Dallas (5–1) won the battle of the trenches with their offensive line protecting quarterback Tony Romo, who is elusive to begin with, and guiding running back DeMarco Murray to his sixth straight 100-yard running game.
The Cowboys dominated the Seahawks 23–9 in first downs, 401–206 in total yards, and 37:39–22:21 in time of possession.
Despite the statistical dominance, they trailed 23–20 with less than five minutes to play. The turning point came when, facing 3rd-and-20, Romo scrambled and found Terrance Williams, who toe-dragged to stay in bounds and haul in a 23-yard completion. Three plays later, the Cowboys took the lead for good.
“You gotta make a couple of plays to beat a team like that and I thought our team did that,” Romo said.
“It’s one win,” Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said. “There’s a lot of things we can build on. We did a lot of positive things.”
Murray became only the second player in NFL history to run for at least 100 yards in each of his team’s first six games to start a season. The other is Hall of Famer Jim Brown who did it in 1958.
“He’s got a really cool style of breaking tackles,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said about Murray’s running game.
It has been easy to write off Dallas year after year because of various weaknesses, but comprehensively beating Seattle by overcoming a bad start is especially noteworthy. Seattle’s a very difficult place for visiting teams to get wins; the Seahawks have now lost only 2 of their last 20 home games.
Garrett talked about overcoming three big plays—a blocked punt that was run back for a touchdown in the first quarter and two lost fumbles.
He said the best thing the Cowboys did was to have the “mental toughness to overcome circumstance.”
“Any other time, we would’ve blinked,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said. “We would’ve folded and gave up.”
Mental toughness hasn’t been Dallas’ strength in recent years, but this team seems to have it.
“We’re trying to establish our identity,” tight end Jason Witten told NBC.
Dallas has now won five games in a row after an error-filled loss in Week 1 at home to San Francisco.
They overcame a 21–0 deficit to beat St. Louis in Week 3, proving they can overcome adversity on the scoreboard.
Dallas has a formula for success with the running of Murray and Romo’s scrambling ability, which helps him find his talented receivers. And the Cowboys defense kept Seahawks QB Russell Wilson off-balance and shut down Marshawn Lynch and the NFL’s top-ranked running game.
It’s the first time since 2007 that Dallas has won five of its first six games. They went on to finish that season with a 13–3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They lost to the New York Giants who went on to beat the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Next week, Dallas has an even more important game at home to a divisional rival, the New York Giants (3–3). The Giants were pounded 27–0 by the Philadelphia Eagles (5–1) and know that a loss would put them in a difficult position to make the playoffs.
The Cowboys have a tough schedule with their division matched up against the NFC West. They have yet to face Arizona (4–1) and have two crucial games against the Eagles.
But for the moment, Dallas is the complete package and has to be considered one of the NFL’s best surprises to date after not winning more than eight games in each of the last four seasons.
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