Game Preview: Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys

In the spirit of the movie "Groundhog Day" the men from "Big D" head back to the scene of the crime, Qwest Field, where they virtually stole a game from the Hawks last season on Monday Night Football. This game doesn't mean anything in the standings, but you know head coach Mike Holmgren and the men in Seahawk Blue will be looking for payback, whether the game counts or not.

What: Preseason game #2
When: Monday, August 22nd, 5 p.m. (PST)
Where: Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
TV/Radio: ABC/KOMO (4) TV and KIRO 710 AM


Cowboys Key Players:

QB Drew Bledsoe: After veteran QB Vinny Testaverde failed to take the team to the playoffs and head coach Bill Parcells determined that young signal-caller Drew Henson wasn't ready to take over the reigns of the offense, the team signed Bledsoe to come in and be the veteran presence the offense needs. Last year in Buffalo, Bledsoe completed 56.9% of his passes, for 2,932 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He still has a strong arm and nice touch when needed, but his decision-making has been suspect recently and he has no mobility whatsoever. If he can cut down on the interceptions this season and be accurate, he could lead this team back to the postseason.

RB Julius Jones: After starting the season slow, Jones exploded on the scene in the final seven games last season rushing for all but 16 yards of his 819 during that stretch. He also had seven touchdowns. His best rushing effort was against – yeah you guessed it, the Seahawks – when he ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns including the game winner. Jones is explosive, possessing that extra gear when he gets in the open field to run away from defenders. He needs to run tougher between the tackles and improve his pass blocking, but there is not denying that he is one of the better young running backs to come into the league in the last few years.

MLB Dat Nguyen: Nguyen doesn't have the body of the prototypical linebacker that teams are looking for. However, Nguyen gets a lot out of his undersized body. At only 5'11" and 235 pound, Nguyen uses his quickness and instincts to read a play and disrupt the execution before the back can get going. He struggles when he has to take on blockers straight up, but he still managed to lead the Cowboys last season with 107 tackles while also posting a sack, a forced fumble, three interceptions and five passes defensed.

SS Roy Williams: Too many times last season, Williams was asked to drop into coverage to cover for the inexperienced and undermanned corner positions. While he plays well in space, he isn't adept at pass-coverage. Williams is an excellent tackler, acting as another linebacker on running plays. He also has a nose for the ball and seems to make big plays when the team needs it most. He finished second on the team with 88 tackles and posted one forced fumble and two interceptions. He is at his best when he plays close to the line and can run to the ball. This year he should be able to post better numbers because the corners should be better and the pass rush should also be improved.


Key Matchups:

Seahawks OL vs. Cowboys DL: LT Walter Jones, LG Steve Hutchinson, C Robbie Tobeck, RG Chris Gray and RT Floyd Womack and their backups played well in their preseason debut, but they should be tested by the Cowboys front seven. Dallas will be one of nine teams using the 3-4 scheme as their base defensive set and the Hawks will be facing some young players who will rotate throughout the game. Veteran DT Jason Ferguson was signed in the offseason to play the nose tackle spot in the new defense and his quickness and relentless approach to the game are welcomed additions to the stop unit. Rookie defensive ends Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty are all expected to see plenty of playing time this year. They are athletic and good fits for the new defensive scheme.

Seattle receivers vs. Cowboys cornerbacks: Dallas' secondary was a weakness last season, but they did their best this offseason to address their talent deficiencies. Third-year cornerback Terrance Newman is very athletic and should be able to recover from a sub-par season in 2004. Newman along with veterans Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn are hoping to improve on Dallas' horrendous showing last season in the secondary where the team allowed 31 touchdown passes while only posting 13 interceptions. The Seahawks wideouts did some nice things in their preseason opener, but they still had too many drops and it remains to be seen if they can gain the necessary concentration to nip that problem in the bud before it gets out of control yet again.

Seahawks DL vs. Cowboys OL: Picking up RG Marco Rivera in free agency was a solid move on the Cowboys' part during the offseason. He combines with LT Flozell Adams, LG Larry Allen and C Al Johnson to form one of the biggest and most talented lines in the NFC. The Cowboys need to find a right tackle to play alongside Rivera, but if they can find someone who at least can hold their own, they should be able to push some defenses around. DT's Chartric Darby and Marcus Tubbs are the starters and they played well against New Orleans last week. Even backups Craig Terrill and Cleveland Pickney had solid outings. If DE's Bryce Fisher, Grant Wistrom and Antonio Cochran can generate a pass-rush against this offensive line, they could be well on their way to having a good season.


News and Notes: Last week backup QB Seneca Wallace staked his claim as the number two quarterback behind Matt Hasselbeck. Look for him to continue to get reps in game situations as head coach Mike Holmgren tries to get a read on his third-year signal-caller; Last year's third running back, Kerry Carter, is in the battle of his life as free agent Marquis Weeks is doing his best to put the pressure on the third year back from Stanford. Carter played well with the second unit, but Weeks showed good explosion and solid return skills on special teams. If it comes down to special teams play, Weeks may have the edge; Last week Dallas' starters were held without a point against the Arizona Cardinals. Look for Bledsoe to play into the second quarter this week as Parcells hopes to build more continuity on the offensive side of the ball.


Final Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Dallas 17

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Feel free to contact him at Top Stories