Matt Hasselbeck had his first good game in a very long time, completing a season-high 22-of-38 passes for 287 yards, also a season-high. Hasselbeck was constantly under siege from the Cowboys' pass rush, and was sacked 7 times and knocked down 13 times. Hasselbeck failed to throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted. Sadly, Hasselbeck's 70.8 passer rating makes today his 2nd-best game of the season.
Running Backs: C-
Julius Jones got the start and reverted back to the guy Dallas gradually phased out of their offense. Jones fumbled on Seattle's first drive and carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards in the 1st half. Jones would carry the ball just one more time, a 16-yard carry in the 4th quarter on which he fumbled the ball out of bounds. He would leave the game with a head injury. Maurice Morris stepped in and had 6 carries for 10 yards, but made some nice plays as a receiver out of the backfield. T.J. Duckett had 20 yards in mop-up duty on Seattle's final possession. Fullback Leonard Weaver touched the ball twice, but his highlight of the day was a knockout block on Cowboys linebacker Bradie James.
Wide receiver/Tight Ends: B-
Seahawks rookie tight end John Carlson continues to be one of the lone bright spots in this miserable 2008 season, equaling a career-high with 6 receptions and posting the first 100-yard game of his NFL career. Deion Branch and Bobby Engram both made plays, combining for 9 catches and 101 yards. Koren Robinson made a very nice catch along the sidelines, but again suffered a few dropped passes.
Offensive Line: D
The Seahawks struggled to run the ball in the 1st half (11 carries, 22 yards) and even if Hasselbeck were completely healthy, he took far too many hits today. Under normal circumstances, I'd dole out a big ol' "F" on this group. However, I'm going to be lenient for four reasons:
1. Center Steve Vallos was making his 1st NFL start.
2. Seattle only had one day of practice.
3. Dallas' defense is very good.
4. Today's a holiday.
Defensive Line: F
On the play where Hasselbeck's pass/prayer was intercepted by Terence Newman, Branch was credited with a tackle. Therefore, he appears on the official stat sheet with (1) tackle. Guess who doesn't appear on today's official stat sheet? Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson, Seattle's starting defensive ends. Additionally, no defensive lineman had more than 2 tackles, so while Brandon Mebane got a couple of hits on Tony Romo, and Rocky Bernard got some pressure on the game's first play and then mixed it up with Terrell Owens after the Cowboys took a 14-0 lead, this group didn't show up today.
How many times were Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson being beaten trying to cover a Cowboys receiver or tight end? How many plays did either of them make today? None come to mind. Factor in Leroy Hill's shoulder injury early in the game, and today's was a forgettable game by the team's best unit.
Secondary: D Romo was able to connect with Owens and Roy Williams on pass plays of 26, 38 and 33 yards, and starting cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Marcus Trufant were each flagged for penalties. Deon Grant dropped an easy interception and Wilson whiffed on a few sack opportunities as a blitzer. Trufant did add his 1st interception of the season.
Special Teams: C
Olindo Mare provided all of Seattle's points today, connecting on all three of his field goal attempts. Mare also delivered a pair of touchbacks, which was beneficial as the Seahawks' kick coverage unit struggled. Former University of Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback returned a kick 58 yards in the 2nd quarter. Jon Ryan punted 7 times for a solid net average of 42.3 yards per kick. Ryan's best of the day was a 60-yard punt he placed out of bounds at the Cowboys' 5-yard line. Naturally Dallas went on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ate 6 minutes of clock and put three more points on the scoreboard. Seattle's return units were nothing spectacular today, either. Josh Wilson averaged just 21 yards per return, with his longest of the day going for 30 yards. Justin Forsett fair caught two punts and averaged 6 yards on his two returns. Linebacker and special teams captain Lance Laury was flagged for an illegal block in the back penalty on Forsett's second return.
It was a short week, so I suppose some slack should be cut. But what I can't understand is why the Seahawks to rush four guys for much of the 1st half, which created no pressure and allowed Tony Romo to complete 14-of-21 pass attempts for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns, before unleashing the hounds and blitzing like mad in the second-half when they were already trailing by 18 points? Some teams make those adjustments midstream, some teams don't. Those who do usually are the teams with more wins.
Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.