Dallas Cowboys persevere on their way to round two
By Tyrone Starr
Despite not playing their best game, the Dallas Cowboys found a way to overcome a tough opponent and move on in the playoffs for a much needed win.
It wasn’t easy, which is not particularly shocking as it rarely ever is for the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t pretty either. In the end, none of that matters because Saturday night’s 24-22 victory was exactly that. A victory.
The two-point win in a lot of ways was fitting for this team. The Dallas Cowboys dominated this matchup statistically. Dallas had more than double the number of first downs Seattle did. They gained almost 100 more yards and held Seattle to under 300 yards in total.
The Cowboys held the league’s number one rushing attack to just 73 yards on the ground. On the flip side, Dallas ran for 164 yards against the Seahawks. And yet, with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter, here were the Cowboys lining up to (hopefully) recover a sure onside kick attempt, clinging to a two-point lead.
The Dallas Cowboys led for all but five minutes of their Wild Card round matchup but winning never felt secure. They dominated but could never separate. In short, they persevered. Resiliency, perseverance, and an ability to overcome is exactly what head coach Jason Garrett wants from this team. It is the rare game where the Dallas Cowboys aren’t provided an opportunity to exhibit these traits.
Last night, in a true playoff scenario, the opportunity arose again and Dallas owned it in all facets. Offensively, quarterback Dak Prescott had his best game ever against the Seahawks Saturday night. Unfortunately, the stat line shows an interception, thanks to a blown non-call on an obvious pass interference.
Beyond that moment, Prescott displayed all of the intangibles that make him special. Both times Seattle took the lead, Dak led this team down the field for an answer. He put his body on the line with some timely runs. He made more good throws than bad in the passing game as well, which is crucial for his success.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott displayed why he’s the best running back in all of football. With almost 170 all purpose yards, gaining over five yards per carry and finding pay dirt, Elliott proved to be too much for Seattle’s defense to handle.
Receiver Amari Cooper once again came up big at home. Posting his fourth game with seven or more receptions and his third 100+ yard game in six games at AT&T Stadium, he gave this offense a few big plays at just the right time.
Ultimately though, the night belonged to the defense. This Seahawks team averaged 160 yards per game in 2018 but could not even get to 75 against the Cowboys. Seattle averaged almost 27 points per game in 2018 but needed a late garbage time touchdown just to reach 22.
The Cowboys held them to just five total yards in the first quarter and just seven yards in the fourth quarter before their last possession.
The linebacker duo of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith played phenomenal football. On the back end, corner Chidobe Awuzie had one of the best games of his young career. Up front, DeMarcus Lawrence and Antwaun Woods continually dominated the Seahawks offensive line.
Thanks to these efforts, the Dallas Cowboys are moving on. Once this afternoon is over, we will know if there is a rematch on the horizon with the New Orleans Saints or if Dallas goes back to California to face the Rams.
Either way, they are playing in the divisional round for just the third time this decade. Whoever the opponent is, the Dallas Cowboys will be packing a defense and a running game. They also will have the confidence of a playoff victory to pack too.