The Dallas Cowboys improved to 9-3 with their win over the Seahawks on Thursday. Dak Prescott's heroic performance did a lot to mask what was a nightmare showing from Dan Quinn's defense, which allowed 35 points, 406 total yards (334 passing), and a 64.2% conversion rate (9-of-14) on third down.
While the Cowboys' pass rush showed up late and proved it can still wreck a game by delivering in the clutch even amid a dreadful performance, Thursday's showing isn't sustainable if Dallas is to make a deep playoff run.
Prescott is playing arguably the best football of his career, but he can't be asked to play the role of Superman every week. At some point, the defense has to show up against a high-powered offense, or at least string together some stops before the fourth quarter.
It's anyone's guess if the D is capable of that, but Quinn should experiment with some changes before it's too late. The playoffs are right around the corner, and Dallas faces some formidable offenses in December.
3. Less snaps for Jayron Kearse
Kearse has rebounded from an awful start to the season, but that isn't saying much.
We don't view Pro Football Focus' player grades as gospel, but Week 13 was Kearse's worst performance of the season by a mile. His 27.8 player grade was the lowest on the defense among players who logged at least 20 snaps.
Kearse only allowed two catches on three targets for 35 yards, but he was lost in coverage all game. The "tight end stopper" got beat for a long reception by Noah Fant (!) and his awareness in zone looks was a travesty. On D.K Metcalf's three-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter Kearse ran with the wrong defender, which allowed Metcalf to spring wide open in the back of the end zone.
The score gave Seattle a 35-27 lead. Luckily, Dak Prescott engineered a fourth-quarter comeback, but this is the version of Kearse fans have seen all year. He won't be outright benched, but he should see fewer snaps going forward. The vet is a shell of the difference-maker he was for most of the previous two seasons.