That went just about as expected.
The big blows were a fumble by Justin Forsett that led to a quick Dallas touchdown in the second quarter and an 82-yard punt-return touchdown by Patrick Crayton in the third quarter. In between, the Seahawks just didn’t sustain enough drives and they gave up too many connections to Tony Romo and his 10 different receivers.
Matt Hasselbeck’s ribs obviously were bugging him. When he was under pressure, he threw from a crouch, usually folding quickly so he wouldn’t take a big hit. And he often grabbed his broken ribs between plays. He got banged around a lot in the third quarter especially, after the Hawks had fallen behind 35-10 and the Cowboys were teeing off on him. Overall, he was hit six times and sacked three times.
The running game was somewhat effective early, with Julius Jones running hard against his former team. But he ended with only 56 yards on 15 carries, and the Hawks rushed for only 79 yards—partly because they fell behind and had to throw it in the second half.
After a promising first half, the Seahawks’ offense disappeared in the second half, punting on its first five possessions and leaving the defense on the field for far too long.
The defense was not good against the pass, as Romo picked apart the zone. He hit 10 receivers in the game, throwing TD passes to Sam Hurd, Roy Williams and Miles Austin. Romo completed 21-of-36 for 256 yards and had no throws picked off.
The Seattle secondary helped the Cowboys by not tackling well. Five players failed to corral Hurd on his 36-yard romp down the sideline in the first quarter.
The Hawks gave up 228 yards in the first half, 362 for the game, and allowed Dallas to convert 7-of-13 third downs. The Cowboys had 26 first downs overall, 15 through the air, and they out-possessed the Hawks by nine minutes.
Marcus Trufant’s first game of the season was one to forget. He was flagged for three penalties and had trouble with Austin all game.
He was called for a crucial—and questionable—pass interference penalty when Austin ran into him and they ended up in a heap as the ball soared overhead. That 20-yard penalty gave Dallas a first down at Seattle’s 23-yard line.
Then Austin got by Trufant on third-and-10 for a 16-yard gain, and the Cowboys ended up scoring on a pass from Romo to Williams to go up 21-10 with 35 seconds left in the first half. It was a demoralizing end to a solid first-half effort by the Hawks.
Trufant also was called for pass interference on the goal line while covering Williams in the third quarter. Then he gave up a TD pass to Austin that gave Dallas a commanding 28-10 lead.
All in all, Trufant looked like a guy who hadn’t played all year.
Seattle’s best defender was David Hawthorne, who made his second start as he replaces the injured Lofa Tatupu for the rest of the season. Hawthorne was out of position on a few plays, but he made quite a few plays, too. He led the Hawks with eight tackles, had the team’s only two sacks and forced a fumble.
Leroy Hill, back from a groin injury, didn’t have much of an impact.
The two other changes to the starting lineup were on the offensive line. Damion McIntosh, signed two weeks ago, held his own in his first start at left tackle. He gave up a sack to DeMarcus Ware on third-and-17 in the third quarter, but otherwise McIntosh didn’t seem to get embarrassed. That bodes well for the coming weeks.
The biggest trouble came in the middle, where Rob Sims (back after missing two games with a sprained ankle) and Chris Spencer had some communication miscues. The most obvious was their failure to pick up a blitz in the second quarter. Bobby Carpenter came in through the front door and was on top of Hasselbeck before he could set to throw.
The Seahawks broke out two of their better weapons again—tight end John Carlson and Seneca Wallace.
Carlson caught three passes for 36 yards—all in the first half. But then he disappeared in the second half.
Wallace made three appearances. The first came on the first drive, as he lined up in the shotgun and handed the ball to Jones, who broke it up the middle for seven yards.
On his second play, in the second quarter, Wallace handed off to Edgerrin James, who ran to the left and flipped to Hasselbeck, who had lined up on the left. Hasselbeck threw back down the right side to Wallace, but he threw it behind Wallace because the safety had Wallace covered over the top. Wallace fell down trying to get back to the ball.
Wallace also handed off to Jones in the third quarter. The play went nowhere, but the Seahawks got a 5-yard penalty against Dallas for holding.
It was nice to see the Seahawks make use of Wallace. They just need to do better than four yards per play when he is in.
Other observations …
**Deion Branch scored his first TD of the season, a nice catch against good coverage on a perfectly thrown ball by Hasselbeck for a 23-yard score in the second quarter. Of course, it was Branch’s only catch. Not bad for $5 million.
**Expect to hear more from T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week about his lack of involvement after he finished with four catches for a season-low 24 yards. He was visibly upset at Hasselbeck for missing him in the first quarter. He probably will be mad that he had only six balls thrown his way, while Nate Burleson had 12 thrown to him (catching six for 89 yards).
**The Hawks’ front four got almost no pressure on Romo. Lawrence Jackson, Cory Redding and Darryl Tapp combined to hit Romo five times, but they got no sacks and didn’t help the secondary enough.
**For the first time this season, the Seahawks actually had to make some decisions regarding the seven-man inactive list. For the first seven weeks, it was always pretty clear cut because almost everyone on the list was injured. This week, with Walter Jones and Tatupu going on IR and Hill and Sims returning to action, the only injured inactives were Sean Locklear, C.J. Wallace and Travis Fisher. Also not active were rookie TE C.J. Morrah, defensive tackle Craig Terrill and new additions Louis Rankin and Mike Gibson. Terrill was inactive for the first time since 2006.
**The Seahawks sure could use a premier pass rusher, a playmaking safety and a couple of good offensive linemen.