Hard-hitting defensive play was enough to keep the Seahawks in the game against the Cowboys in the first half, but penalties and turnovers in the second half doomed Seattle to a 23-13 loss in Dallas.
All six of the Cowboys' first half points came on field goals from the 2-yard line, as Seattle was determined to keep them out of the end zone.
If not for a hit by rookie cornerback Richard Sherman that forced a goal-line fumble by Dez Bryant, things could have started to get out of hand quickly. Instead of being down 13-3 on a sure touchdown by Bryant, the Seahawks tied it up at six with an impressive 80-yard drive to the Dallas 13.
After taking the kickoff after halftime, it looked like the Seahawks were going to continue pushing the ball down field on the ground. But a holding call pushed them back 10 yards and stalled the drive. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the punt helped give the Cowboys good field position. Five plays later, Tony Romo hit a wide-open Jason Witten for a 33-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, a 19-yard catch by Mike Williams and a 43-yard pass to Sidney Rice helped get the Seahawks into field-goal range. But the 41-yard attempt was blocked when Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer hurdled Seahawks long snapper Clint Gresham.
The Seahawks' only touchdown game on a four-yard run by Marshawn Lynch with six minutes left in the game, not enough time to erase the 10-point deficit they needed to overcome.
“We didn’t finish the drives, and we had a field goal blocked today,” said Carroll. “We got down there and we had our chances. This is a game where red zone offense would have won the game for you.”
Among the positive takeaways from the game today was Seattle proved they could protect the quarterback and run the football on one of the league’s top run defenses. Lynch ran for 135 yards on 23 carries, the first regular season 100-yard rushing performance since Justin Forsett ran for 130 yards against the Rams in 2009.
They offensive line even kept one of the league’s top pass rushers in check. After sacking Michael Vick four times last Sunday, DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys didn’t get to Tarvaris Jackson once.
After the game, Carroll talked about getting back to Seattle and building on the positives as well as addressing the mistakes. He noted the penalties, turnovers and poor tackling against the run in particular. He also hoped for some good fortune in the second half of the season.
“Sometimes the halfway point is just magically different, because you just turn it,” said Carroll. “We’ll see if the young group can take hold and get going.”
Carroll said he was disappointed with the way things have gone this year and attributed some of the difficulties to having a young team and that the wins would come eventually.
“We’ve known about being a young team all along,” said Carroll. “When do you get experience? Well, I don’t know. I wish I knew that.”
Another thing that is extremely frustrating is that last year’s 7-9 team is better than this year’s 7-1 49ers team. But as Carroll mentioned, this Seattle team is young much younger overall than even a year ago. Now that this 2011 team is 2-6 halfway through the season, 7-9 is starting to look a lot better.
Can this year’s team make it to 7-9 again? It’s still possible, and it would definitely help salvage a poor start while giving Seattle something good to build on going into next season.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the military chapter of the Sea Hawkers, the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.