The Dallas Cowboys are back, they got away from what made them special back in the 90’s when they were winning championships. Running. The. Football. That newfound desire to run the ball has the Cowboys sitting amongst the top teams in the league with a 5-1 record. Their latest victory being a 30-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle where nobody seems to win.
This season has been much different as the NFL’s leading rusher is on the Cowboys roster. DeMarco Murray has 785 yards on 159 carries with six touchdowns on the young season. Not only is Dallas 5-1, but the resurgence of the running game has affected nearly every other part of the team. It’s opened up the passing game, kept the Dallas defense fresh and given the Cowboys a great advantage in time of possession week in and week out. The now balanced offense has made the high powered Dallas offense even more juice, giving them the third best offense in the entire league. The Cowboys are averaging 160 yards per game on the ground and 283 yards per game in the air.
*Murray has joined the great Jim Brown for being the only running backs to start a season with six consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing*
Heading into the season, anyone who had a platform no matter the size, shouted that the Dallas defense would be one of the worst in league history. While the pass rush hasn’t been great, the Cowboys have been able to generate takeaways. Forcing five fumbles and tallying five interceptions along with ten sacks as a team.
Yesterday against Seattle, the defense was outstanding. Put in several bad situations thanks to special teams miscues, the defense held the Seahawks offense to just 206 total yards Outside of a 32 yard run, Marshawn Lynch aka “Beast Mode” was held in check as he finished the night with 60 yards on ten carries. Dallas was also able to keep Russell Wilson in the confines of the pocket as he was unable to improvise much or create any chunk plays with his mobility. Wilson ran the ball twice for just 12 yards. It started with Dallas stopping the run game, for as dynamic as Wilson may be, Seattle goes as Lynch goes.
All three levels of the Cowboys defense were working in sync, the defensive line did a good job of pressuring and keeping contain. The Dallas linebacking corps severely outplayed their Seattle counterparts, by stopping the run and in coverage. Rolando McClain went from out of the league for the past few years to living up to his potential rather quickly, McClain closed out the Seahawks with an interception on Seattle’s last drive. The secondary more than held it’s own, taking Percy Harvin out of the game and forcing the other wideouts to beat them and it just wasn’t happening.
The Cowboys offensive line was able to dominate the line of scrimmage, keeping the Seattle front seven at bay. Forcing the “Legion of Boom” to come up and really provide run support. Outside of Kam Chancellor (who Dallas did a great job of blocking), none of the other members of the secondary are punishing tacklers against the run. Which was needed against a physical back like Murray.
Tony Romo and the Dallas offense were spectacular on third down against Seattle, converting 10 of the 17 attempts on the “money” down. Now compare that to what their defense did to Seattle’s offense, the Seahawks were just five for 13 in third down situations. Romo and company were able to pass for 239 yards against one of the best defensive units in the NFL, all of which came from the success in the run game.
The matchup everyone was looking forward to watching was Richard Sherman versus Dez Bryant. While Dez didn’t have a typical big game by his standards, he was able to make several big plays that moved the chains. The biggest may have been the back shoulder grab in the fourth quarter on the game winning drive.
Last week, there were two amazing catches that made highlight reels everywhere by Dez Bryant and Brandon Lloyd. While there was debate last week as to which catch was better, Bryant’s teammate Terrance Williams may have beat them both. Not only was the beginning of the play a display of outstanding footwork by Romo, but the ability to drag his toes (Williams) while keeping concentration on the football was amazing.
The Dallas Cowboys will play their next three games at home, the biggest test in the upcoming games being against the Arizona Cardinals. If the Cowboys can stick to their new recipe for success, they have a great chance of being 8-1 after nine games. For the first time in what seems like “forever”, the Dallas Cowboys should be taken seriously, very seriously going forward.