The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks 41-35 in a messy, mistake-filled nail-biter. Thursday’s primetime matchup was sloppy on both sides, both on the field and penalty-wise. The Cowboys still managed to squeak out a clutch win in the final quarter. The game was the 5th in NFL history to finish without a single punt. The Cowboys defense struggled against both the pass and the run. Here’s how the Dallas Cowboys will atone for each mistake and continue to improve.
Cowboys Atone for Careless Mistakes in 41-35 Nail Biter: How Each Mistake Will be Accounted For
There’s blood in the water, and the Seahawks were circling on Thursday.
Dallas’ defense left Thanksgiving’s matchup rather scraped up. Bland poured salt in their wounds after an abysmal performance on Thursday night. It’s hard to accept that the NFC Defensive Player of the Month was Dallas’ biggest liability. It’s the big pills that are hard to swallow.
Bland was targeted six times in the first half, surrendering two touchdowns and 137 on five receptions. Frankly, a wretched performance from a DPOY-caliber player. Bland’s costly mistakes put Dallas in multiple uncomfortable situations. He got called for a crucial 29-yard pass interference, allowing for a Seattle touchdown. He let DK Metcalf run right past him for a 73-yard score. His mistakes can not be ignored, no matter how well he was playing going into the game.
Bland had a stronger second half, recording an interception and deflecting a fourth-down pass. His field vision and sticky hands seemed to return after a strong halftime speech by Defensive Backs Coach Al Harris. We can’t throw Bland under the bus just yet, as his good plays vastly outweigh his bad. That being said, Bland’s upcoming December is going to be tough. He must continue to play physically and curtail his jersey-grabbing.
The Cowboys would have crushed the Seahawks if not for big mistakes by Bland. While he was burnt toast on Thursday, he atoned for his costly mistakes. Bland is due for another flashy, pass-heavy game down the stretch.
It’s not every day that a 33-year-old Geno Smith runs for a score in the red zone. That hurts.
Dallas doesn’t defend very well against the quarterback run. First, it was Josh Dobbs, then Jalen Hurts. It’s the sneaky runners that seem to confuse Dallas’ linebacker core. The Cowboys-Seahawks game was mistake riddles, especially over the middle of the field. Linebacker Damone Clark barely had his name called. LB/S Marquise Bell had some trouble but made impactful plays. Ever since the loss of linebacker Leighton Vander-Esch, Dallas has had a weak spot on defense. It’s still unclear if LVE will ever play a snap in the NFL ever again. Safe to say, Dallas’ Linebackers are in hot water.
Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami, Detroit, and Washington. Dallas’ upcoming five-game gauntlet all feature quarterbacks who can run. The Cowboys can’t commit mistake after mistake if they hope to beat teams with tenfold the Seahawks’ firepower.
First things first, newcomer Rashaan Evans must learn to get his head turned. He cost Dallas 40 penalty yards after the ball hit him in the back. It’s an easy fix and one that comes with time. Evans has five weeks until his second playoff appearance.
Next, Damone Clark must play better coverage on tight ends. Dallas allowed Seattle’s Noah Fant to break free several times virtually uncovered. Being the mike linebacker, Clark’s going to cover some tough players down the stretch. To play better, Clark must shed off tacklers and not get bullied around. The Cowboys-Seahawks matchup was mistake-filled, and Clark’s role is more important than many realize.
Dak Prescott’s protection wasn’t ideal on Thursday’s matchup. Prescott pulled multiple Houdini escape acts to complete passes that seemed nearly impossible. One mistake by the Cowboys in tougher-than-Seahawks matchups could be fatal. Terrence Steele put Dak’s safety in the air multiple times. It can’t continue if Dak and the Cowboys want to win a Super Bowl.
Steele Accounts for over 30% of Dallas’ total pressures allowed. Not pretty from a man who just received an $86 Million payday.
Hasson Reddick, Ed Oliver, Aiden Hutchinson. All in the next four weeks. Terrence Steele, are you listening? This part of the year is clutch time in terms of home-field advantage. It’s time to focus up, stop holding, and continue throwing pancake blocks. Steele will likely bounce back after a long week of rest and practice. Look for Steele to be a primary blocker in Dallas’ December 1oth rematch with Philadelphia.
Main Photo: Tim Heitman – USA Today Sports