Even though it was the final preseason game, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the final seconds, 27-26, thanks in part to players who were playing for their NFL lives.
It was maybe not surprising that Dallas fell behind quickly given that the Cowboys played mostly backups throughout the whole game while nine of the Seahawks’ 11 offensive starters were on the field early. However, the squad fought back, leveling the score late in the third quarter. And then recovering from a deficit once more in the fourth to secure the victory.
Dallas’ defensive performance brought back memories of their NFL-leading 34 takeaways from the previous season. In this game, the team collected five points thanks to four interceptions and one fumble recovery. The Seahawks only converted on one out of five trips into the red zone. While the Cowboys limited Seattle to only a 15 percent third down success rate.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Cowboys’ Will Grier spent most of the game in the pocket. But he might not have contributed enough to displace Cooper Rush as the backup quarterback. He made inconsistent throws, only managing 88 yards with two touchdown passes for a passer rating of 94.5. Rush managed just two of his five attempts for 40 yards. Although he only participated in one series of plays before the remainder of the evening was over.
The Cowboys’ offense performed admirably once more on the ground, gaining a total of 128 yards. Prior to leaving the game rookie Aaron Shampklin led the way with 54 yards on 13 carries. Malik Davis maintained his solid play with 44 yards on 15 attempts in his fight to make the squad.
Rush won the first offensive series in the competition for the backup quarterback position. But Grier took over in the second half. However, neither could accomplish much in the first quarter as the offense only managed a total of 21 yards.
The defense had to deal with numerous Seahawks starters since Seattle was still deciding who would be its starting quarterback. On the visitor’s first series, though, the unit only allowed Geno Smith to attempt a 53-yard field goal. Before Drew Lock was intercepted by Israel Mukuamu, the safety’s second pick of the preseason.
However, the Seahawks only required two plays to get into the end zone as the Cowboys were unable to convert a fourth-and-4 at the Seattle 44-yard line. Despite some good coverage from rookie cornerback Daron Bland. A 35-yard Lock pass to Penny Hart made it possible to score, giving Seattle a 10-0 lead.
On their opening drive of the second quarter, the Cowboys finally gained momentum, running the ball six times for a total of 32 yards to go as close as the Seattle 6-yard line. Dallas had to be content with Brett Maher’s 28-yard field goal, but the home team had scored.
The Seahawks answered with a field goal of their own, a 29-yarder. But on Seattle’s following drive, the Cowboys recorded their second interception of the evening. Nahshon Wright blocked the Lock’s pass. Who then returned the pick 22 yards to the Seahawks’ 32.
When the Cowboys took control with a little over two minutes left in the half. Grier scrambled for 16 yards, and Davis added 13 more to give Dallas a first-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line with 1:24 left in the half. Grier threw a dart to wideout Simi Fehoko in the back of the end zone two snaps later to reduce the deficit to 13-10 at halftime.
Seattle would quickly increase that lead back to ten points, beginning the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended in another touchdown. When a Lock pass was incomplete on third-and-7 at the Cowboys’ 45-yard line, Dallas had a chance to halt the drive. But the referee penalized Sam Williams for roughing the passer, which allowed the Seahawks to continue their drive and final score on a 1-yard run by DeeJay Dallas.
But the Cowboys came back. Grier immediately returned and directed the offense on a 10-play, 58-yard drive, setting Maher up for a successful 35-yard field goal. Finally, undrafted rookie safety Markquese Bell returned a tipped ball 29 yards to the Seahawks’ 13-yard line during the following Seattle drive.
Two plays later, receiver Brandon Smith made an exquisite tiptoe grab along the left sideline to score a touchdown. And with that, the score tied at 20-20 going into the fourth quarter.
Throughout the first nine minutes of the fourth frame, both sides had the opportunity to make field goals. Unfortunately, Dallas failed to deliver while the Seahawks did. Of course, Seattle’s attempts were two 28-yard boots. And in the space between those, Maher emerged for a long 61-yard try that seemed to have enough distance but flew narrowly wide left.
However, the Cowboys were not finished, especially tight end Peyton Hendershot. Early in the drive, the youngster grabbed a 15-yard pass and was then struck hard, losing his helmet and earning an unnecessary roughness penalty that added another 15 yards. He recovered, though, and caught another Ben DiNucci pass before sprinting 14 yards and diving across the goal line. Hendershot’s work gave Dallas a 27-26 advantage.
The Cowboys’ defense would be put to the test over the final four minutes but held strong. On the Seahawks’ final possession of the night, safety Juanyeh Thomas caught a tipped pass for the club’s fourth interception after the team mishandled a snap, sending the ball straight into the arms of rookie linebacker Storey Jackson.
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