DALLAS - Sunday won't be the first time the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks got together for the holidays in North Texas.
In 2008, the Seahawks traveled to Dallas for the final Thanksgiving Day game in Texas Stadium. (The Jonas Brothers were the halftime entertainment for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff for the curious) Like this weekend, the Cowboys' playoff hopes were on the line.
After going 1-2 without quarterback Tony Romo, who was recovering from a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, the Cowboys at 7-4 needed to make up lost ground with the New York Giants running away with the division 10-1 and the upstart Atlanta Falcons also at 7-4 and vying for a wildcard spot.
The Seahawks were in the lame duck season for head coach Mike Holmgren, who had led the NFC West team to three division titles and a Super Bowl appearance in his 10 seasons in the Pacific Northwest. At 2-9, even with franchise quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks may as well have been served alongside dressing and cranberry sauce that Thursday afternoon.
Dallas took the opening possession and mounted a five-play drive that saw Romo connecting with rookie tight end Martellus Bennett for a 16-yard touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead.
Another story line coming into the game was Seahawks running back Julius Jones making his return against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. As a Cowboy from 2004-06, Jones had one of the more memorable Turkey Day performances in his rookie year of '04 with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. The next week at Seattle on Monday Night Football, Jones tallied 198 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries.
True to form of the former second-round pick, Jones hurt the Seahawks and helped the Cowboys with a fumble on his second carry on the sixth play of the ensuing drive. Defensive end Marcus Spears forced it and cornerback Anthony Henry recovered it to halt Seattle's campaign inside Dallas territory.
Romo led the Cowboys on a nine-play drive that running back Marion Barber capped off with a 2-yard touchdown plunge to give Dallas a 14-0 lead with 4:53 in the first quarter. Barber's day would be cut short due to left guard Leonard Davis stepping on his right pinkie toe, and the third-year running back finished the afternoon with 10 carries for 32 yards and a lone score.
The Seahawks answered with a seven-play drive that saw kicker Olindo Mare respond with a 44-yard field goal. However, the Cowboys' replying salvo was another touchdown drive with Romo and tight end Jason Witten connecting for a 7-yard touchdown. Dallas pulled ahead 21-3 with 12:03 in the second quarter.
After a Seattle punt, the Cowboys finally added a field goal of their own as kicker Nick Folk made a 41-yard field goal with 7:38 in the second quarter.
The Seahawks put up six unanswered points in the form of Mare field goals: one from 38 yards away with 1:35 until halftime and then a 25-yarder with 9:40 in the third quarter. Dallas remained comfortably ahead 24-9, though Romo may have caused some Cowboys fans indigestion with Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant intercepting a pass intended for Terrell Owens.
However, the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out, and the two sides traded punts before Romo found Owens in a more satisfactory manner with a 19-yard touchdown with 2:24 in the third quarter.
Folk added another field goal, this one from 42 yards, to establish the game's 34-9 final score. Rookie running back Tashard Choice carried 11 times for 57 yards as Barber sat out the rest of the game. Witten led all receivers with nine catches for 115 yards and a score.
Though being blown out 42-7 by the Los Angeles Rams at home and on a two-game losing streak, the 2017 Seahawks are not as despondent as they were in '08. Will the Cowboys produce the same result as they did in 2008 at home during the holidays?
What are your favorite memories from the 2008 final season at Texas Stadium? Share them with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.
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