The Seattle Seahawks starting 0-2 under Pete Carroll doesn't happen often, but it did in 2018. For the second time since Carroll took over as coach in 2010, Seattle had a goose egg in the win column after two weeks.
The Dallas Cowboys were 1-1 after two weeks two years ago, but their offense was the most lackluster it had ever been in the Jason Garrett era. Dallas still had Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, but the offensive line was taking a ding early in the season with center Travis Frederick out with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and also from growing pains with rookie Connor Williams at left guard.
Quarterback Dak Prescott had to forge new connections in the passing game as the team had released Dez Bryant in the offseason and tight end Jason Witten retired. The coaching staff was trying to convince itself a receiver-by-committee with Terrance Williams, free agent Allen Hurns, and rookie Michael Gallup was going to replace Bryant's production.
Throw in Tavon Austin, and the Cowboys had their "web back," a hallmark of Scott Linehan's tenure as offensive coordinator that never really manifested into much of an offensive weapon.
Statement games don't come often that early in the season, but Dallas had a chance to make one in Week 3 of 2018 at CenturyLink Field. If they could beat the vaunted Seahawks in their hostile venue, even if they were 0-2, it would assuage concerns that the Cowboys mismanaged their personnel acquisition in the offseason.
One of those personnel acquisition decisions was not trading for Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. After Seattle beat Dallas in Week 16 to end their playoff hopes in 2017, Thomas, a former Texas Longhorn yearning to play pro ball back in the Lone Star State, chased Garrett down in the tunnel before going into the locker room. Thomas pleaded his case for the Cowboys to come get him at the first opportunity.
Dallas didn't trade for All-Pro Thomas, and he was still with the Seahawks by the time that Dallas ventured up to Seattle some months later.
Seattle won the toss and deferred, and Dallas went three-and-out, which made Seattle's decision to defer look smart. After a 12-play drive that stalled out at the Cowboys' 49-yard line, Dallas got the ball back. However, Prescott gave it right back with Thomas making an acrobatic interception. Initially ruled incomplete, Carroll challenged and the ruling changed to an interception.
Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. The game was developing the feeling that the Cowboys offense was never going to start while the Seahawks were at some point going to fire up. The Seahawks did get their offense going with quarterback Russell Wilson capping off a 10-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jaron Brown.
To respond to the Seahawks’ opening score with 9:28 left in the second quarter, Dallas sent Brett Maher out for a 50-yard field goal to chip into Seattle's lead 7-3.
Dallas had the Seahawks right where they wanted them with a third-and-9 from Seattle's 48-yard line. But the thing with Wilson is he finds a way to ignite the offense and pull the Seahawks out of less than ideal situations. The Super Bowl winner threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to wideout Tyler Lockett to extend Seattle's lead 14-3.
Stalling out the ensuing drive with less than two minutes before halftime is bad enough, but allowing Lockett to return the punt 18 yards to the Seattle 42 is even worse. With 49 seconds left, Wilson got the Seahawks close enough to field goal range, but an incomplete pass on third-and-7 from the Cowboys' 44-yard line appeared as though it was going to kill that drive.
However, defensive end Randy Gregory helped Sebastian Janikowski get into closer field goal range with an unnecessary roughness call. The former Oakland Raider hit the 47-yard field goal to give Seattle a 17-3 lead at the break.
The Cowboys at least stopped Seattle on their opening drive of the third quarter. Otherwise, the game could have really gotten out of hand to 2012 levels when Dallas went to Seattle in Week 2 and lost 27-7. After a trade of punts, the Cowboys put together an eight-play scoring drive. It was another Maher field goal, this time from 35 yards out, to scrape at Seattle's lead, 17-6.
As the Cowboys were kicking field goals, the Seahawks were scoring touchdowns, and running back Chris Carson ran for a 5-yarder to give the Seahawks a 24-6 lead.
Now the Cowboys, with 12:54 to go, were at the point in the game where they were prone to playing hero ball. Elliott sought to be the biggest hero as he caught a 26-yard pass, but fumbled at the 13-yard line with Seattle recovering. Though the Cowboys forced a three-and-out on the next drive, the possession and possible points had been lost to Dallas, putting them even further behind the eight ball with the clock dwindling.
With 7:15 to play, Prescott finally threw a touchdown pass to Austin from three yards out. Seattle led 24-13 with 7:11 to play.
Dallas had a chance to mount a comeback. They had all three of their timeouts. On a fourth-and-3 from the Dallas 27, Prescott connected with receiver Cole Beasley for a 16-yard gain, and Dallas netted a roughing the passer call.
Dallas was in striking range at Seattle's 42-yard line with 4:25 to play. When Dallas got to the 19-yard line, Thomas proved again how valuable he could be to a defense by picking off Prescott for a second time. Thomas got a taunting penalty as he went over to the Cowboys' sideline and took a bow.
Dallas would get the ball back with 1:05, but it was too late that point to avoid a 1-2 start.
On Sunday, Thomas won't be the sidelines; heck, he won't even be in the NFL. Garrett won't be on the Cowboys' sidelines; it will be coach Mike McCarthy. On the field, Dallas won't have Beasley, Austin, and Hurns either; they'll have Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and a fledgling "baby Dez" in Gallup.
And with no fans – thus no 12th Man at CenturyLink Field – the only thing hostile and formidable about Seattle will be Carroll, Wilson, and the lingering mystique of the Legion of Boom.
Do you think the Cowboys will be able to right a wrong from two years ago and beat the Seahawks in Seattle? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.