DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys experienced another heartbreaking loss with a 38-31 finish in Seattle on Sunday. Quarterback Russell Wilson, the presumptive current MVP front-runner, threw for five touchdowns in the game for the Seahawks. Dak Prescott attempted to go blow-for-blow with Wilson but he and the Cowboys ultimately fell short.
The good news first: The last time that Dallas started 1-2 after playing Seattle in Week 3, they made the playoffs and beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card game. The bad news is that the amount of injuries piling up on this football team is bordering on absurd.
However, even with all of the missing parts, Prescott accounted for almost 500 yards of offense and threw three touchdown passes. Each TD went for 40 or more yards as the offense embraced the air attack. In the end, it still wasn't enough.
So, of course, as with any Cowboys loss, the media and fans alike want to play the blame game to determine just who was responsible for the latest loss.
Well, Prescott is the easy target. The quarterback is always going to be at the front of the line when it comes time to assign blame. The refrain becomes, "Prescott just couldn't get it done when it mattered." While that’s true in a literal sense as the ball was in his hands and the Cowboys did not pick up the win, in context, the claim just doesn't hold much merit.
Yes, Prescott turned the ball over three times, but the good far outweighed the bad when it came to the QB play from Dak on Sunday. The first turnover came late in the first half where Shaquill Griffin jumped in front of Amari Cooper, that was definitely a poor decision.
However, as the Cowboys opened the second half, another turnover was credited to Prescott that was not of his own making. A decimated Cowboys’ offensive line was unable to slow the Seattle pass rush down and that gave the Seahawks a shot at Prescott. Guard Connor Williams was shoved backwards right into Prescott's lap and the play never had a chance to unfold. Former Cowboys’ defensive end Benson Mayowa picked up a Prescott fumble and ran it to the Dallas five-yard line. The mishap led to a Seahawks touchdown of which any of them proved the difference-maker.
The third turnover came on the game’s final drive in an act of desperation. At the Seattle 26-yard line, needing a TD for a chance to tie the game, Prescott escaped a would-be sack only to heave the ball into the end zone with just 14 seconds remaining for the game-sealing interception.
What could have been a magical play if it had come down in the hands of a Dallas receiver turned into one that Prescott would certainly love another shot at, but Dallas was at the point where they needed to take a shot in the end zone.
Prescott was pressured on 22.5% of his dropbacks against the Seahawks according to Pro Football Focus. On those plays, he went 5 for 11 for 41 yards and the three turnovers. While he had a decent passer rating of 93.6 for the day, he had a passer rating of just 15.9 when Seattle brought pressure.
It’s true that Prescott needs to find a better way to deal with the disruption. But it’s also true that it is really hard to gauge how well this team can play while they are missing their starting right tackle, their backup right tackle, their All-Pro left tackle, and basically their All-Pro right guard as Zack Martin was forced to kick out to tackle in the second half.
Besides pointing the finger at Prescott, special teams was a bigger issue in this game and is frankly one of the biggest issues that continually faces the team. The Cowboys missed two extra points and a muffed kickoff return by Tony Pollard set Dallas up inside their own one-yard line resulting in a safety.
Those miscues equate to four points just handed away by new special teams coordinator John Fassel’s unit. Those four points could have been the difference between going for a FG to tie the game or Prescott being forced to loft a prayer into the end zone with time expiring.
Dallas was poor defensively, as well. It was always going to be an uphill battle against Willson and the Seahawks in Seattle with the team thin at linebacker and in the secondary. On four of Wilson's five touchdown passes, there wasn't a defender anywhere near the intended receiver.
Had it not been for a hustle play by rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs, Wilson could have had a sixth touchdown but the play was only made after Diggs had been beaten badly on the pass attempt. Dallas has to resolve the exorbitant amount of blow coverages in the secondary. On the eventual game-winning Seattle touchdown, safety Darian Thompson was late getting over to Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf. The play gave Seattle the lead with under two minutes left on the clock and once again forced the spotlight back on Prescott.
If the Cowboys aren't able to get consistent pressure, and they can't cover, Dak Prescott is going to have to be perfect for this team to win some football games. While he was good on Sunday, he wasn’t perfect. The issues were just too much for this offense to overcome, especially with the patched-together offensive line.
There was plenty of blame to go around but the defense and special teams carry the brunt of the Week 3 loss.
What do you think is the primary reason that the Cowboys lost on Sunday? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @PatSportsGuy.