The Seahawks lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs for the first time under head coach Pete Carroll, falling 24-22 to the Cowboys to end Seattle’s 2018 season.
The Seahawks found some big plays in the passing game, but on a day where the Cowboys made it difficult on Seattle’s running game, the Seahawks weren’t able to come up with enough offense to keep pace with the Cowboys.
Here are five rapid reactions to Seattle’s season-ending loss at Dallas:
1. It was a very challenging day for Seattle’s running game.
The Seahawks came into the game with the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense, but knew it could be challenging going against a tough Dallas defense. And sure enough, the Cowboys made things very difficult on Chris Carson and company, holding Seattle to just 73 yards on 24 carries. Carson, who went over 100 yards in three straight games to close the regular season, was held to 20 yards on 13 carries Saturday.
With the running game struggling, the Seahawks found themselves in a number of third-and-long situations, contributing to a 2 for 13 night on third down.
2. Tyler Lockett just keeps making plays.
Tyler Lockett had the best season of his career in 2018, establishing new career highs in catches, touchdowns and receiving yards, and he carried that level of play into the postseason. The Seahawks struggled to get going on offense in the first half, but it was a big throw to Lockett that set up Seattle’s first score of the game. After Russell Wilson hit Ed Dickson for a 26-yard gain to give the Seahawks their first first down of the game, he then hit Lockett for 40 yards, a play that eventually led to a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
On Seattle’s next possession, Wilson hit Lockett for a 25-yard gain, again moving the Seahawks into field-goal range. Lockett also had a 52-yard kick return late in the first half to give the Seahawks a shot at a long field goal, but Janikowski missed from 57 yards while also sustaining a thigh injury that knocked him out of the game. Lockett added a 53-yard catch late in the game when the Seahawks needed to try to score quickly down 10 points in the final two minutes. That set up a Wilson touchdown pass to J.D. McKissic, but the Seahawks could not recover the onside Michael Dickson drop kick, allowing Dallas to run out the clock for the win.
Lockett finished the game with four catches for 120 yards.
3. “K.J. Back.”
While K.J. Wright returned from a knee injury in Week 16, it took him a couple of weeks to feel like he was really back, and after last week’s game, he said on a couple of occasions, “K.J. back,” a phrase that was repeated a few times during the week by his teammates and by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
An in just his sixth game of the season, Wright looked the best he has in quite a while. Wright recorded nine tackles, one for a loss, and had an impressive juggling fourth-quarter interception in the end zone that at the time kept the Seahawks within a field goal.
4. Late-game penalties were a big problem.
The Seahawks committed only one penalty in last week’s win over Arizona, and through three quarters they again avoided penalty problems, recording just one. But in some big situations in the fourth quarter, penalties became a problem for Seattle. After Wright’s interception gave the Seahawks the ball back down three points, the offense went backwards thanks to a holding penalty and a personal foul for an after-the-whistle hit. Those penalties led to a quick three-and-out, then on Dallas’ game-clinching touchdown drive, the Seahawks were flagged twice for pass interference, one of them coming on a third down early in the drive.
5. Dallas’ playmakers came up big.
The Seahawks defense played well for much of the game to keep Seattle in the game on a day when its offense was struggling, but when Dallas needed big plays, they got them from its top offensive players, with receiver Amari Cooper, who was on the Raiders when Seattle hosted Dallas in Week 3, running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott coming through in the clutch.
Prescott’s overall numbers weren’t overly impressive, but he came up with some big throws, particularly to Cooper, who had seven catches for 106 yards, and Prescott also had a 16-yard run on third-and-14 late in the fourth quarter to set up his own touchdown run that gave the Cowboys a two-score lead. Elliott, meanwhile, rushed for 137 yards on 26 carries, including a 44-yard run late in the first half that helped set up a touchdown.