In the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night they got a strong performance from the defense against an explosive offense. The Seattle Seahawks came into the game as the number one rushing attack on the season and running back Chris Carson was coming off being named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Month for the month of December. In a game where they got some really strong performances, the defensive line stood out.
DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods all stood tall on the against the vaunted Seahawks rushing attack and provided some excellent penetration on the night.
The Seattle Seahawks came into the game averaging an NFL leading 160 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. The Dallas Cowboys led by their defensive front held them to 73 yards on 24 carries or 3.04 yards per carry. If you take away Rashad Penny’s long run for 28 yards, that’s 23 carries for 45 yards or 1.94 yards per carry. Russell Wilson also accounted for 14 yards and the lone touchdown for the Seahawks rushing attack.
The Hot Boyz were downright dominant on Saturday night helping the Dallas Cowboys extend their season.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been one of the best EDGE players in the NFL all season, though he wasn’t rewarded for it, but he came up big again with two tackles for loss and six total tackles. Pro Football Focus credited Lawrence with a quarterback hit and a hurry as well as four “stops” or plays that were deemed unsuccessful for the offense.
On the other EDGE, Randy Gregory continued his excellent play leading the Cowboys in total pressures with three (a quarterback hit and two hurries). He was close to getting a sack several times and had a tackle for loss on a sweep to Penny that looked like it could go for a positive gain. Instead, he burst up field on the toss and caught Penny for a big loss. Gregory had two stops on the game.
For the game, Collins finished with four tackles and the Cowboys lone sack on the night. He provided another pressure, which forced Russell Wilson to abandon the pocket and forced a hurried throw on the run. The play ended with Jaylon Smith batting the ball down. Collins finished with three stops on the night..
Antwaun Woods also had three stops on the night, including a huge play as the Seattle Seahawks were attempting to set up a screen pass. He saw the offensive lineman give him a free run into the backfield and read the play beautifully and got to the running back just as he was turning with the ball. Woods has been a revelation along the defensive line this season and has provided something that the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had in a very long time; a penetrating 1-technique defensive tackle or nose tackle.
Tyrone Crawford recorded a pressure, three tackles, and a stop on the night, but more important than that was his presence. He’s a leader along the defensive line and you can’t understate how important it was for the rest of those guys to see Crawford lining up to play just two weeks after suffering what looked to be a career ending injury when he went down in a heap vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having your leader back in the lineup after a scare like that is huge for the morale of the unit. And not only did he play, but he had the second highest snap totals among the defensive lineman.
One of the things that won’t show up in the stat book was the many uncalled holds that occurred against the defensive line on Saturday night. On the big 4th and 6 play from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin along the sideline, there very easily could have been a holding call on the left tackle. It was as egregious of a non-call as you’ll see in an NFL game and it could have turned the tide in the game. Gregory wasn’t the only one either. DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, and Antwaun Woods all put the offensive line in bad enough positions that they were holding, they just couldn’t get the refs to throw a flag. We should get used to it by now. The NFL Officials aren’t going to call holding penalties against the Cowboys offensive line opponents.
I think it’s time to give up thinking that the line play is going to get called fairly.
As it will be every week from here on out, the Dallas Cowboys front will have another huge test this week against the Los Angeles Rams who feature Todd Gurley and a really good passing attack. They’ll need to bring it once again to help the Dallas Cowboys advance to the NFC Championship.
And knowing what we know about this group of players, they’re going to bring it on Saturday Night in The Coliseum.