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2023 NFL season, Week 13: What We Learned from Cowboys' win over Seahawks on Thursday night

Dallas Cowboys
2023 · 9-3-0
Seattle Seahawks
2023 · 6-6-0


  1. Dallas defense gives up 35 points at home, but three late fourth-down stops seal it. The Cowboys were absolutely begging for a big defensive play when Demarcus Lawrence stopped Zach Charbonnet on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 46-yard line with just over seven minutes left. The Seahawks led, 35-30, at that point, but the Cowboys took the lead, 38-35. Geno Smith moved the ball to midfield, but he missed on three straight passes, including rushing a pass on a fourth-down blitz from the Cowboys. Dallas settled for a field goal on the ensuing drive, keeping the door ajar. But Smith again misfired on three straight passes, with Micah Parsons pressuring Smith on the game-clinching fourth-down incompletion. The Cowboys allowed a struggling Seahawks offense to ring up 406 yards of offense and five touchdowns, aiding Seattle with several big penalties. But the Cowboys’ three fourth-down stops, plus an interception in the third quarter, were just enough to hold on in a thriller.
  2. Geno Smith couldn’t lead a second two-minute miracle. Smith was having a great first half, far better than he did on Thanksgiving, when he got the ball down, 20-14, with 90 seconds left until halftime. With no timeouts, Smith got the Seahawks rolling and stole some yards from a napping -- and penalty-prone -- Cowboys defense. It was clear Pete Carroll had confidence in Smith by saving time on the previous drive and in green-lighting the all-go drive. They passed up thoughts of a field goal (after Jason Myers missed earlier) and went all out for the end zone three times with less than 20 seconds left, with Smith hitting DK Metcalf for the go-ahead TD before half. But Smith’s fortune wasn’t as good in the same situation -- down six, no timeouts, less than two minutes left -- at the end of the game. After good drive starters to Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant for a combined 25 yards, Smith threw incomplete on his final three passes. It was a big night from Smith, as he threw for 334 yards and three scores, also rushing for a touchdown. It was also the Seahawks’ best offensive game in forever. But Smith was only 7 of 16 passing in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys’ pass rush finally heated up.
  3. DK Metcalf, CeeDee Lamb put on showcase performance. No offense to the other fine playmakers on the field Thursday night, but two of the NFL’s very best receivers put on a clinic -- and appeared to be dueling in a friendly game of one-upmanship. Metcalf entered the game with only three touchdowns, joking this week that the Cowboys’ DaRon Bland (more on him later) had more touchdowns coming in than he did. That aged well. Metcalf took the air out of the building with his 73-yard TD on the Seahawks’ third play of the game, and he did it again right before halftime. Metcalf’s third touchdown increased Seattle’s fourth-quarter lead from one point to eight, as he did all he could -- on only six catches and eight targets -- in a 134-yard performance. Lamb struck back after Metcalf’s first TD with a pretty 15-yard scoring grab of his own. He wouldn’t get back in the end zone, but Lamb was a huge part of four Dallas second-half scoring drives, finishing with 12 catches for 116 yards and two runs for 30 yards, including a huge 24-yarder in the fourth. Time and time again when Geno Smith and Dak Prescott needed a big play, they dialed in on Metcalf and Lamb, who also drew several defensive flags between them.
  4. DaRon Bland adds another pick to his total, but he was picked on often. Bland, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month, set the league’s all-time pick-six mark (five) last week on Thanksgiving. This Thursday, he had a nightmarish game, seemingly targeted by the Seahawks from their very first pass of the game. Metcalf beat him (and Donovan Wilson) on the 73-yard TD, plus for two more scores on the night. Next Gen Stats credited Bland with 10 receptions allowed for 141 yards in the game, and he was flagged on a critical defensive pass interference in the end zone that led to a Seattle touchdown before the half. At one point, the Cowboys put Stephon Gilmore on Metcalf. Bland struck back with a nice undercut of Geno Smith’s throw in the third quarter, preventing the Seahawks from taking a two-score lead and allowing Dallas to cut the deficit to one point. But it was a humbling night on the whole for a player who has played a very big role in Dallas’ success this season. Guess what? Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are pretty good in their own right.
  5. Penalties marred a very entertaining game. There was a lot on the line Thursday in terms of playoff implications, and it showed in an intense and entertaining game that had five lead changes and went right down to the wire. But both teams were incredibly sloppy, committing a combined 19 penalties for 259 yards. Seattle had 10 for 130. Dallas had nine for 127 -- with seven for 107 in the second quarter alone. It would be a tough case to say that one team made out far better on the flags, but both teams came out looking undisciplined, even if a few calls might have been borderline. Seattle’s Tariq Woolen was flagged three times for 87 yards. Dallas’ Terence Steele had a hold that wiped out a TD. DaRon Bland’s DPI in the end zone led to a Seahawks TD. There was a delay of game called before Jason Myers’ missed field goal. Tyler Smith was flagged twice in the red zone. Both teams were jumping offsides and getting handsy downfield. It was fun but messy football.

Next Gen stat of the game: DK Metcalf reached a top speed of 22.23 mph on his 73-yard TD reception, the fastest speed by a ball carrier since Week 2, 2020 (Raheem Mostert, 23.09 mph).


NFL Research: Thursday was just the fifth game in NFL history with zero combined punts. The other four: Eagles-Chiefs 2021, Saints-Packers 2014, Bears-Packers 2014 and Bills-49ers 1992.

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