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Week 18 Game Recap: Seattle Seahawks 22, Dallas Cowboys 24


What you need to know

Seattle Seahawks

The Cowboys had a big answer to the Seahawks running game, and the Seahawks only answer to that was to keep pounding the ball, relentlessly, and ultimately, very, very unsuccessfully. Russell Wilson actually had quite a bit of success with the play action, notably to Tyler Lockett, who eclipsed 100 yards receiving. In the backfield, Chris Carson never got going, while Rashaad Penny had the longest run of the game, and J.D. McKissic scored a touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys survived a late comeback by Seattle to advance for a Rams matchup in the divisional round. Dak Prescott struggled for much of the game as a passer outside of routine throws, but was at his best as a runner and in the key moments to fuel the Dallas offense. Ezekiel Elliott yet again was the engine for the Cowboys with 30 touches. Amari Cooper logged an impact game, but he was visibility frustrated as Prescott routinely passes to the other side of the field despite single coverage for Cooper in key moments. While Cooper eclipsed 100 yards, a much bigger tally was possible.

Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 233 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 14 - 1
Wilson definitely had his moments, and brought the Seahawks to within a couple of points late in the game. But he was denied an opportunity to put together one final drive after the Seahawks attempted an onside kick with just over a minute left in the game. On a day that the running game failed him, Wilson made the most of his play action calls, going 9-for-10 on those plays alone. Early in the second quarter, going play action on 1st & 10, he found TE Ed Dickson for 26, and then Tyler Lockett for a 40 yard gain on a deep post pattern. In both cases, he found the receivers wide open and just feathered in the perfect throw with ease. He made a few excellent throws under immense pressure as well. The icing on the cake of his game (or, it would be, if they had won) is that Wilson found paydirt for the first time this season with a rushing play. Coming out of halftime with the score close, he played with the kind of urgency we typically don’t see until the two minute warning – and it worked. The stat line does not tell the whole story here. The coaching staff kept going back to the run, even though it wasn’t working – at all – which forced Wilson into long 3rd down passing situations again and again. Despite the uphill battle, Wilson eventually found a way to get to the Cowboys defense, and though he came up short in the end, no one will be pinning this loss on him.

RB Chris Carson, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 20 - 0, Rec: 2 - -1 - 0 (3 targets)
Carson could not recreate the success he had for most of the season, as he was stuffed on numerous occasions, and wasn’t able to help in the passing game (two receptions for negative yards, and one drop). His longest rush was for only five yards, and when Rashaad Penny subbed in briefly, he was faster to the hole each time, which translated into a big gain on one carry. On top of that, Mike Davis came in for most passing downs, and J.D. McKissic got a red zone TD reception. Late in the game, Carson converted a 2-point conversion, and that would be the highlight of his day. Despite his success this year, Carson may not be a lock as the starter next year.

RB Mike Davis, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (2 targets)
Davis once again had a forgettable day as the change of pace runner behind Chris Carson – who had an even worse average gain on the day. He did run in a 2-point conversion at the end of the 3rd quarter. Davis has shown a versatile skill set, but with limited opportunity, he has, predictably, turned in several underwhelming performances. With Rashaad Penny chomping at the bit to be the #1 back, don’t expect this to change next season.

RB Rashaad Penny, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 29 - 0
Penny surprised on his first carry, with a fast burst through the middle that led to a 29-yard gain. After that, he was stuffed for -7 yards (not his fault) and a couple of no gains. On those carries, however, he most definitely looked more dangerous than Chris Carson (who did not have a gain over five yards), hitting the hole faster, harder, and with more confidence. So it was surprising that the Seahawks did not work him into the game plan more.

WR Tyler Lockett, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 120 - 0 (6 targets)
Not counting Russell Wilson, Lockett was the Seahawks most dangerous weapon against the Cowboys. He beat them three times for big gains, and each time was wide open. He also added a big return that set up an end-of-half FG attempt (that unfortunately missed). His biggest catch was in the second half, a 53-yard gain inside the two minute warning. Even though the Dallas D HAD to know they were looking for a big play, somehow Lockett managed to not only get open, but got way ahead of his man. If not for a lone safety playing extra deep, there would have been nothing between him and the goal line.

WR Doug Baldwin, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (6 targets)
Baldwin had a poor overall game, mainly due to limited targets… which was due to a run heavy game plan, not any conspiracy to look away from him. In the first half, he missed a low throw, and had a chance on what could have been a 27-yard score, but couldn’t quite track the ball as it came to him in the end zone. He redeemed himself for that miss, when in the 3rd quarter he came up big on 4th down, making a simply amazing catch near the sideline to keep the drive going and set up the ensuing touchdown. It was as much of a clutch play as you’ll see in the playoffs. Baldwin has had an off year, as he started the season with an injury. Late in the season, we started to see the “real” Doug Baldwin, who makes that kind of clutch play look easy -- which will hopefully be the version of him that we get to when the next season starts.

TE Ed Dickson, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (5 targets)
Dickson had a pretty good day as an outlet receiver for Russell Wilson, and had five targets, which was second to both Lockett and Baldwin, who had six apiece. Dickson was especially successful early in the 2nd quarter, in which he got wide open on a play action call, for a big 26-yard gain. It may be a stretch to speculate on next year, but Dickson has shown excellent athleticism and hands since he’s been back from injury (he sat out until week 8). At present, he’s a desperation fantasy play and nothing more; but if the Seahawks were to utilize him a little more, he’s certainly proved himself capable of putting up serviceable numbers.


Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 33 - 226 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 29 - 1
While Dallas collected the playoff win, Prescott had a scattershot passing performance especially on intermediate and deeper throws. Prescott collected stats in the first half with routine underneath throws, but missed the big play opportunities, including a wild misfire on an end zone fade towards Michael Gallup and later towards Noah Brown, which was tipped and intercepted in scoring range. Despite the passing struggles on impact plays, Prescott’s rushing ability proved integral to Dallas’ success down the stretch. Prescott nearly scored on a red zone keeper (ruled down at the one-yard line) and converted a third-and-long, down to the goal line, in the closing minutes. Prescott later churned in on a goal line sneak to essentially ice the game.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 71 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 137 - 1, Rec: 4 - 32 - 0 (5 targets)
Elliott logged yet another monster workload after getting Week 17 off with Dallas locked into their playoff spot. Elliott saw 30 touches as the engine for Dallas’ offense, including 10 carries alone by the mid-second quarter. Elliott’s receiving involvement was mostly in the first half, including yards-after-catch to set up a field goal attempt on third-and-long. Elliott’s rushing performance was aided by a 41-yard jaunt to the perimeter as Seattle had no set edge and Elliott had easy access. Elliott’s best individual run of the game included delivering a strong stiff arm in the closing minutes and salt away additional time on the clock. Elliott converted on his lone possession and opportunity down at the goal line with a well-blocked short-range score.

WR Amari Cooper, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 106 - 0 (9 targets)
Cooper put his route running on display against Seattle in the wildcard win. Cooper came wide open on two occasions for additional yardage after the catch. Later, Cooper collected a low pass on a crossing route for more than 20 yards. Cooper was frustrated with his lack of targets, despite his big game, on a number of occasions as Dak Prescott looked towards other receivers when Cooper had single coverage and optimal matchups.

WR Cole Beasley, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)
Beasley had a muted performance against Seattle, converting three short receptions without fanfare. Beasley limped off in the opening minutes with an ankle injury, but returned for significant snaps over the rest of the game. Beasley also drew a defensive pass interference penalty beyond the box score in the closing minutes.

WR Michael Gallup, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 1 (6 targets)
Gallup had a muted stat line, but added illegal contact and pass interference penalties on the defense. Gallup converted a goal line fade for a touchdown, one of the rare quality throws by Dak Prescott in the game. Gallup had another scoring opportunity, but Prescott was wild on another end zone fade pass. Gallup was featured this week as a matchup Prescott looked to exploit, however, the pair could not get on the same page often.