FRISCO, Texas – It’s going to be lost in the shuffle of another bonkers Cowboys game, but it was a small sign of maturity from a rookie in a trying situation.
There’s no way to say it nicely. Trevon Diggs was beaten off the line by D.K. Metcalf for a 62-yard gain in the dying moments of the first quarter on Sunday. Metcalf was several steps behind his coverage and started coasting toward the end zone for a score that would’ve given Seattle a 16-9 lead.
Except it never happened. Because while Metcalf was coasting, Diggs was hustling. And the hustle paid off. Right before the Seahawks’ massive receiver crossed the goal line, Diggs punched the ball away for a momentum-swinging touchback.
“Always finish, until the referee has his hands up and you hear that whistle blow,” Diggs said. “That was a hustle play. He had beat me – but it was just not giving up.”
Unfortunately, that’s where the feel-good part of the story ends.
Diggs’ big play would likely be remembered differently in a Dallas win. But in the wake of a 38-31 thriller of a loss, it’s hard to overstate how much work the Cowboys’ secondary needs to do.
“It was really on us, honestly — just miscommunication,” Diggs said. “There are things we’ve got to correct in practice and things like that. We’re going to get it right. It’s just communication. That’s it. That’s literally it.”
Miscommunication does help explain why the Cowboys seemed to be so far out of position.
It wasn’t just that Russell Wilson completed 68% of his passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns. To some degree, that’s expected when a banged up secondary is going against an NFL MVP front runner.
At the same time, it was the manner in which it happened. Metcalf dusted the Dallas secondary again later in the game for the touchdown that would ultimately win the game.
Even more alarming than that were a trio of touchdowns from Tyler Lockett, two of which were completely unguarded – one of which was a 43-yard bomb that saw him quite literally sneak behind the entire defense.
“That’s what Monday’s are for. We’ll take a hard look at it,” said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy.
Diggs added: “Most of the plays that we gave them was because of us. We’ve got to fix that, and if we fix that the score may be different.”
To give the Cowboys some credit, there were moments.
The Seahawks only managed 55 second-half yards prior to their game-winning possession. Even with his earlier struggles, Diggs seemed to settle into more of a groove
Despite Wilson’s ability to extend plays, the back seven was capable of limiting his throwing windows for large portions of the second half.
“He scrambles to pass, and that’s tough on the receivers that we’ve got to plaster as DB’s and tough on linebackers,” said Xavier Woods. “Sometimes guys are going to get open. Once he gets flushed, that’s backyard football.”
Obviously, Wilson found a way to get it done when the game was up for grabs. Two plays before he found Metcalf for the game-winner, he bought time and managed to find Greg Olsen on a 4th-and-11 to keep the Seahawks’ hopes alive.
“They made more keys plays than we did,” McCarthy said. “I think when you look at the numbers, I haven’t seen them yet, we had a lot of production, but the key plays to the game, you’ve got to give those guys credit.”
Wilson and the Seahawks deserve plenty of credit, to be sure. But NFL opponents are good at scouting weaknesses. And with Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown on injured reserve for at least a few more weeks, the Cowboys’ secondary will likely be a common target.
Nobody said it would be easy, but it’s arguably the top priority to correct moving forward – and it needs to happen quickly.
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