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Originally published November 1, 2009 at 5:42 PM | Page modified November 1, 2009 at 7:46 PM

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Marcus Trufant's performance falls short in his return to the field

Cornerback, playing in his first game this season after suffering a disk injury, gets called for three penalties that lead to three Cowboys touchdowns

Seattle Times staff reporter

ARLINGTON, Texas — As a cornerback, Marcus Trufant begins every play by backpedaling.

After Sunday's game, however, he stood up in the locker room and offered a sugar-free assessment in his first game back from a disk injury.

"Not the way I wanted it to go," Trufant said. "Team-wise, individual-wise."

Seattle's former Pro Bowl cornerback was penalized three times for pass interference for a total of 38 yards and — more importantly — three Dallas first downs, but he didn't bite at an offer to question the legitimacy of those penalties.

"Some calls are 50-50," Trufant said. "I'm not going to complain about anything. I'm a professional, so I've got to play through it, and that's what I did."

This was supposed to be the game Seattle started to get healthy. Leroy Hill returned from a groin injury and started at outside linebacker. Trufant didn't start at left cornerback, Josh Wilson did, but Trufant played extensively especially after starting corner Ken Lucas suffered what was described as a shoulder stinger in the third quarter and didn't return.

That left Trufant on the field quite a bit for someone who's only been practicing with the team for two weeks now.

"His legs got a little heavy like I thought they would, seeing his first live-action," coach Jim Mora said.

While Trufant conceded that his legs did get tired, he said that wasn't the reason.

"I still had enough juice," Trufant said. "I just needed to play better, to make more plays."

Each of the three pass-interference penalties against Trufant sustained a Dallas drive that resulted in a touchdown. The first two were the most costly. Both came in the second quarter. Each was called on third down while Trufant was defending Miles Austin.

The first time, he bumped Austin off a crossing route on third-and-8. Dallas got the ball at the Seattle 2 and scored its second touchdown the very next play.

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On the second penalty, Trufant failed to get out of Austin's way on a double move on third-and-9. The 20-yard penalty gave Dallas the ball at the Seattle 23.

"The ref makes the call," Trufant said. "That's what you've got to live with."

It was the third penalty committed by Seattle on that drive, two of which resulted in first downs. The drive concluded with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams with 35 seconds left, Dallas led 21-10 at halftime.

The third pass-interference penalty came in the end zone in the third quarter, and it was the most questionable. Williams bumped into Trufant, but the ball did not appear catchable.

Two plays later, Trufant was defending Austin when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass, punctuating what was a memorable return for Trufant, just not for the reasons he had hoped.

"I could've played a lot better," Trufant said. "I strive for perfection, and I could've done more for my teammates."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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