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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

September 17, 2012 at 5:57 AM

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Pete Carroll's Seahawks more than measure up against the Dallas Cowboys

Seahawks look impressive, win home-opener 27-7
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times

The Cowboys weren't just an opponent for Seattle on Sunday, they were a benchmark.

This is the team -- perhaps more than any other -- that demonstrated Seattle's precipitous decline after four consecutive NFC West championships.

The Cowboys routed the Seahawks in Dallas in consecutive years, underscoring just how much Seattle's roster eroded by the end of Tim Ruskell's five years as president.

The Seahawks weren't just beaten by Dallas, they were beaten up. Seattle's loss in Dallas on Thanksgiving served as an epitaph for Mike Holmgren's final season as coach. It was the last game Walter Jones played in as a Seahawk, the final game Matt Hasselbeck played in that season and it underscored just how undersized and overmatched the Seahawks were.

Seattle trailed 14-0 before it scored a point, never did find the end zone and gave up seven sacks in that game while recording none. Appearing in a nationally televised game, the Seahawks were entirely uncompetitive.

Any thoughts that season was an injury-induced aberration evaporated the next year when Jim Mora was handed a roster that was every bit as inadequate. Seattle's 21-point loss at Dallas on Nov. 1 was the first of four road losses of 20 points or more that year in a tailspin that ended up precipitating wholesale change atop the franchise.

It would be foolish to look at Sunday's game and announced that Seattle has arrived as a bona fide contender. The Seahawks won a game in which Dallas turned the ball over three times in the first 9 minutes and also had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown.

But the Seahawks weren't handed anything in the second half on Sunday. They strong-armed the Cowboys, rushing for 149 yards on offense and allowed 8 yards rushing on defense. It was truly impressive, and underscored the transformation of this team's roster.

Seattle is bigger than it was, and it is built to win wars of attrition. The Seahawks are not going to be bullied by a team like Dallas like they were in the final two years of Ruskell's regime as president.

The other thing that was most remarkable is that this game was really a continuation of the second-half improvement Seattle demonstrated last season, a trend which really began in the second half of its Week 9 game against Dallas.

What I found most striking looking back at the scoresheet from that game is just how similar Seattle's second-half performance was on Sunday compared to last year's game, which Seattle lost 23-13.

So why did Seattle win by 20 this year when it lost by 10 a year ago? Turnovers. Tarvaris Jackson was picked off three times last year in Dallas, all in the second half.

Has Seattle arrived? That must wait to be seen, but Seattle's victory on Sunday certainly counted as significant progress against an opponent that not too recently was demonstrating how far the Seahawks had fallen.

 1st half2nd half1st half2nd half
Rush yards758733149
Pass yards591608548
First downs711515
Time of poss.13:4916:4413:4220:57
Rush yds. allowed9865418
Pass yds. allowed2067317077
Points allowed61770
First downs allowed108116

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