Grey Area: Challenge for Seahawks is singular with Cowboys’ run game

Oct 10, 2014, 4:31 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2014, 11:39 am
DeMarco Murray, the league's leading rusher this season, will meet the Seahawks' top-rated run defense in Sunday's game in Seattle. (AP)
(AP)

Challenge and opportunity: That is how I would describe Sunday’s game for the Seahawks when the Cowboys come to town.

The challenge is singular.

The Seahawks must find a way to stop DeMarco Murray, the league’s leading rusher and owner of the NFL’s highest yardage total and attempt numbers. In every measurable way Dallas’ offense runs through its running back. Five games into the season he has been extremely good with an extremely heavy workload. Murray had 130 carries – 43 more attempts than the next running back in that category – and even with all those totes he has managed a 5.2 yards-per-carry average, with five carries going over 20 yards, five touchdowns and 37 first downs. The bottom line is that he’s easily the game’s most productive running back so far in 2014 and will be the focal point of the Cowboys’ attack as they attempt the daunting task of winning in front of the 12s at CenturyLink Field.

The good news for the Seahawks is that they boast the NFL’s best rush defense through four games and are coming off of an impressive performance against Alfred Morris and a very good running attack in Washington. Better still, the Seahawks will have the greatest home-field advantage in the country with the the 12th Man at their backs.

With Murray and the Cowboys’ run game, the challenge for Seattle is clear. The opportunities are plenty.

After addressing the Cowboys’ rush attack and containing Murray, the Seahawks can take to the task of disrupting a far less effective Cowboys passing attack. Dallas’ pass game is ranked 13th in the league, averaging just 238 yards per game while giving up five interceptions and nine sacks. This is an excellent opportunity for the Seahawks to dial up some pass rush and allow the Legion of Boom to pad its interception stats. In short, force Tony Romo to do some of those Tony Romo things Dallas fans have come to know and loathe.

Perhaps even bigger opportunities await Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense.

Defensively the Cowboys are ranked 21st in yards allowed per game (369.8), 18th in pass yards allowed per game (247.8) and 20th in rush yards allowed per game (122.0) – so they don’t stop anything well. Match that pass defense up against Wilson, who is playing the best football of his entire career, and it could be a long day for that Dallas D.

Wilson has a higher completion percentage (70.3) and passer rating (112.9) than either of his first two season totals, and Percy Harvin has flashed the kind of playmaking that this offense just didn’t have in any of Wilson’s previous seasons. Add to that the Seahawks’ bread-and-butter run game (including another dose of Wilson) that just happens to be tops in the NFL at 167.3 yards per game and we all could see some real fireworks.

Finally there is the opportunity for football fans all over Seattle to finally settle into a groove with this young Seahawks season. With two prime-time games, two road games and a bye week, it has been a disjointed start to the year to say the least. Just having a 1 p.m. kickoff in SoDo and a chance to watch the Seahawks at home on a Sunday afternoon is something we can all look forward to.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and if you’d like to join the conversation, please follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.

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Grey Area: Challenge for Seahawks is singular with Cowboys’ run game