Cowboys 27, Seahawks 26: Top 10 Whitty Observations; Four Interceptions, Winning Preseason – Sports Illustrated

If not for some individual heroics by unsung heroes, we'd be lamenting another 10 penalties by the Dallas Cowboys.
Instead – thanks to backup quarterback Will Grier, helmet-losing tight end Peyton Hendershot and four interceptions by their secondary – the Cowboys put the dramatic finishing touches on a winning preseason Friday night at AT&T Stadium.
10. OL OPTION – In a lineup we are almost guaranteed not to see come Sept. 11 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys offensive line put a spotlight on Josh Ball at left tackle and on Connor McGovern at center. Dallas was obviously moving pieces around as a contingency plan as it scrambles to replace perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. 
Also potentially in the plan to fill the void left by Smith – who tore his hamstring during Wednesday's practice – is signing a veteran lineman or perhaps trading for one. First-round draft pick Tyler Smith, who was at times dominant last week in Los Angeles, also sat out with an injured ankle. 
Said Cowboys Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin of the 31-year-old Tyron's prolonged absence, "Nobody thought they'd get 17 games out of Tyron. But to have it happen at this time – so close to the curtain going up – is devastating. That's it. That's the big injury. Can't afford any more with this team." 
The "starting" offensive line against Seattle surrendered two first-half sacks and constant pressure on quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Will Grier. 
Said McGovern of the unique lineup, "Versatility speaks a lot. This preseason, I played all five positions. I played fullback. It goes back to last year, I played eight positions. It feels good to go wherever you’re needed."
Also worth noting: rookie Matt Waletzko plated despite a shoulder problem that, like a minute ago, we all thought might be season-ending.
9. SENTIMENTAL FOR SEATTLE? – Last time the Seahawks visited AT&T Stadium was the last time the Cowboys won a playoff game. Dallas beat Seattle, 24-22, in a Wild Card game on Jan. 5, 2019. It remains the team's only postseason victory in the last seven years and the only one of quarterback Dak Prescott's career. Prescott, of course, didn't play in this one. Nor did the Seahawks' quarterback in 2019 – Russell Wilson – because he's now a Denver Bronco.
8. 'TIS BETTER TO RECEIVE – This NFL season Patrick Mahomes will be without Tyreek Hill, Aaron Rodgers will be without Davante Adams and Prescott will be without Amari Cooper. No problem, at least according to the man who signs Prescott's checks. "I like these receivers," owner Jerry Jones said before kickoff. "I like the group. I've been impressed with their consistency running routes. Dak's one of the best I've ever seen at throwing it to the right guy, so those receivers being in the right place important." Receiver Simi Fehoko may have run a precise route, but he dropped a well-thrown, fourth-down pass from Rush to end Dallas' opening drive.
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7. RIVALRY RENEWED – Rookie defensive end Sam Williams finally did on an NFL field what he consistently did in college – sack the quarterback. Williams, Dallas' second-round pick last April, beat Seattle's first-round selection (Charles Cross) for a first-quarter sack of Seattle quarterback Geno Smith. With Williams having played at Ole Miss and Cross at Mississippi State, those two have battled before on stages bigger than an NFL preseason game. Williams was also called for a personal foul in the second half for clubbing Lock in the facemask on an incompletion.
6. SCORING SIMI – Fehoko recovered from his early drop to catch a 1-yard touchdown just before halftime. The fifth-round pick in 2021 has had a more productive preseason than this year's third-rounder, Jalen Tolbert. Fehoko finished with five catches and two touchdowns, tied for the preseason team lead with kick-returner KaVontae Turpin. Did Fehoko do enough to keep a roster spot or are the Cowboys pursuing a trade?
5. TREVON DIGGS 2.0? – Not just yet. Two interceptions in two weeks won't make Israel Mukuamu Trevon Diggs. But will allow him to make the final roster, and perhaps make a push for regular-season playing time.
One piece of bad news here: Mukuamu will undergo an MRI on Saturday after having aggravated a groin injury.
4. DAK YOU VERY MUCH – Prescott didn't throw a pass this preseason, but he did pick up an award. In an on-field presentation before kickoff the Cowboys' quarterback was presented with the team's 2021 Ed Block Courage award, given to the player "who has overcome unconventional odds due to injury or other circumstances." Prescott, of course, played in all but one game last season after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in October 2020. Prescott threw a franchise-record 37 touchdowns in leading a Dallas offense that led the NFL in yards and points.
3. RETURN TO REALITY – After watching Turpin's two electrifying kick returns for touchdowns last week, things were much more boring against Seattle. With Turpin not risking his health on special teams, the Cowboys had undrafted rookies Dontario Drummond returning punts and Juanyeh Thomas running back kickoffs. The result: Only a combined 35 yards, all on a Thomas effort in the second quarter.
2. NO. 1 AT NO. 2? – Let's face it, neither Rush nor Grier exactly grabbed the job backing up Prescott and won it. Both quarterbacks were skittish in the pocket, late with their reads and behind receivers on several of their throws. Rush played one series that stalled on the Fehoko drop. Grier scrambled for 22 yards while engineering a scoring drive late in the first half with an easy touchdown toss to Fehoko and made a nice throw for a score to a toe-tapping Brandon Smith to tie the game at 20-20 late in the third quarter. He finished 12 of 22 for only 88 yards. 
Bottom line: Rush has the experience of an NFL win, but Grier is clearly the more athletic quarterback able to make plays with his legs. If this was a boxing match, it'd likely be a split decision.
1. "WINNING" – Cowboys finished 2-1, with a winning record for the first time in preseason since 2017. That year, however, they parlayed that early success into a non-playoff, 9-7 regular season.
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Richie has been a multi-media fixture in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex since graduating from UT-Arlington in 1986, with his career highlighted by successful stints in print (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), TV (NBC5) and radio (105.3 The Fan). During his 35-year tenure, he’s blabbed and blogged on events ranging from Super Bowls to NBA Finals to World Series to Stanley Cups to Olympics to Wimbeldons to World Cups. Whitt has been covering the NFL from every angle since 1989. Twitter: @RichieWhitt

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