Marshawn Lynch, idled for much of the game and removed from it late, glared on his way off the field. Then he bit down on the back edging of his helmet like it was a pacifier, as if to quiet inner rage.
Jermaine Kearse sighed. He held his dropped head in the palm of his hand at his locker, one of the two mitts that were reaching in vain for Russell Wilson’s final, futile pass. The throw on that fourth down moments earlier went like most of the Seahawks’ afternoon.
Off skidding. And so incomplete.
Next to Kearse, fellow wide receiver Doug Baldwin didn’t sigh. He steamed.
“We’ve got to quit BS-ing ourselves. We’ve got to be real with ourselves,” Baldwin said. “When we get in the meeting room we’ve got to actually pay attention to things that aren’t going right, pay attention to things that we’re not doing right. And correct them. And not just blow smoke up our tails that everything’s going to be all right just because we won the last game. Doesn’t happen that way.
“We need to take responsibility for the problems that we have in this offense. We don’t do that if we keep listening to what the pundits say, talking about this and that and all the positive things. If we do that and not actually look at the negative things, then it’s not going to matter.”
It may not have mattered Sunday. Because this time, even Russell Wilson couldn’t save the Seahawks. Dallas’ offense thoroughly controlling Seattle’s battered defense ensured that.
NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray, held to 64 yards through 3½ quarters, romped when it mattered most. His go-ahead touchdown run with 3:16 left — then two uncharacteristically off throws by Wilson on third and fourth downs, plus an interception to end his uncharacteristically off day — ensured the Seahawks lost for just the second time in 21 home games, 30-23 to the riled-up Cowboys Sunday afternoon at stunned CenturyLink Field.
The game wouldn’t have been that close without two special-teams plays. Baldwin blocked a punt that linebacker Mike Morgan scooped up for a touchdown to put the Seahawks (3-2) up 10-0 early. And Dallas (5-1) muffed a punt return deep in their own end to set up Wilson’s 9-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 17 in the third quarter.
“I mean, it’s all over the board,” Baldwin said. “We’ve got to get better.”
Dallas and Murray, who finished with 115 yards on 29 carries to tie Jim Brown’s 56-year-old NFL record with his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game to begin a season, kept the Seahawks’ offense on the sideline for much of the game. The Cowboys had a 23-9 edge on first downs, a 401-206 bulge in total yardage and converted 10 of their first 16 third downs.
That’s why Lynch had just two carries among Seattle’s mere 17 plays of the first half.
But Baldwin (two catches in three targets for 32 yards) was in no mood to hide behind the fact Seattle had just 22 minutes of ball possession, to Dallas’ 38.
“Nah, (forget) that. Man, we had plenty of time,” Baldwin said of 48 offensive plays, eight more than the season-low 40 the Seahawks ran last month in the 30-21 loss at San Diego. “We had plenty of time to make (good) plays on the field. Plenty of time.”
At one point during the second half he was in Wilson’s face on the sideline, growling and pointing fingers at his quarterback.
It looked, well, like a team that is not used to losing, in fact losing for just the sixth time in 31 games.
“What do you think, man. We’re frustrated,” Baldwin spat out. “The offensive can’t move the ball. We’ve got too much talent over here to not be moving the ball.
“I’m not mad at Russell, at all. It’s a collaborative thing. We’ve all got to do our part.”
So heroic in the previous game at Washington and throughout the early season, Wilson was just harried Sunday. He was 14 for 28 passing for 126 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He carried twice for 12 yards — 110 fewer than he romped for to set a Seahawks quarterback record six days earlier.
Wilson got sacked twice and against scrambled to avoid many more hits. Seattle’s problems of pass protection continued, with Stephen Schilling making his first career start at center while two-time Pro Bowl selection Max Unger sat out with a sprained foot.
Wilson’s 47.6 passer rating was the third-lowest of his career, and lowest since his rookie season of 2012. He had a 38.7 rating on Oct. 18, 2012, in a loss at San Francisco.
“I could have played a lot better,” Wilson said.
“For whatever reason we were just off by a little bit. I’ll take the blame for it. … I felt like I let some people down or whatever, so you just have to keep moving, keep moving forward.”
His completion percentage entering Sunday was 70.3. That was almost 7 percent higher than his completion rate over his first two seasons before this one.
The last time he had a completion rate lower than his 50 percent on Sunday was also Seattle’s last home loss before this one. Last Dec. 22 he was 12 for 22 against Arizona.
“I just thought it was a really good day for their guys … but, I think, all in all, when he throws for 120 yards and he’s 50 percent, then that’s not a good day for him,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And he’s better than that.”
The Seahawks used advantageous field position on an exchange of punts early in the fourth quarter to get Steven Hauschka’s third field goal of the game, from 48 yards. That put Seattle ahead, 23-20, with 8:21 left.
But on third-and-20 following a Dallas holding penalty, quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Terrance Williams made the play of the game. Romo twice escaped Seahawks rush end Bruce Irvin, the second time as the prone Irvin swiped at Romo’s ankle. Then Romo fired a strike that Williams caught while getting the toes of both feet inside the right sideline boundary. That gave Dallas a first down at the Seattle 47 with 4:45 left.
Murray then broke free up the middle for 25 yards. After a timeout, Murray ran 15 yards to put the Cowboys ahead, 27-23, with 3:16 remaining.
CenturyLink Field was stunned. But the Seahawks had what Carroll always wants: the ball in Wilson’s hands with the game on the line.
On third-and-6 from the Seattle 23 with 2:44 left, Wilson threw wide by a good five yards to covered tight end Luke Willson in the right flat. The Seahawks burned their last timeout and had to go for it on fourth-and-6. Wilson threw to Kearse on a deep out route, but the ball sailed about eight yards short and wide of him and skidded into the shocked Seahawks standing along the sideline.
Such was the deflating, defeating effect of Dallas using its road-grading offensive line — stocked with three No. 1 draft choices — to control the game. The Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points in the first half while converting eight of their first 10 third downs.
Seattle is back to one game behind first-place Arizona (5-1), which beat Washington. The Seahawks play at NFC West-rival St. Louis (1-3) next Sunday.
Oh, yes, they have plenty to chew on until then.
“We got beat, straight up. We will fix it,” Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said. “I take full ownership of just not stopping it.
“But we’ll fix it.”