Game Scout: Seahawks at Cowboys

Game Scout: Seahawks at Cowboys

The Cowboys' offense appears to have hit its stride with a healthy running game setting the table for QB Tony Romo, who has a new favorite target in WR Miles Austin. One of Seattle's few advantages is its pass rush (16 sacks) against Dallas' aging line.

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Seattle Seahawks (2-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
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GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/01/09
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Dick Stockton, Charles Davis)
SERIES: 12th regular-season meeting. Dallas holds a 7-4 advantage in the series, including a 34-9 setback to Dallas in last year's Thanksgiving Day game.

PREDICTION: Cowboys 31-17

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cowboys' offense appears to have hit its stride with a healthy running game setting the table for QB Tony Romo, who has a new favorite target in WR Miles Austin. One of Seattle's few advantages is its pass rush (16 sacks) against Dallas' aging line, but first the Seahawks must overcome playing without injured MLB Lofa Tatupu and snuff out the ground game. Seattle offensive coordinator Greg Knapp wants to improve his own running attack, but it's difficult with a patchwork line not run blocking or pass protecting well. QB Matt Hasselbeck will have to rely on short drops and ask his receivers to make plays after the catch.

FAST FACTS: The Seahawks expect Damion McIntosh to be their fourth different starter at left tackle in seven games. ... Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games.

PERSONNEL NEWS
Seahawks:
--QB Matt Hasselbeck, who missed two practices to rest sore ribs, was back in action on Thursday and said he's ready to play on Sunday.
--OT Sean Locklear (ankle) remains out this week against Dallas, but he did work on some stance and starts with trainers on the side of the field while the rest of his teammates practiced.
--DE Patrick Kerney was a full participant in practice and is expected to play on Sunday. Kerney has four sacks and shares the sack lead on the team with Lawrence Jackson.
--OG Rob Sims was a full participant in practice on Thursday and is expected to start for on Sunday, after missing the last two games against Jacksonville and Arizona with an ankle injury.

Cowboys:
--QB Tony Romo believes the Cowboys' offense can be something special. The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points four times and have a breakout player in WR Miles Austin.
"I think this offense is starting to play some pretty good football," Romo said. "I'm pretty excited about the path we've taken. I think we still have a long way to go. At the same point, I'm excited. I think you're seeing a little of it recently.
"We feel very confident we can do things that allow us to be a special unit or take that next step and be really elite. The only thing that really holds us back sometimes, we feel like, are the things we do ourselves. If we can take care of those, we feel we can do something special."
--RB Felix Jones will return kickoffs now that Allen Rossum is out two to four weeks with a torn hamstring.
"I guess it's my time to step up," Jones said. "Hopefully we don't have to do it too many times, but I'm ready when my time's called.
"Hey, ain't no way around that," Jones said about the risk of injury. "This is a physical game. You can get hurt walking a straight line. It's just playing football. There's no way around not getting hurt."
--KR Allen Rossum is out two to four weeks with a torn hamstring.
--CB Mike Jenkins is coming into his own as a coverage cornerback. Nobody has played better on the Cowboys the last month. But he is also getting more and more physical. He had a couple of big hits against the Falcons, while also manhandling receivers and re-directing them on routes. On one play he knocked two receivers down who were trying to do a pick play.
"He's real physical," head coach Wade Phillips said. "I don't know if you saw it, but he knocked the guy down -- the receiver on the outside -- knocked him on his back and then went over and made the interception on the other guy's player, because he had knocked his player down.

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Seahawks:
The bad news continued for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
A day after the Seahawks placed cornerstone tackle Walter Jones on the season-ending injured reserve list for a second straight year with a knee issue, they confirmed that linebacker Lofa Tatupu had surgery in Alabama to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.
The surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, means Tatupu, the team's defensive anchor, is done for the season, and likely will be placed on the injured reserve list.
The Seahawks will probably use the open roster spot to activate cornerback Marcus Trufant, who is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list.
The team has until Saturday to make the move.
Tatupu suffered the injury in the final defensive series of the first half against Arizona two weeks ago.
Seahawks coach Jim Mora initially announced after the game that Tatupu would need surgery and was done for the season. But after further evaluation by team doctors, Mora said the pectoral muscle and tendons on his left pectoral weren't completely torn from the bone.
Team doctors performed another magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the right pectoral muscle to compare the two. They had believed there was a chance that Tatupu could rehabilitate the injury and return sometime this season, but Tatupu opted for surgery.
Second-year pro David Hawthorne will get his second start of the season in place of Tatupu against Dallas on Sunday. Hawthorne started against Chicago when Tatupu missed the game with a hamstring injury, finishing with 17 tackles and an interception.
The Texas Christian University product returns to his home state. He grew up in nearby Corsicana.
Hawthorne said he's expecting about 35 family and friends at the game.
"It feels good to be going home in front of friends and family, and to have an opportunity to start in Dallas," Hawthorne said.

Cowboys:
Wide receiver Roy Williams is coming off a bad game against the Falcons. He had one catch and two drops.
"I don't know where I was," Williams said. "I guess I was with Martellus (Bennett) on Jupiter or something. ... The thing I've got to do is I have a chance to get better this week. I'm glad this wasn't the last game of the year, because I'd have to live with this for four or five months. That taste is out of my mouth. I'm ready to roll, ready to catch the ball and do the things that I've been doing."
Williams is trying his best not to get down on himself, and the Cowboys are not giving up on him despite his numbers. Williams has 12 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown this season. He also has three drops, according to Stats, Inc.
In the 15 games he's played since being traded to the Cowboys, Williams has 31 receptions for 428 yards and two touchdowns. He has also battled injuries. He had a foot injury that plagued him last season. He played against the Falcons with broken ribs that kept him out of the Chiefs game two weeks ago before the bye.
"He had some opportunities," Cowboys' offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "A couple of them were tight, contested plays. We didn't convert for whatever reason. He is going about it the right way. He's been in and out of the lineup with the injury, but he's approached it the right way and is playing better and better, and I think we all believe those connections will come."
Williams said the most important thing is winning. He is not going to focus on his numbers but instead on helping the Cowboys win.
"We're winning. Winning cures all," Williams said. "If I was up north (in Detroit), and I had the game I had last Sunday, we'd have lost 56-3. But we have such a good football team that even though I played like crap, we had other guys step up, and it was a big team win for us."

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