A favorable set of games might help the Dallas Cowboys forget about the miserable performance in their most recent one.
The Cowboys open that stretch with a visit from the inconsistent Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Dallas struggled on both sides of the ball during a 34-7 drubbing at NFC East foe Philadelphia on Sunday night. The Cowboys (3-4) gave up a season-high 495 yards and 239 on the ground - their most in three years - after previously allowing a league-low 69.7 per contest.
They also gained a season-low 267 yards while falling two games behind New York in the division and scored their fewest points since a 45-7 loss to Green Bay last November.
“We weren’t up to the task,” coach Jason Garrett said. “This game is not coming back. We can learn from it and move on to the next challenge.”
Dallas might not have as many challenges over its next five games and that could give it the opportunity to bounce back. Those five opponents are currently a combined 11-24 and only one of those teams - Buffalo - has a winning record, but that game is at Cowboys Stadium.
“We don’t look ahead too much. We certainly feel like we just have to control our own business,” Garrett said. “Our entire focus is doing our best to get ourselves ready to play Seattle.”
Dallas might be a little short-handed for this stretch. The status of leading tackler Sean Lee(notes) is unknown because of an ailing left wrist, and punter Mat McBriar(notes) (left foot) and cornerback Mike Jenkins(notes) (right hamstring) are also dealing with injuries.
Felix Jones(notes) is still trying to come back from a high ankle sprain, and his absence has left DeMarco Murray(notes) and Phillip Tanner(notes) as the only healthy running backs on the Cowboys roster.
Murray had a team-record 253 yards in a win over St. Louis on Oct. 23 and 74 on eight carries in his first career start last Sunday before the Cowboys were forced to go to the air after falling behind.
If Murray can add to his string of strong performances, it might be enough to lead the Cowboys past the Seahawks (2-5), who have one touchdown in their last two games. Seattle has 15 points over those contests after scoring a combined 64 in its previous two.
The Seahawks have registered 17 or fewer points in five of their seven games.
Marshawn Lynch(notes) scored the lone TD during last week’s 34-12 home loss to Cincinnati but was held to 24 yards on 16 carries. Seattle gained just 61 on the ground with 28 coming on one run from Leon Washington(notes).
Tarvaris Jackson(notes), initially supposed to rest a strained pectoral, threw for a career-best 323 yards in relief of an ineffective Charlie Whitehurst(notes), but the Seahawks couldn’t overcome some late mistakes.
They gave up a punt return for a touchdown with 3:22 remaining, and Jackson’s lone interception was brought back for a score in the final seconds.
The team’s performance left Lynch visibly upset on the sidelines.
“There’s already frustration now. I think you could see it in our play,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think our guys were over-trying at times and it got us a little out of whack. … I think that comes from pressing, which is a result of frustration. I think it’s already here. They’re already frustrated and I am, too.”
Trying to stop Tony Romo(notes) has frustrated the Seahawks in the past two matchups as he’s thrown for three touchdowns in each, and the Cowboys won those by a combined 72-26 score. Romo’s only other start against Seattle was the infamous 2007 playoff loss in which he botched the hold on a potential 19-yard, game-winning field goal.
The Seahawks are hoping to have Jackson for a full game this time, but he’ll likely need a better performance than in his only other matchup with the Cowboys. Jackson was 6 of 19 for 72 yards during a 24-14 road loss for Minnesota in 2007.
The Seahawks have allowed a league-worst 28 sacks this season, and Ware is second in the NFL with 12 after having had a career-high four sacks last Sunday.
“You have to be aware of him at all times,” Carroll said. “He’s that good. He’s that impacting. They do move him around, which makes it more difficult. We have to have a plan to keep track of him or he’ll control the game.”