Cowboys force 5 turnovers, edge Seahawks 27-26 in preseason finale

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The exhibition season is over for the Dallas Cowboys. Shortened to just three games with the addition of a 17th regular season contest, Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff had fewer opportunities to watch their troops in game action, but made the most of it in 2022 by sitting their stars and most starters. Instead, the backups got an even bigger piece of the pie, including this final contest against the Seattle Seahawks.

Dallas once again showed their strengths and their weaknesses in this contest, as the defense was able to force five turnovers while the offensive line struggled in pass protection. Dallas played all three of their quarterbacks, finalizing the competition to be Dak Prescott’s backup with Cooper Rush playing one series, Will Grier getting most of the action and Ben DiNucci getting the final few drives. DiNucci coordinated a game-winning drive, finding UDFA rookie TE Peyton Hendershot with around four minutes remaining to give Dallas a 27-26 advantage.

The Cowboys’ defense finished the job with a late muffed snap recovery by Storey Jackson and a tipped interception by Juanyeh Thomas as Dallas ended the exhibition season with a meaningless 2-1 record.

The defensive was jumpstarted by three reserve players continuing the turnover parade after leading the NFL with 34 in 2021. Israel Mukuamu, Nahshon Wright and Markquese Bell all collected interceptions off QB Drew Lock, who was fighting to be the starter to replace the traded-away Russell Wilson. Mukuamu now has two interceptions in three games as he cemented his role as the fourth safety.

The secondary wasn’t the only group putting in work as rookie Sam Williams, despite two unnecessary roughness calls, was a menace all evening. The second-round pick out of Ole Miss had a sack, five tackles and two TFLs while also drawing a holding penalty.

Unfortunately, there weren’t similar standout performances from the offensive line, as Dallas played without Tyron Smith, who is out for months, and first-round rookie Tyler Smith. It was all backups as Zack Martin, Tyler Biadasz and Terence Steele all sat, and there wasn’t much inspiration by the backups.

Josh Ball was once again ineffective at left tackle, leaving big question marks about what the solution will be with Smith out through December.

The porous line play didn’t prevent the offense from making plays, though. Simi Fehoko, Brandon Smith and Peyton Hendershot all caught touchdown passes to try and boost their cases for sticking with the big club.

Now the work to whittle down the 80-man roster begins as Dallas has just over two weeks before they open their regular season at AT&T Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire