SEATTLE -- The Seahawks got the first victory of the season Sunday against a Dallas Cowboys team that seems extremely limited offensively.
Earl Thomas intercepted Dak Prescott twice, Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and Chris Carson added a score on the ground as Seattle earned a 24-13 win to move to 1-2 on the season.
The Seahawks got back to the stated philosophy of running the football and did a much better job of controlling possessions than they had in the first two weeks of the season. Carson was a workhorse and ticked off a couple accomplishments Seattle running backs hadn't experience in some time.
Defensively, Seattle held a struggling Dallas offense in check most of the afternoon. And the few times they didn't keep the offense bottled up, they can up with interceptions to turn the Cowboys away anyway.
Here are the takeaways from Seattle's victory over the Cowboys:
1. Commitment to running the ball pays dividends.
After getting away from the rushing attack they spent all offseason saying they needed to prioritize, the Seahawks finally committed to the ground attack against the Cowboys.
Carson scored the team's first rushing touchdown by a running back since Oct. 1, 2017 with a 5-yard score in the fourth quarter. J.D. McKissic's 30-yard run against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 4 of last season was the last time a Seattle running back reached the end zone.
Carson carried the ball 32 times for 102 yards and was the clear lead tailback in the rotation. Rashaad Penny carried just three times and had a fumble, which he recovered.
Carson became the first Seattle running back to rush for 100 yards in a game since Thomas Rawls rushed or 106 yards against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 4, 2016. He's also the first back with 30 carries in a game since Rawls had 30 against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 22, 2015.
"Chris was really a workhorse today going for 30 carries," head coach Pete Carroll said. "I just thought that the whole feel of it, the whole attitude, the menatlity, everything fit together precisely how we hoped to see it. Now it's our job to recreate it and do something again with it this week."
Seattle managed that success on the ground despite change at all three interior offensive line spots.
Joey Hunt started in place of an injured Justin Britt at center. D.J. Fluker returned to the lineup at right guard after missing the first two games of the regular season, and J.R. Sweezy made his first career start at left guard after subbing for Fluker the first two weeks.
"We didn't miss a beat," left tackle Duane Brown said. "We were in sync and doing a great job of running the ball, passing the ball, communicating up front, passing off the (rush) games. They did a lot of line stunts and we were able to communicate it all. So it's a great sign and we're just looking to keep this formula going."
Seattle ran a season-high 67 offensive plays and had 37 runs in the game.
2. Russell Wilson has his best game in quite a while.
Wilson had his cleanest and most impressive performance in game since probably Seattle's 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last November.
While he only passed for 192 yards in the game, Wilson was efficient and didn't make the glaring mistakes he's made in recent outings. He completed 16 of 26 passes and tossed touchdowns to Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown in supplementing Seattle's rushing attack.
"I thought Russ played really well at controlling the tempo of the game," Carroll said. "He was really smart today. he was really on it. I really liked him in the role. He had a lot of stuff he did, a lot of subtle things today that you might not ne able to see that we're really happy about in controlling how the rhythm of the game went."
Wilson fit a terrific throw to Tyler Lockett up the sideline, perfectly placed and timed to beat the Cover 2 defense run by Dallas on the play. Safety Kavon Frazier couldn't make a play on Lockett, who raced 52 yards for a touchdown. Wilson also fit a nice touchdown pass to Jaron Brown for 16 yards and rifled a ball to Brandon Marshall right over the shoulder pads of cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
Additionally, he didn't seem to take any poor sacks by needlessly extending plays and threw the ball on time throughout the afternoon.
Wilson will make good throws just about every game he plays. He's a terrific passer and can be remarkably accurate. It's the other areas of playing the position that have been at issue at times since the latter stages of last season.
While he's had better raw numbers at times over his last eight games or so, Wilson didn't have the management mistakes that had derailed some of those performances.
3. The Earl Thomas circus has to get resolved somehow.
Thomas had two interceptions in Sunday's victory over the Cowboys after skipping two days of practice this last week. Thomas now has three interceptions on the season and continues to show he's one of the best defensive backs in football when he's healthy and on the field.
But the distraction over Thomas' situation with the Seahawks may be reaching a critical mass.
Thomas admitted after the game that he's not going to practice if he feels even the slightest bit unhealthy to do so. He understands that he'll be fined for skipping practices but said he's looking out for himself since the team isn't taking care of him contractually.
"I need to make sure my body is 100 and I'm invested in myself," Thomas said. "If they was invested in me, I'd be out there practicing, but if I feel like anything - I don't give a damn if it's small, I got a headache - I'm not practicing. But I don't want that to get taken the wrong way. I know I'm going to get fined but that's just where I'm at with that."
Thomas said he expects he will be fined for his absences.
"I probably will. Definitely. They definitely gonna tax me," Thomas said. "I'm sure I'll have a slip in my locker."
It appears to be Thomas' way of asserting some leverage over the team in his search for a new contract.
"I just want to be appreciated that's it," Thomas reiterated after the game.
The Seahawks seemingly won't know if Thomas will decide he's able to practice on a daily basis. Thomas continues to be upset that he hasn't gone the contract or he wants from Seattle or a trade to a team that will give him a new deal. It's also another example of a star player knowing he can get away with pretty much anything he wants without significant repercussions.
Thomas said he didn't know if this would be his last game with Seattle. He heard the trade rumblings as well and noted Cowboys assistant coaches were asking him "you ready for the trade tomorrow?" However, he said he's happy with this performance being his last with the Seahawks if that ultimately is the case.
"I don't know if it was but I had a damn good time and I'll go out like that if I have to," Thomas said.
Thomas hauled in his second interception of the game and proceeded to take a bow in the direction of the Dallas sideline, which drew a taunting penalty.
"I felt like that was just in the moment and if they was going to trade for me and extend me, they should have did it," Thomas said of the bow and the Cowboys.
It's difficult to envision a scenario where Seattle just lives with Thomas sitting out routinely whenever he decides he's less than 100 percent, which most players would say you never are once a season begins. It's also be difficult to foresee the Seahawks giving in and giving Thomas the extension he wants.
Carroll said there was no chance that Thomas wouldn't be available to them for the game.
"I haven't even talked to him about it other than we made it through and we'll talk next week," Carroll said. "There's nothing to even tell you about right now. I'll let you know next week.
"Let me tell you what I do know. What I do know is he gave everything he had today. He was in every step of the way, every aspect of the game. The communications, the focus and the adjustments and we were going. I was with him on some of those things on the sidelines. He was in everything. he played his tail off and he had a blast playing and he had a blast in the locker room. I'll talk to him next week about whatever."
Thomas has found a way to put pressure back on the team, especially if he's not concerned about any fines that could come with his decisions. It's difficult to imagine this continuing for another 14 weeks.
That being said, Marshawn Lynch tapped out of playing a playoff game and still started the next week, so who knows.
4. The defense is handling its business despite big-name departures.
After a Week 1 showing that saw Denver score 27 points against Seattle's defense, the group has rallied to perform quite well given the players that haven't been on the field.
Not only have Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor been absent, but Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright have missed time as well. Nevertheless, Seattle's defense allowed just 17 points last week to Chicago (seven points came on a Wilson pick-six) and held Dallas to just 13 points on Sunday.
Tre Flowers punched a ball away from Michael Gallup that was intercepted by Thomas. A deflected pass late found its way into Thomas' arms as well for a second interception. Bradley McDougald punched a ball out of the arms of running back Ezekiel Elliott from behind, which was recovered by Justin Coleman for a third turnovers.
As many star defenders as Seattle had a year ago, that group wasn't forcing turnovers like the 2018 unit has. While you can argue it's out of necessity given the loss of talented players on that side of the ball, the group is still doing what it takes to keep the team in games.
Wagner's return was obvious as he was all over the field. Frank Clark notched his third sack in as many games. Jarran Reed added two sacks and Barkevious Mingo got one as well. Most of Elliott's yardage came in the latter stages as Dallas ran the ball against Seattle when they were expecting the Cowboys to pass.
McDougald has been a standout over the first three games as well with two interceptions in Denver and a forced fumble this afternoon.
It's not peak Legion of Boom type performances for Seattle on defense, but it's been plenty good enough. Given the turnover on that side of the ball this offseason, that's about all you could hope for.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks intercepts a pass against tight end Blake Jarwin #89 of the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)