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Photo Credit: COURTESY OF MICHAEL WORKMAN - Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll ponders the flow of Sunday's home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks have plenty of time to get it together in their drive to defend a Super Bowl championship.

For now, though, they'd better concentrate on playing well enough to make it to the NFL playoffs.

The most surprising thing about Seattle's 30-23 loss to Dallas Sunday at CenturyLink Field is that the final count wasn't more one-sided.

The Cowboys (5-1) dominated the statistical sheet so convincingly -- in first downs (23-9), total offense (401-206), total plays (70-46) and time of possession (37:39 to 22:21) -- that even glass-half-full coach Pete Carroll couldn't spin his remarks to the media.

"We make no excuses," Carroll said after his Seahawks fell to 3-2. The Cowboys "played really well. They did a lot of cool stuff out there, and we were not right in any phase of the game. … We're better than that."

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had one of his quietest afternoons as a professional, completing 14 of 28 passes for 126 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. Wilson ran twice for 12 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown that brought the Seahawks into a 17-17 tie in the third quarter.

"I didn't play my best game," Wilson said. "I was a little off on some throws that I'm normally not -- maybe an inch or two to the right or left. That's what it comes down to.

"I know I can complete those balls. I know I will. I'll get it fixed."

The Seahawks' problems went way beyond Wilson. Dallas used a balanced offense -- QB Tony Romo threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, NFL rushing leader Demarco Murray ran for 115 yards and a score -- and a punishing defense to silence the Seahawks' "12th Man" crowd much of the day. David Bailey kicked a pair of field goals, including one from 56 yards that forged a 20-20 tie in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys, who have run off five straight victories after a season-opening 28-17 loss to San Francisco, are the ones who left the Clink with a swagger.

"I give (the Cowboys) a lot of credit," Carroll said. "They've won five games in a row. Demarco was terrific today. Tony was fantastic. They played the game they wanted to play, and we couldn't do anything about it. We kept it close, we had a chance, but couldn't get it done. A big win for (the Cowboys). They deserve every bit of it."

Dallas led only 17-10 at the half despite running 39 plays to 17 for Seattle, which seemed well on its way to approaching the franchise record low of 35 plays run in a 1979 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

"We only had three drives the first half," Wilson said. "That's tough on you offensively. You want to play so well and get the ball back. It's a little bit frustrating.

"But it comes down to when you get your opportunities, capitalize. We didn't do that."

Dallas entered the game No. 1 in the league in rushing, Seattle No. 1 in rushing defense. Something had to give.

The Seahawks focused on containing Murray, who came in with 670 yards (5.2 average) and five TDs rushing in five games. For 3 1/2 quarters, it worked.

Murray had 22 carries for 64 yards when the Cowboys, trailing 23-20, lined up for a third-and-20 on their 31-yard line with 4:55 remaining. Romo skirted pressure and found Terrance Williams for 23 yards along the sidelines.

"The game was in our hands," Carroll said. "If we get out, then we're working to kill the clock and win the game. I didn't see how he escaped, but it was a great throw-and-catch play -- the most significant play of the game. Tony has a magic about him. He always has. He pulled it out right then and made an incredibly good play."

With a first down at the Seattle 47, Murray went to work, first picking up 25 yards … then six yards … and finally 15 yards up the middle for a touchdown and a 27-23 advantage with 3:16 to play. That put Murray over the century mark and allowed him to join the great Jim Brown as the only players to start a season with six 100-yard rushing games.

There would be no Seattle comeback. On this day, the Seahawks' offense had little to offer.

"We had no rhythm," Carroll said. "We weren't able to get going run- or pass-wise."

"For whatever reason," Wilson said, "we were just off by a little bit. I was very confident we were going to find a way to win, but we didn't do it. As poorly as I played, we still had a chance to win. That's all you can ask for."

Not really. You could ask for a much better performance on both sides of ball. Defensively, the biggest failing was on third down, where the Cowboys converted 10 of 17 times -- 7 of 9 in the first half.

"We've been doing that every game," Romo said. "I know sometimes against (the Seahawks), teams don't do that. It was nice to be able to execute."

Seattle was in the game at the end primarily because of three plays -- a Seahawk touchdown off a first-quarter blocked punt and a pair of Dallas giveaways on successive possessions in the third quarter. The turnovers:

• Seattle's Mike Morgan recovered a fumbled punt by Dwayne Harris at the Dallas 14. Two plays later, Wilson scrambled for nine yards and a TD to tie it at 17-17.

• On Dallas' next series, Romo fumbled a snap and Seattle's Jordan Hill recovered at the Dallas 20. The Seahawks settled for a 33-yard Steven Hauschka field goal and 20-17 lead.

The Cowboys had plenty enough to rally and claim the victory from there.

"We just stuck with it," said tight end Jason Witten, who snared a 21-yard touchdown pass. "The defense played huge. They have a little chip on their shoulder. A lot of people have told them how bad they are for a long time."

The Seahawks were on the verge of bad Sunday. They even had a little UCLA-style meltdown on the sidelines late, with receiver Doug Baldwin yapping at Wilson.

"I'm not mad at Russ," Baldwin said. "It's just frustrating. We have too much talent over here not to move the ball."

"Everybody was a little frustrated," Wilson said. "It's not just one guy or two guys or three guys. I was frustrated, too. This is where leadership shows up, when there is some adversity."

The Seahawks are one game behind Arizona (4-1) in the NFC West, with San Francisco (3-2) poised to move ahead of them with a win at St. Louis Monday night.

Seattle's schedule over the next month isn't bad -- at St. Louis and Carolina the next two weeks, then home dates with Oakland and the New York Giants.

"We're still a great football team," Wilson offered. "We know we're a great team. We know we have the right guys. We have a great coaching staff and the best fans in the world. We're going to be ready to go."

The question, though, is where?

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