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Cowboys Hash Marks: Moral victory relativism after Week 3 loss in Seattle

The Dallas Cowboys were unable to grab their first road win of 2020 against the Seattle Seahawks but there were some positives to come out of Sunday’s loss.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup makes a catch as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin (26) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No one likes moral victories; they don't add up in the win column, and no one ever secured a first-round bye, division title, or playoff spot with one. If anything, moral victories are great for getting a higher pick in the draft.

However, the Dallas Cowboys' 38-31 "moral victory" loss against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field was replete with positives that the team can build upon going forward.

1. Michael Gallup has arrived — The 2018 receiving corps had promise. Even though Dallas was rolling with Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, and Cole Beasley as a "receiver by committee," that was as effective at replacing Dez Bryant as Coy and Vance Duke were at replacing Bo and Luke Duke.

Meanwhile, there was this third-rounder from Colorado State who flashed promise as the intern for the committee. As most receivers do, Gallup just needed a season or two to develop, and then he could be Dak Prescott's new No. 1 wideout. That season has arrived in 2020, and the Seahawks game was yet another example. 

Gallup caught six passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. The 6-1, 205-pound wideout found ways to get open and threaten Seattle's secondary. Gallup wasn't good enough in his rookie year to stave off the label of ancillary option after the trade for Amari Cooper, but Gallup's ascent, and having Cooper on the other side of the field makes the Cowboys' passing game among the most dangerous in the league.

2. OL coach Joe Philbin gets creative — Rookie right tackle Terence Steele tried to play through a stomach bug in Seattle, but he wasn't 100% and that hampered the offensive line. New Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Philbin had been tinkering with different offensive line combinations throughout training camp, including kicking All-Pro right guard Zack Martin outside at right tackle. Philbin's philosophy of mad science was something that hadn't been seen with the Cowboys for the past decade. Instead of "next man up," it was "next combination up." 

Working out different combinations in live-action also gave Dallas a feel for what can work when they have to absorb injuries down the road. Running back Ezekiel Elliott couldn't find any daylight with the offensive line shuffle, producing 34 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. However, Prescott was able to stay upright with just two sacks taken and 472 yards passing.

3. Another center from Wisconsin — The starting center job out of camp was Joe Looney's just given the fact he was a veteran and also filled in nicely for Dallas in 2018 when Travis Frederick was out with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. However, in the limited time that Tyler Biadasz has taken hold of the center job, the former Wisconsin Badger has performed at the level expected of any lineman from the Big Ten offensive lineman factory. 

During the offensive line shuffle, Looney slid over to right guard, and could still provide support for the rookie fourth-rounder. Biadasz produced clean snaps for Prescott and held his own against the Seahawks' interior defensive line. Don't be surprised if Biadasz locks up the center spot at some point in the season.

4. Mike McCarthy lives for 1-2 — The Cowboys are 1-2 for the second time in three seasons and that type of record doesn't bode well for playoff chances. However, if there is any coach who can fix a 1-2 start, it is McCarthy. 

With the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy started 1-2 four times, including his first season in 2006. The Packers didn't make the playoffs in Brett Favre's penultimate season with the club, but Green Bay did qualify for the postseason in 2012, 2013, and 2014 after 1-2 starts. 

Remember Aaron Rodgers' famous R-E-L-A-X quote? It was from 2014 after the Packers fell 19-7 at the Detroit Lions and were 1-2 for the third straight season. Of course, the NFC East being atrocious for the second straight season is the preemptive heartburn pill for Cowboys fans, but anyone anxious about Dallas' record just needs to know McCarthy has been here before and improved the record.

How are you feeling about the Cowboys after they were unable to walk away with a win on Sunday? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.