Chris Carson dished out punishing runs. Russell Wilson made smart, decisive throws at key moments. A defense led by Bobby Wagner and an unhappy Earl Thomas forced turnovers, making Dak Prescott and Dallas look meager trying to move the ball.
The Seattle Seahawks returned to a familiar, old formula to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start, beating the Cowboys 24-13 on Sunday.
"This is how we want to play. We couldn't be any more specific about it," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Wilson threw two touchdown passes in the first half, Carson added a 5-yard TD run in early in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks won their 10th straight home opener. Wilson hit Jaron Brown on an 16-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and later hit Tyler Lockett streaking up the sideline on a 52-yard scoring pass, and Seattle (1-2) built a 17-3 halftime lead and cruised past the Cowboys.
The duo of Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott didn't have the answers against a Seattle defense that had Thomas on the field and welcomed back Wagner after the Seahawks' defensive leader missed Week 2 with a groin injury.
Prescott was intercepted twice by Thomas , including with 3:09 remaining at the Seattle 15 on a deflected pass, with Thomas bowing to the Dallas sideline at the end of the play. It was Thomas' way of acknowledging the Cowboys should have done more by now to try to acquire him from the Seahawks after the former All-Pro made it clear he wanted out of Seattle if a contract extension wasn't coming.
"I felt like that was just in the moment and if they were going to trade for me and extend me, they should have did it," Thomas said of his bow that drew a 15-yard penalty.
Prescott was sacked five times and Dallas (1-2) had just 58 net yards passing entering the fourth quarter. Elliott had momentary flashes, busting off a few long runs, but they were too infrequent for Dallas' stagnant offense.
Thomas' second interception was one of two turnovers forced by Seattle in the fourth quarter. Elliott broke free for a 26-yard run to the Seattle 19 earlier in the quarter, but had the ball punched free from behind by Bradley McDougald and recovered by the Seahawks.
"When you've got that ball in your hand, that's the team in our hand," Elliott said. "Me being a leader on the team, I've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. I mean, that cost us the game."
Prescott finished 19 of 34 for 168 yards and a 3-yard shovel pass TD to Tavon Austin with 7:11 remaining. Dallas failed to pass for 200 yards for the ninth time in the past 11 games dating to last season. Elliott had 127 yards on 16 carries.
"We've got to find exactly our go-to in the passing game -- and not necessarily am I speaking on a player," Prescott said. "I'm just speaking on our go-to concepts or go-to beaters or whatever it may be that we didn't get to."
Meanwhile, Wilson had the kind of protection that's been absent most of the season. After being sacked 12 times in the first two games, Wilson was 16 of 26 for 192 yards and sacked twice by Dallas' defense that was second in the league in sacks. Despite missing starting center Justin Britt, the offensive line gave Wilson enough time for a few big plays in the passing game.
Wilson's strike to Brown gave Seattle a 7-0 lead and he took advantage of the absence of safety Jeff Heath when he found Lockett on a 52-yard TD late in the second quarter. Heath departed with a left ankle injury earlier in the drive and Wilson found Lockett streaking up the sideline. Heath's replacement, Kavon Frazier, was late to rotate over and Lockett went untouched, high-stepping the final few yards for a 14-3 lead.
Carson's TD run was the first by a Seahawks running back since J.D. McKissic found the end zone on a 31-yard run in Week 4 of the 2017 season. Seattle went 14 games without a running back finding the end zone until Carson bulled his way in with 12:54 remaining.
Carson finished with 102 yards, the first Seattle running back to top 100 yards since late in the 2016 season.
"This is the offense we claimed to be the whole offseason," Carson said.
Following a week of drama surrounding Thomas, the former All-Pro safety started and almost immediately made his presence known. Thomas missed two days of practice for personal reasons which Carroll provided only vague answers as to why, and left open the possibility Thomas wouldn't play.
He was on the field as usual, and it took less than a quarter before Thomas was making a remarkable interception, pinning a deflected pass against his shin. It was the second two-interception game of his career and the first since his rookie season in 2010.
Seattle was gifted three points at the end of the half when Randy Gregory was baited into a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, smacking Seattle's Joey Hunt in the facemask. The penalty put Seattle in range for Sebastian Janikowski's 47-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead at the half.
Dallas also played a large portion of the second half without linebacker Sean Lee due to a hamstring injury. Lee said it was the same issue that had him listed as questionable on the injury report.
"It feels like the same deal, but I have to get (evaluated) and see where I'm at," Lee said.
Cowboys: returns home to host Detroit next Sunday.
Seahawks: at division rival Arizona next Sunday.