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Originally published September 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Page modified September 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM

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Cowboys admit they were totally outplayed by the Seahawks

Frustrations grew in second half when Cowboys' offense limited to a few chances

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett likes to talk about "the three phases of the game," and Sunday he frankly admitted his team was whipped in all of them.

But much of the hard questioning in the Dallas locker room following Seattle's 27-7 victory Sunday regarded two more esoteric phases of football than the traditional offense, defense and special teams.

Specifically, Garrett and his players — not to mention their owner, the ubiquitous Jerry Jones — were asked, repeatedly, whether they had been out-prepared and out-"physicaled" by the Seahawks.

No one wanted to go there, but the Cowboys didn't even try to deny they got outplayed.

"We didn't expect to come in here and lose the game the way we did," said quarterback Tony Romo. "I can literally think of 10 things where, 'Boy, you can't do that and win the game.' We did them all. It's tough to overcome that."

What really irked the Cowboys wasn't just that they came out discombobulated, unleashing a fumbled kickoff, blocked punt and interception all within the first 10 minutes of the game.

It's that they weathered that storm of mistakes to put themselves within striking distance at halftime — and then managed just three possessions (not counting one with 36 seconds left in a lost-cause game) while getting totally dominated in the second half.

"We gave them a lot of opportunities early, but I thought our team did a good job of battling back in the first half and making it a manageable game at halftime," Garrett said. "The second half was a different story. They moved the ball well offensively against our defense. We didn't move the ball well against their defense."

Was that because the Seahawks did a better job in preparation, despite the fact Dallas had 12 days to get ready?

"When you have that long to prepare, you know what's at stake and what you're going against," said Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware. "We came in very prepared, but we didn't execute like we should."

"I know this: In everything about playing football, they were better than we were today," Jones added. "Every aspect of it. So we can call it whatever you want to call it, but they were better than we were today, all the way."

Added tight end Jason Witten: "They played a lot better than us, so I guess you could say they were more physical than us. We'll watch the tape. We just didn't make the plays, myself included. ... If that's out-physicaling us, maybe they did."

One physical play that definitely had the Cowboys talking was Golden Tate's vicious block on linebacker Sean Lee in the fourth quarter that helped spring Russell Wilson for a 14-yard gain. They felt Tate warranted a penalty, but instead the Cowboys got flagged on the play for unnecessary roughness.

"I don't want to get into the officiating, but I thought that was a defenseless player who was hit," Garrett said. "I think that everybody thought that, but then they called it on us on their sideline."

Lee said he didn't have concussion symptoms and was cleared to go back into the game.

"My head didn't hurt at all, even after the hit," he said. "It was more about losing breath, catching my breath."

Asked if he thought it was a cheap shot, Lee said, "It's part of the deal. It's part of the game. It's not really for me to judge. I'll watch the film, but I know that can happen any time when you're out there playing hard."

He and the Cowboys were more irked by Tate's celebration of the hit.

"It really pissed me off, if you want to be honest," Ware said. "Anybody that retaliates on any of our players on defense or offense, you've got to take that mentality back to them. That's part of this game, it's a brutal game, but we didn't do that."

Said Lee: "That's part of the deal; he can celebrate all he wants. I'll bet you if we went head to head and squared up, he probably wouldn't be celebrating as much."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

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