New attitude: These Cowboys won't fade

SEATTLE -- The Dallas Cowboys traveled to the noisiest stadium in the Western Hemisphere -- or so we've been told -- to play the defending Super Bowl champs, a collection of football bullies known for humiliating their opponents in the Emerald City.

No worries.

The Cowboys didn't get flustered when they fell behind by 10 points early against a team that had won 17 of its previous 18 home games. And they didn't flinch when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner's devastating hit left Tony Romo crumpled on the turf midway through the first quarter.

They just kept playing with ruthless efficiency until they finally forced the Seahawks to submit and the 12th Man to shut up.

Dallas 30, Seattle 23.

"Mental toughness is a big thing for our team," coach Jason Garrett said. "It was a big thing this week. Be your best regardless of circumstance. We had to overcome stuff today. We had to overcome a good football team, crowd noise and turnovers.

"You keep playing. You don't shy away from it. You don't back down. You just keep going and doing your job."

Understand, there was nothing fluky about the Cowboys' fifth consecutive win, their longest streak since 2007. Seattle had won its home games by an average of 16.4 points since 2012.

Dallas was more physical than Seattle, bringing the fight to the bullies. Heck, Romo played the final 3 1/2 quarters with bruised ribs.

The Cowboys were better offensively, totaling 401 yards and keeping the ball for 37:39. They were better defensively, limiting Seattle to 206 yards, while making receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Russell Wilson nonfactors.

If the Cowboys hadn't had a blocked punt, botched a snap and muffed a punt, it's fair to ask if Seattle would've even scored a touchdown. Seattle's last scoring drives were 14, 5 and 12 yards.

A different kind of vibe has enveloped the Cowboys for weeks. They talk with a confidence born from a belief in each other and a coaching staff that preaches the same message each day. Each win builds their confidence in each other and the message. And veterans like Jason Witten and Romo have persuaded their teammates that the sins of past Cowboys teams have zero to do with them.

Obviously, some of the players are the same, but this team's soul is different.

This is a physical offense that no longer takes what the defense gives it; it takes what it wants. This is a defense that prides itself on toughness. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli talks about it daily and now the players believe they're supposed to bow down to no one.

"Our defense is trash," linebacker Justin Durant bellowed to no one in particular in the Cowboys' raucous locker room.

Then he laughed.

"Seattle was going to run all over us," he scoffed.

Then he laughed again.

Rolando McClain, whose leaping interception sealed the win, turned to Durant and said, "The past is dead and gone. We ain't going nowhere. Nowhere."

We've seen the Cowboys fade many times over the past decade, and they've missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons. But Garrett has built this team in the image of the Cowboys teams that dominated the '90s. These Cowboys revolve around a nasty offensive line that dominates the line of scrimmage and a running game that's easily the NFL's best.

Seattle led the NFL in rushing defense (62.3 yards per game) and yards per rush (2.6 per carry).

So what?

The Cowboys rushed for 162 yards on 37 carries, a 4.4 average. DeMarco Murray joined Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown as the only players to start a season with six consecutive 100-yard games after he gained 115 yards on 29 carries.

But it was Joseph Randle who provided the game's most important run.

The Cowboys trailed 10-0 five minutes into the game after Seattle returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. In similar situations, we've seen the Cowboys get flustered and get embarrassed.

This time, they battled.

After a third-down conversion by Lance Dunbar, Randle burst 38 yards up the middle on the next carry. It was the longest run against Seattle all season.

A 21-yard completion to Witten moved the ball to the Seattle 5. Three plays later, Romo threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Escobar.

"I didn't come here to lose," defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey said. "It was not on my mind this week."

The Cowboys have three consecutive home games against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals before a trip to London for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This is the time to stack up wins and create a cushion for the difficult end-of-the-season schedule.

Folks who were worried about a letdown after the Cowboys' blowout win over the New Orleans Saints will now be talking about whether next week's contest is a trap game.

It's not going to happen. They might lose, but it won't be because the Cowboys overlooked the Giants.

This team follows Garrett's lead and all he ever talks about is each player improving each day, which will help each unit get better, which will collectively help the team improve.

It's not sexy, but it works because the players believe his philosophy. So you can relax; these Cowboys won't fade.