The last time Bradley McDougald saw Amari Cooper, the Seahawks’ safety was walking away from the concussed Cooper, who was face-down on the field at Wembley Stadium in London.
McDougald’s hit in a game there in October ended Cooper’s time with the Oakland Raiders.
Saturday night, they oppose each other for the first time since that blow. This time, it’s back on this continent, in the playoffs. Cooper is the biggest upgrade the Dallas Cowboys have made since Seattle played them in September.
McDougald says isn’t going to talk to him before hand. Has McDougald talked to Cooper since that hit three months ago?
“No,” Seattle’s strong safety said Wednesday at his locker before Seahawks practice. “I posted a post, kind of more to clear the air. I don’t know him personally. I wished him well. That was about it. I just kind of left it at that.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that before. That was my first time being in that situation. I just kind of left it as a big hit. It’s not about, you know, it’s not about that. I don’t have anything personal toward him. It’s not a vendetta towards this man. I’m going to attack it like any other game. I don’t talk to my opponents. I don’t plan to talk to him. I plan to go to work.”
In the Seahawks-Raiders game in London Oct. 14, Cooper was crossing the middle on a short pass route early in the second quarter. Derek Carr’s throw was low and away from the wide receiver. As Cooper reached down in an attempt to catch the pass McDougald lowered his shoulder and his head at Cooper. The top of McDougald’s helmet was the first thing to contact the side of Cooper’s head. Cooper spun around and to the ground.
As McDougald walked away, Carr rushed to the dazed Cooper, who left the game. Carr yelled at McDougald on the field for what he, Raiders coach Jon Gruden and most saw as a helmet-to-helmet hit that should have been a penalty.
After that game, while still inside Wembley Stadium, McDougald posted his prayers for Cooper.
“This game isn’t for the faint, weak minded or weak hearted,” McDougald wrote. “The same big hits you “love” are the same ones you “hate” when it’s your favorite player... Prayers up to Coop!.. Thank you London for the Vibes, Experiences, and Win!”
Game officials did not penalize McDougald for the hit. But the NFL did. A few days later the league fined him $26,739.
He said Wednesday he appealed that fine. He got it reduced by about $7,000.
It was Cooper’s last act as a Raider. Before its next game Oakland traded its fourth-overall draft choice from 2015 to the Cowboys for a first-round pick.
Since then, Cooper has recovered to become the game-breaking receiver Dak Prescott and the Cowboys lacked in week three, when Dallas lost at Seattle 24-13. Cooper has 52 of his 75 catches and six of his seven touchdowns this season in his nine games as a Cowboy. That includes his mammoth night last month against Philadelphia: 10 catches, 217 yards, three touchdowns.
Dallas won seven of its last eight games with Cooper to seize the NFC East division title and Saturday night’s home playoff game against the Seahawks.
Cooper makes the Cowboys much more difficult to defend this time than the last three times Seattle has played them. The Seahawks have won the three meetings since 2015: 13-12 and 21-12 in Arlington, Texas, and that 24-13 win at CenturyLink Field this season.
Asked what he expects from Cooper Saturday night compared to what he saw in Cooper’s brief appearance as a Raider, McDougald said: “Different scheme. Different team.
“He has been pretty much lighting it up. He’s become a real focal of that offense. They’ve got a connection going. They found it pretty early, him and Dak are going well.
“But we are focused on him with the Cowboys. That’s about it.”