Cowboys ride Elliott and their defence to win over Seahawks
ARLINGTON, Texas — Slag Jason Garrett all you want, but he’s the first head coach to defeat Pete Carroll in Seattle’s first game of the post-season.
Six others this decade have tried, but lost.
Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night twice rallied to defeat Carroll’s Seahawks 24-22 at AT&T Stadium, in the first of two weekend NFC wild-card playoff games.
Should Chicago defeat Philadelphia on Sunday, the Cowboys (11-6) would play the following Sunday at New Orleans.
Should the Eagles upset the Bears, then the Cowboys would play Saturday at the Los Angeles Rams.
Garrett levelled his playoff record at 2-2, and Dallas won only its fourth of 13 postseason games since winning three Super Bowls in four years in early 1990s.
As for the Seahawks, this was the first time they lost their opening playoff game in seven times reaching the post-season under head coach Carroll, since he returned to the pro ranks from USC in 2010.
In a game dominated by the defences until both began to tire late in the third quarter, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown for Dallas. Teammate Dak Prescott completed 22-of-33 for 226 yards and a touchdown, plus rushed for 29 yards and a late, game-sealing touchdown.
The Cowboys defence, though, was the story of the game. It was outstanding, as it had been with little fanfare through most of the regular season.
Dallas absolutely shut down the Seahawks’ leagueleading rushing attack, limiting it as a whole to just 73 yards and leading groundgainer Chris Carson to just 20 yards on 13 carries. Dallas led 10-6 at the half. The first big break of the second half went the Seahawks’ way when they downed a Dickson punt at the Dallas one-yard line. The Cowboys couldn’t budge in three plays and punted.
After a short punt the Seahawks took over at the Dallas 44 with seven minutes left in the third quarter — and promptly marched for the go-ahead touchdown, their first of the game.
Three killer plays so typical of the Seahawks in the Wilson era got them into the end zone.
First, on a crucial 4th-and-5 at the Dallas 39. With a 57-yard field goal not an option, what with Seattle placekicker Sebastian Janikowski out for the game after injuring a quad apparently on a 57-yard attempt to end the first half — Wilson lofted a deep pass to his trusty wide receiver Doug Baldwin, on a crosser going left.
Wilson threw it perfectly. Baldwin caught it at the 17-yard line at the sideline, but looked out of bounds. Sideline officials ruled him in. They were right. Replays showed he got his left foot clearly in bounds then dragged his right foot, spraying up tiny bits of chewed-up tires that cushion modern football and soccer fields.
Three plays later, on 3rd-and-5 from the Dallas 12, Wilson kept on a read-option around left end for seven yards. Two plays after that, Wilson did it again, this time keeping around the right end and he zipped in for an easy touchdown.
Mike Davis ploughed in for the two-point conversion and Seattle led again, 14-10.
With both defences now tiring early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys marched 67 yards in nine plays and retook the lead on a one-yard plunge by Elliott. The conversion gave Dallas 17-14 lead, with 12:28 remaining.
Seattle then went threeand-out, and momentum swung further to Dallas when Tavon Austin returned a 60-yard Dickson punt 51 yards, from his 11-yard line to the Seattle 38.
On first down Prescott faked a handoff, rolled right, then threw back far and deep to his left to a crossing Amari Cooper, for a 27-yard gain. He appeared to lose possession after taking a third step and hitting the ground.
Carroll challenged it, but the play was correctly confirmed. Under the old complete-the-catch-to-the-ground rule, in effect until this year, that probably would have been overturned to an incompletion.
Although Prescott was intercepted in the end zone by Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright with 9:34 left, again the Seahawks offence couldn’t do anything and punted.
Dallas then put the game away — a sight seldom seen in a huge Cowboys game this century. They marched 63 yards in 11 plays, ate 5:12 off the clock — aided greatly by a pair of pass-interference calls against Seattle, at least one of which was iffy.
Prescott capped the drive with a one-yard run, and Dallas led 24-14 with 2:08 left.
Seattle didn’t quit, and took just 50 seconds to drive 75 yards in six plays to narrow the Cowboys’ lead to 24-22, after a successful two-point conversion with 1:18 left.
But Michael Dickson’s on-side kick attempt went way too far and the Cowboys’ Cole Beasley made an easy catch at the Dallas 32.
Seattle had no timeouts, so Prescott kneeled twice to run out the clock.
The only play people might remember from the first half occurred on the Cowboys’ second possession.
On a simple slant completion to the right, Cowboys wideout Allen Hurns had his left foot crunched — horribly — on the tackle by hard-charging Seattle strong safety Bradley McDougald. A moment afterward, Hurns lay on his back with both legs raised stiff into the air — only his left foot pointed in the wrong direction. Yeah, backward.
A horrific ankle/lower-leg injury.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott advances the ball to the one-yard line on a short run for the end zone as Seahawks’ Bradley McDougald makes the tackle in Arlington, Texas, last night.