Cowboys edge Seahawks in wild-card game
The Dallas Cowboys gained some serious momentum with a 24-22 win over the Seattle Seahawks in their wild-card game on Saturday.
Dallas got off to a rough start this season, but bounced back in a major way to win the NFC East.
While they won seven of their last 10 regular-season games, many doubted they could have postseason success.
Nevertheless, they managed to beat Seattle to advance in the postseason.
Third down struggles
Third down conversions matter. In games like this, they matter even more, as one failed conversion attempt could end a season. Neither Dallas nor Seattle were impressive when it came to this, but the Cowboys were a little better, converting four of their 11 attempts. The Seahawks only converted two of their 12 and it led to their downfall.
Pounding the rock
Dallas have proven to be close to unstoppable when Ezekiel Elliott gets more than 20 carries. He rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 26 rushes against the Seahawks. The Cowboys rested him in week 17, and he looked fresh and energised for the entirety of the game. No Seattle player surpassed 30 rushing yards, making the offense stagnant at times.
Both sides suffered critical injuries in this matchup. Dallas carried six receivers into Saturday's game. Cole Beasley was hobbled by a minor injury early on, and Allen Hurns suffered what seemed to be a serious season-ending lower-leg injury. Dallas rallied around the loss of Hurns by leaning on the rushing game and the dynamic talent of Amari Cooper, who caught seven passes for 106 yards. Sebastian Janikowski was ruled out for the game with a thigh injury he suffered attempting to kick a field goal just before half-time. The backup kicker, Michael Dickson, had little experience kicking field goals. He did not seem comfortable kicking them the normal way, as the Australian is more used to drop kicking. Seattle were able to make it a two-point game with little more than a minute remaining, but Dickson could not execute an onside kick. Instead, he opted for a failed pooch kick that was easily received by the opposition. From there, it was easy for Dallas to run the clock out.
Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson put together similar performances. Prescott threw for 226 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball in for a score to clinch the game in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson threw for 233 yards and a score himself, but Prescott's weapons were more effective.
The Cowboys do not have an easy road ahead. Their next opponent will be the Los Angeles Rams, the NFC's second-ranked team. Nevertheless, Dallas will celebrate the excitement that comes with this first victory for now. The Rams will be waiting for them in Los Angeles on January 12.