It isn’t named the Wild Card round for nothing. Seattle, in a game that took the crowd of 68,058 on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, was able to outlast the gritty Dallas Cowboys for an improbable 21-20 victory, keeping the hopes of defending their NFC Championship alive for at least another week.
Through most of the first half, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and Cowboys QB Tony Romo appeared to be out-of-sync and both struggled to move their teams.
Even with Hasselbeck struggling, the game began on a positive note for Seattle as they took the opening kickoff straight down the field, but, like so many times this year, they failed to finish the drive as Hasselbeck’s third-down pass to WR Nate Burleson at the goal line was batted away by Cowboys CB Terrance Newman.
The Seahawks settled for a Josh Brown 23-yard field goal.
Dallas was unable to do anything with their first possession, but Hasselbeck’s pass to WR Deion Branch was intercepted by CB Anthony Henry at Seattle’s 43.
With excellent field position, the Cowboys appeared in good position to put a drive together, but after gaining a first down the drive stalled and they settle for a 50-yard Martin Gramatica field goal.
With the score tied 3-3 and early in the second quarter, Seattle proceeded to take the ball on a 13-play, 54-yard drive, but their drive stalled again and they settle for Brown’s second field goal of the day – a 30-yarder.
After the team’s traded punts, Dallas got the ball with 5:17 left in the first half and Romo proceeded to march the Cowboys down the field on a 10-play, 76-yard drive, ending when he hit WR Patrick Crayton over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown with only 11 seconds left on the clock.
Dallas got the ball first in the second half and were unable to generate much as DE Bryce Fisher knocked the ball out of Romo’s hand for his second sack of the game and it was recovered by RB Julius Jones on Dallas’ own four.
Seattle then took the ball and marched 62 yards in 12 plays and Hasselbeck was able to hit TE Jerramy Stevens for a 15-yard touchdown as the big tight end beat Cowboys safety Roy Williams to the pylon.
It didn’t take Dallas long to answer, as KR Miles Austin returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to put the Cowboys back in the lead 17-13.
After Gramatica was able to add another field goal, this one coming from 29 yards out, Seattle drove the ball all the way to Dallas’ one when Burleson was interfered with in the endzone by Newman.
Then it was time for the game to get a bit crazy. On Dallas’ first play Seattle rookie CB Kelly Jennings forced WR Terry Glenn to fumble and after a scramble the Seahawks appeared to recover the ball for a touchdown. However, upon review, replays showed that LB Lofa Tatupu’s foot was on the sideline in the endzone as he touched the ball and they were awarded a safety and a free kick.
Burleson, showing his value to the team as a return man, brought the ball back to midfield. After gaining a first down, Hasselbeck was able to find Stevens again for a 37-yard touchdown pass beating Williams again.
Seattle’s two-point conversion was unsuccessful and with 4:24 left on the clock, the hung to a precarious 21-20 lead.
Romo still had some magic left, driving the Cowboys from their own 28 to Seattle’s one. On 3rd-and-7 from Seattle’s eight, he hit TE Jason Witten for what appeared to be a first down and allowing Dallas to run the clock out before settling for another Gramatica field goal.
However, replay revealed that Witten was tackled by Tatupu short of the first down and the Cowboys then had to settle for a chip-shot field goal. But Romo bobbled the snap and after a scramble was tackled at Seattle’s two by CB Jordan Babineaux at Seattle’s two.
Taking the ball over on their own two with Dallas possessing three timeouts, the Seahawks had the daunting task of moving the ball without stopping the clock. On their first play, RB Shaun Alexander solved a lot of their problems with a 21-yard burst up the middle to Seattle’s 23.
After three more plays, Seattle punted and gave Dallas one more chance to win the game with :02 left on the clock. But Romo’s “Hail Mary” pass fell incomplete as time expired and Seattle came away with one of the zaniest victories in their 31-year history.
Now Seattle will watch Sunday’s games to know where they will head to play next weekend in the divisional playoff game. If the New York Giants beat Philadelphia, the Seahawks would go to New Orleans to face the Saints. If the Eagles win, Seattle then heads to Chicago to take on the Bears.