ARLINGTON, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Dallas Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 win over the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC wild-card game Saturday.
The playoff win by the Cowboys was the first for Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott on their second try after losing a divisional game as rookies two years ago. Dallas will play the New Orleans Saints or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend.
The loss ended a run of nine victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks. The Elias Sports Bureau said it was the longest streak in NFL history.
Dallas’ defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games.
“Our defense was great,” Prescott said. “They keep us in every game.”
It was the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys.
“We had so much confidence coming it this game and our confidence remains,” Prescott said. “It’s all about the way we fought. … I’m proud of my guys.”
Prescott, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when the Cowboys lost to Green Bay at home as the top seed in the NFC, threw for 226 yards and had a 1-yard sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score before Tyler Lockett’s 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown.
Wilson’s 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic got the Seahawks within four, and they made it a two-point game on their second two-point conversion following an injury to kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
But the missing kicker left the Seahawks no good options on an onside kick with 1:18 remaining. Punter Michael Dickson’s drop kick was caught by Cole Beasley at the Dallas 31, sealing the first playoff win for the Cowboys since beating Detroit in the wild-card round in the 2014 season.
Prescott led a 67-yard drive to put the Cowboys in front. A 34-yard pass to Amari Cooper, who had seven catches for 106 yards, led to Elliott’s 1-yard plunge after an apparent touchdown by the quarterback was overturned on replay.
Prescott had a chance to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead, but K.J. Wright made a juggling interception in the end zone.
Dallas’ defense came through again, though, forcing a punt and setting the stage for Elliott and Prescott to produce a highlight play apiece on a drive to Prescott’s 1-yard sneak for a 24-14 lead with 2:08 remaining.
Seattle got a double dose of bad news just before halftime. As Janikowski’s 57-yard field-goal attempt was sailing wide ride on the final play, the kicker yelled as he grabbed the back of his leg. He limped to the locker room, unable to return.
Still, the Seahawks took their first lead basically because the 40-year-old’s injury forced them to try.
Facing 4th-and-5 in Janikowski’s range from the Dallas 39, Doug Baldwin made a toe-dragging catch on the sideline for a 22-yard gain. After Wilson ran 4 yards for a touchdown, the Seahawks went for two, pushing the lead to 14-10 on Mike Davis’ run.
Seattle’s Chris Carson had just 20 yards on 13 carries. Wilson was 18-for-27 for 233 yards, with Lockett getting four catches for 120 yards.
Schuyler Dixon is an Assoxiated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Dallas-edges-Seattle-in-the-NFC-wild-card-matchup-13511740.php.