Other than the sight of Allen Hurns’ poor left foot, you watched the game you expected with the result maybe you did not.
The Dallas Cowboys are about glitz, money and glamour but this version of America’s Team is all about ugly with a beautiful running back, and a defense good enough to win a Super Bowl.
The Cowboys are going back to the NFC Divisional Round for the second time in three years with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback thanks to a beautifully ugly 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night at Jerry’s Club.
Dallas advances to the NFC Divisional round for the second time in three seasons; if the Bears defeat the Eagles on Sunday in Chicago, the Cowboys will play the Saints in New Orleans.
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If the Eagles win, the Cowboys go to L.A. where they will play (and defeat) the Rams.
Saturday night’s game was perfectly set up for the Cowboys to blow this and go home, and blame offensive coordinator Scott Linehan for the whole disappointing finish.
Linehan may yet meet an offseason guillotine, although that would be a shock, but Saturday night guarantees that Jerry Jones has his proof he’s doing it right.
With the Cowboys’ leading 17-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, they faced a 3rd-and-14. They had just eaten up more than five minutes off the clock, and played well enough to win, but this still had the feeling that it could all go south.
A field goal would give Seattle a chance, and its quarterback who, on a few maddeningly brilliant plays on Saturday, dropped in passes from heaven to receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin.
Although the Seahawks were without starting kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who had to leave because of an injury, no one outside of the Northwest wanted to see Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson with the ball and two minutes remaining with a chance to win.
Because of the two quarterbacks in this one, Wilson was expected to be the difference with plays to win late.
Instead, Dak made the play.
His 16-yard run down to the 1-yard line pretty much ended it. The play was almost an accident as the call was designed to just kill clock, but he made the play.
Dak didn’t extend his middle finger at any detractor after the game-sealing run, but he was entitled.
He scored on the next play.
Whatever you think of Dak, he balled against a good defense with top tier linebackers. He made plays to win.
Whatever you think of Dak, he wins. He just beat Russell Wilson in a playoff game, and it was not luck.
Dak was 22 of 33 for 226 yards with a touchdown pass, a touchdown run, and one fourth-quarter interception that was equally on him, his receiver ... and the playcaller.
Speaking of ballers, no one offensively was better than Zeke Elliott.
He ran 26 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, and was the player the Cowboys need in order to beat Seattle. And the Saints, and Rams, etc.
This was the same team that could not move the ball a fraction of a decimal point in their Week 3 loss in Seattle.
The whole thing worked on Saturday night on a big stage against a good team. This was not some “big win” over a 5-win New York Giants team in Week 17.
This was a playoff win against a good team, with a good QB that has been here and done all of this before.
Against the Cowboys’ defense, neither could do much.
Seattle entered the game with the league’s best rushing offense. On Saturday night, the Seahawks were limited to 73 yards on 24 carries.
The Cowboys’ defensive line, and linebacker Jaylon Smith, were so good that Seattle could not call the game it wanted.
It all worked so well the Cowboys are going to the NFC Divisional Round, and will serve as proof that Jerry got this thing right.