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Cowboys Win! Beat Seahawks 24-22

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates his first down near the goal line against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the NFC wild-card NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott saw an opening up the middle, then three defenders between him and the first down.

The Dallas quarterback found a way to get there, and get his first playoff victory two years after a sensational rookie season ended in disappointment.

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, Prescott scored on a sneak after his dazzling head-over-heels run and the Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.

The win for the Cowboys (11-6) was the first for Elliott and Prescott after losing a divisional game in their playoff debut as first-year stars two years ago. Dallas will play at either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend.

"It's really just a chance to keep going on, simple as that," Prescott said. "Me and this whole team, we want to win it all. You can't do that without taking care of the first one. A lot of excitement, but my goal is bigger than just one playoff win."

The loss ended a run of nine straight victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks (10-7). The Elias Sports Bureau says it was the longest streak in NFL history.

Leading 17-14, Prescott faced third-and-14 from the Seattle 17 with the 2-minute warning approaching. He took off up the middle on a QB draw, barged through a trio of defenders 6 yards short of the first and went down at the 1 when he was flipped head-first by Tedric Thompson.

Prescott, who also had an 11-yard scoring pass to Michael Gallup in the first half, scored on the next play in the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys.

"He's just a rare guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "His leadership, his toughness, just his way, his spirit. It's like none other. Somehow, some way, he's going to figure this thing out for us."

Dallas' defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, stifled the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense and mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games.

The Seahawks had finished the regular season with six wins in seven games to secure Wilson's sixth playoff trip in seven years despite a roster overhaul and 0-2 start.

"This has been a special, special year," Wilson said. "Just the growth of our team, the men in the locker room, just the way that we've played together, just eliminating the doubters and the things that people thought that we could only do."

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 his sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score because Dallas burned more than five minutes while taking 24-14 lead.

But Tyler Lockett's 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown — Wilson's 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic. The Seahawks got within two on their second 2-point conversion following an injury to Sebastian Janikowski.

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.

After Wilson ran for 4 yards for a touchdown and Mike Davis' 2-point conversion run put Seattle up 14-10 late in the third quarter, Prescott led a 67-yard drive to put the Cowboys back in front for good.

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 then 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 giving Elliott a highlight play before Prescott added his. The NFL rushing leader stiff-armed Shaquill Griffin on a 17-yard run to get inside the 20.

Seattle got a double dose of bad news at halftime when Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal on the final play and injured his left hamstring. He yelled as he grabbed the back of his leg and 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 fourth-and-5 in Janikowski's range from the Dallas 39, Doug Baldwin made a toe-dragging catch on the sideline for 22 yards. After Wilson's TD run, the Seahawks pushed their lead to 14-10 on Mike Davis' run.

But the Cowboys never did lose control of the Seattle running game after allowing Chris Carson's first career 100-yard game in a Week 3 Seattle win that turned the season for the Seahawks, who finished the regular season with six wins in seven games.

Carson had just 20 yards on 13 carries. Wilson was 18 of 27 for 233 yards, with Lockett getting four catches for 120 yards. The Seahawks had 73 yards rushing after averaging 160 during the season. Dallas came in with the No. 5 rushing defense.

"Once we go up, we do a pretty good job of getting ourselves back down, knowing that we've got to start over next week and we've got to be able to do it again," linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. "It's a full attack mode."

INJURIES

Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns fractured his left ankle in a gruesome first-quarter injury. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game that Hurns was "probably in surgery at this time." Hurns was being dragged down by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald at the end of a 14-yard catch for a first down when his lower left leg appeared to buckle. ... Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe left in the first half with a shoulder injury.

UP NEXT

Cowboys: New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the divisional round next weekend.

Cowboys stuff Seahawks' run in wild-card win; it's pass next

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The young Dallas defense stuffed the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense in a wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Now it's time for the Cowboys to take on either the league's all-time leader in yards passing in Drew Brees of New Orleans, or this year's fifth-best passing offense in Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams. The divisional round game will be next weekend.

A group now led by playmaking linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, rather than 2016 All-Pro Sean Lee, has been up to the challenge all season. And that included a 13-10 win over Brees that ended the Saints' 10-game winning streak.

"We've got to take the same mindset next week ... and not get too far ahead of ourselves," Vander Esch said. "We can be confident, but there's a difference between being confident and being overly, maybe I should say cocky, if you want to use that word. We do a pretty good job of bringing ourselves back down."

In a 24-22 win that ended what the Elias Sports Bureau said was the Seahawks' record streak of nine straight victories in playoff openers, the Cowboys held Seattle nearly 100 yards below its league-leading average of 160 yards Saturday night.

Chris Carson, who had his first career 100-yard game in a Week 3 win over Dallas that turned Seattle's season, was limited to a season-low 20 yards on 13 carries. The Seahawks finished with 73 yards rushing, and quarterback Russell Wilson's legs weren't the factor they often are.

"We take great pride in stopping the run, too," coach Jason Garrett said. "It's about discipline. It's about winning your gap. It's about setting the edge. It's about tackling. But it's also about physical and mental toughness. That's a really important part of our football team."

The Cowboys believe that applies to defending the pass as well. Although they sacked Brees just twice, there were five quarterback hits in one of his worst games of the season. Dallas has been a top-10 defense most of the season.

"The confidence is there, but it's all about being patient and executing," said defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who led the team in sacks for the second straight year with 10 1/2 and made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. "It doesn't matter about your confidence."

AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

The Seahawks won six of their last seven in the regular season to reach the playoffs a year after missing for the only time in Wilson's seven seasons. They overhauled the defense and lost one of the mainstays they decided to keep in disgruntled safety Earl Thomas, who broke his leg in Week 4. And they found Wilson a running game without a big name such as Marshawn Lynch.

"Nobody thought we were going to be here, so we're miles ahead of where expectations were," said coach Pete Carroll, who got a three-year extension through 2021 late in the regular season. "This doesn't mean anything to me because that's not my expectations."

COURTING A COACH

Dallas passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard, who took over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli this season, is expected to have a busy Sunday.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Miami owner Stephen Ross was one of his guests during the game, and that Ross would interview Richard for the team's vacant head coaching position before the former Seattle defensive coordinator starts preparations for the divisional round. The Jets are also expected to interview Richard, who was fired by the Seahawks after last season and hired by Dallas.

"There are no secrets in the NFL when it comes to people that can help you win football games," Jones said. "And he's a winner."

LAST KICK?

Sebastian Janikowski didn't play after injuring his hamstring while missing a 57-yard field goal try on the final play of the first half. The 40-year-old isn't under contract for next season, and Carroll figured he simply hurt himself trying to kick the ball as hard as he could.

The question is whether Seattle, or any other team, will want to take the risk after the Seahawks were left with no good options for an onside kick down two points with 1:18 left. Michael Dickson's drop-kick went too far and was an easy game-sealing catch for Dallas receiver Cole Beasley. Plus, it was the second time in the last three weeks of the season that Seattle had an injury issue with Janikowski.

LEANING ON ELLIOTT

NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott was the only skill position player to sit out Dallas' 36-35 win over the New York Giants in the regular-season finale with the Cowboys already locked in as the NFC's fourth seed. He was busy again in his return, with 26 carries for 137 yards and four catches for 32 yards. It was his fourth game of at least 30 touches this season. Expect a heavy load again in a week. "I'm glad I took the week off," he said. "We have bigger things."


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