Cowboys edge Seahawks 24-22; Colts handle Texans 21-7
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — 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 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
The playoff win by the Cowboys (11-6) 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 either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend.
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.
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.
It was the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys.
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 2-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.
COLTS 21, TEXANS 7
HOUSTON (AP) — Andrew Luck threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and Indianapolis raced out to a big lead and cruised over Houston in the wild-card game.
Luck put on a show in his hometown, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help the Colts (11-6) build a 21-0 lead.
Running back Marlon Mack had 148 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis, which advances to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round next weekend.
Houston (11-6), which overcame a 0-3 start to win the AFC South, gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half to fall into the huge hole.
Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in a disappointing playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.
The Colts, who opened the season 1-5, continued an impressive run by winning their fifth straight and for the 10th time in 11 games. Saturday was their first playoff appearance since the AFC championship game loss at New England in the “Deflategate” game in the 2014 season.