The Seahawks stayed in this one until the very end. But ultimately, they had no answer for the Cowboys' potent combo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
There were moments in this entertaining NFC wild-card game when it appeared as if the Seahawks might turn the corner, make a big play, mount a furious rally and silence the Dallas Cowboys.
But in a game that saw four lead changes, Dallas’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns ultimately proved too much for the Seahawks to overcome.
The Cowboys won 24-22 at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night to eliminate Seattle from the postseason.
Here’s what the national media had to say about that.
NFL.com’s Herbie Teope says the secret to the Cowboys’ success lies in how they stuffed the Seahawks’ running backs. It didn’t help that Seattle refused to push for points through the air.
The Cowboys’ defense proved to be the most consistent unit on the team throughout the season and it once again stepped to the plate in a game of strength against strength. The Seahawks’ rushing attack finished the regular season ranked first in the NFL (160 yards per game) and squared off in a heavyweight fight against the Cowboys’ fifth-ranked run defense, which is anchored by linebackers Jaylon Smith and rookie Leighton Vander Esch. The Dallas defenders beat Seattle to the punch early and often in the game, and provided the knockout blow by holding Seattle’s vaunted ground game to a mere 73 yards. Seahawks running back Chris Carson, who rushed for 102 yards against the Cowboys in Week 3, found the going tough Saturday. The Cowboys defense swarmed the line of scrimmage, limiting Carson to 20 yards rushing on 13 carries. … Despite the ground game struggling, Seattle attempted to stay true to its identity by running the football throughout the contest. It came at a cost, though, as six of the Seahawks’ 12 possessions resulted in three-and-outs, including the team’s first three possessions. The Seahawks would finish the game with a miserable third-down conversion rate, going 2 of 13 (15 percent), which contributed to Dallas dominating time of possession (34:50-25:10).
The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins says losing Sebastian Janikowski to a thigh injury in the second quarter forced the Seahawks’ hand in the fourth.
The loss of their kicker to a leg injury turned the Seattle Seahawks into gamblers by necessity, go-for-brokers. And that might have broken the Dallas Cowboys in their NFC first-round meeting. But this is an entirely different Cowboys outfit than the overpromising, underachieving one the NFL has known so well lately. These Cowboys have as much grit as glamour, and they are in the divisional round after a 24-22 victory over the Seahawks on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium. … They’ve got a defense that is among the best in the league, a pure bully in running back Ezekiel Elliott and a young fury of a quarterback in Dak Prescott, whose decisive one-yard scoring run with 2:08 to go came just after he practically cartwheeled into the end zone to cap a 16-yard scamper on third and 14. It ate up what little realistic hope the Seahawks still had, after being largely manhandled for most of the night and losing kicker Sebastian Janikowski to an apparent muscle strain at the end of the first half.
CBSSports.com’s John Breech says Ezekiel Elliott’s hard running powered the Cowboys to this big playoff win, but the Seahawks didn’t do themselves any favors.
To pick up their first playoff win in four years, the Cowboys did what they they’ve done a lot of this season: They fed Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott, who finished 2018 as the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,434 yards, slowly wore down the Seahawks defense on a night where he carried the ball 26 times for 137 yards and a touchdown. Elliott tends to shine in the fourth quarter, and that’s exactly what he did against Seattle. With just 7:20 left to play and the Cowboys clinging to a 17-14 lead, Dallas needed to put together a time-consuming drive, and so they decided to feed Zeke. On an 11-play drive that ran 5:12 off the clock and essentially iced the game, Elliott carried the ball five times for 31 yards. The Seahawks could only watch as precious seconds ticked away after each one of Elliott’s carries. … Elliott’s performance on the drive set up Dak Prescott for a one-yard score that proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson says Janikowski’s exit forced the Seahawks to go to a backup plan
With Janikowski out, the Seahawks attempted successful two-point tries on their only two touchdowns of the second half and had rookie punter Michael Dickson handle the ensuing kickoffs. They converted a fourth-and-5 from the Dallas 39-yard line before the first of those two scores — a Russell Wilson 4-yard touchdown run — though they might have been in four-down territory there even with a healthy Janikowski. … Carroll said Janikowski’s absence forced Seattle to adjust its playcalling with an eye towards avoiding field goal situations. “Absolutely. We had to change. We were in a different mode,” Carroll said. “We were still ready to kick a field goal if we had to, but we were going to do what we could to avoid that and not make that the issue.”
ESPN’s Henderson also says this season showed the Seahawks are ready to compete again.
The Seahawks far exceeded outside expectations after an offseason roster retooling and a few serious injuries claimed some of the most impactful players in franchise history. They were hardly devoid of talent as some of the more pessimistic projections seemed to assume, but getting 10 wins and a playoff appearance qualifies as a significant accomplishment after losing or moving on from the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, Jimmy Graham, Earl Thomas and others. If the only positive development to come out of this season was the emergence of the next group of core players, 2018 would have felt like a success even in the absence of a playoff berth. The Seahawks got both.
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News says that from the Dallas perspective, you can’t overstate the significance of the Cowboys’ win over Seattle.
You can’t keep saying the Cowboys have two special players in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott if you don’t start to win games like Saturday night. Jason Garrett can’t tell owner Jerry Jones this team is trending in the right direction if three seasons deep into the careers of these two young stars the franchise has no playoff wins. … The youngest team in the NFL playoffs went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the conference over the last seven seasons and didn’t blink. True, the Seahawks are a team in transition, not the proud Super Bowl champion of a few years ago. But the way Dallas advanced to next week’s divisional round to face either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams speaks volumes. It was Prescott and Elliott who took control in the fourth quarter to turn a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead. The Seahawks did get a late touchdown and two-point conversion, but the damage was done.
NFL teams ran less in 2018 than any other season in NFL history. Rushing attempts per team per game dipped below 26 for the first time since at least 1936, when stats started being tracked. Meanwhile, teams also scored 23.3 points and gained 352.2 yards per team per game, the second-highest mark of all time for each category. These two stats are related. Passing is more efficient than running, and the entire NFL is running less and scoring more. …You’d never know it from watching the Seahawks, who fell to the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 on Saturday night because of a stunningly conservative game plan. Head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer stuck to the run despite MVP-caliber quarterback Russell Wilson idling in the backfield like an unused getaway Ferrari in a bank robbery. Seattle followed up its only playoff-less season of Russell Wilson’s career in 2017 with something worse in 2018: a playoff loss that could have been a win had the Seahawks bothered to let Wilson play quarterback.
Also in The Ringer, Riley McAtee delivers the Seahawks’ 2018 exit interview.
The Seahawks outperformed preseason expectations but ultimately fell short against the Cowboys because of an overly conservative game plan. Now, the team faces a future in which they may already have to retool the post–Legion of Boom defense.
Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson says this win over Seattle was a moment of vindication for Cowboys GM Jerry Jones and HC Jason Garrett.
After four long years with nothing to show for all the angst and hundreds of millions in salaries spent, the Dallas Cowboys got vindication for a moment. Jerry Jones will take it and sleep well for a night. … He’ll take it after all the postgame miseries the past four years, when the Cowboys owner awoke to his seasonal media guillotine. He’ll take it after the offseasons he was denounced for either being frustratingly passive or nonsensically aggressive. He’ll take it for the fading glories and missed opportunities that left him beaten in so many Januarys. He’ll take it because he doesn’t have many of these campaigns left, something that hit home hard when friend and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair died in November. … But maybe more than anything, he’ll take it for some simple vindication for himself and head coach Jason Garrett, two men who have clung together through nearly a decade of seasons that ended in bankruptcy.
(Janikowski’s) injury played a huge role for bettors as the game drew to a close. … Seattle was down 24–14 with under two minutes to play when Russell Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett to move the ball downfield. The Seahawks scored a touchdown on fourth down and then converted on the two-point attempt after deciding not to go with Dickson on the extra point. … The Cowboys closed as 2.5-point favorites, and Cowboys bettors everywhere were cursing their luck. The total closed at 43.5, so Wilson’s last-minute TD throw to J.D. McKissic also caused chaos on that front in Vegas.