Cowboys defeat the Seahawks 24-22 in NFC Wild Card game
UPDATE: The Cowboys beat the Seahawks 24-22 in the NFC Wild Card game in Dallas on Saturday night.
DALLAS -- The Seahawks open up post season play on the road in Dallas Saturday night in primetime against the Cowboys. Last time these two teams met the Seahawks beat Dallas at Centurylink Field on September 23 of this season 24-13.
The last time the Cowboys and Seahawks met in the playoffs was January 6, 2007. The Cowboys could have taken a lead with a field goal in the final minute but Tony Romo mishandled a perfect snap, the ball got away from him and Jordan Babineaux worked his way into Seahawks history. It’s a play that Tony Romo has likely heard about plenty this week.
Here are 4 things to watch in Saturday Night's Wild Card Game
1) Chris Carson
Carson has emerged this season as one of the top running backs in the NFL and Saturday night, the former 7th round draft pick out of Oklahoma State will get his first taste of playoff football.
Carson is coming off an outstanding month of December where he finished out the regular season with 3 straight games with a 100 yards or more. In December alone, Carson ran for 516 yards and 5 touchdowns. This week Carson was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December.
The Seahawks will need Carson to be at his best Saturday night against a Cowboys defense that ranks 5th against the run this season. Carson has had a tremendous workload all season but he's not close to stopping now and he won't have to do it by himself. The Seahawks have shown an ability to wear down opposing defenses with their stable of talented running backs.
Coach Pete Carroll can't wait to see what Carson can do on the NFL's big stage.
"Well, he's raring to go again," said Carroll on Friday. "Here we are 18 weeks into it and he's really at the top of his game and feels great. The whole thought has been to continue to work guys in and play the position. It isn't on one guy to get it done, for obvious reasons, and it's worked out fine. He's in good shape, ready to go. I'm fired up about him. Rashaad Penny is back too and Mike Davis is ready to go and JD McKissic is there too, so we're in good shape at that position."
2) Veterans Leading the Way
Russell Wilson has been here before, all the way to a couple Super Bowls, so he knows very well how the intensity gets kicked up a notch in the postseason. Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright have been there plenty of times before too with Wilson and the veterans have been leading the way this week.
A number of young Seahawks players on the roster will be making their postseason debuts Saturday and the veterans will be sharing what they know as the playoff game approaches.
"We definitely make sure that it's important that we share that and what it looks like," Wilson said this week. "We've had guys that have won a Super Bowl before and been to two. We have guys that have been to playoff games before, big moments, guys who have been the best in the world at what they do. We share that and we embrace that. We don't shy away from that moment. We want to express the significance of how we prepare, and that doesn't start today or this week. That started a long time ago. That started, really, in April of this past year in 2018. We really speak that way all year, so it's the same language."
While the Seahawks have Chris Carson, the Dallas Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is the NFL's leading rusher with 1,434 yards this season. He has power and elusiveness and he can punish would be tacklers.
In the loss to the Seahawks back in September, Elliott had a good day running for 127 yards on 16 carries. Elliott didn't play in the Cowboys regular season finale against the Giants for no reason other than getting some rest. No doubt Elliott will be well rested and ready to go against the Seahawks Saturday night and they'll be ready for him.
"Zeke is Zeke running the rock really, really hard," Bobby Wagner said this week, "It’s kind of what we did last time. They’re going to try to establish the run game to open up the passing game so we’ve got to do our jobs, make sure we stop them and we will.”
While the Cowboys are ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing defense giving up 3.8 yards per rushing attempt and 94.6 yards a game, the Seahawks are ranked 13th giving up 4.9 yards per rushing attempt and 113 yards a game. It's clear this game is going to be won or lost in the trenches. Good old fashioned football.
4) The Road
Winning a playoff game on the road is hard, especially on a short week.
The Seahawks have not been great on the road this season but they've been average. They're 4-4 away from CenturyLink Field this year, but in most sports going .500 on the road is usually the goal.
The Seahawks won't have the home crowd but there will be plenty of Seattle fans in Dallas, Seahawks fans show up regardless of where they play, even London.
One thing about Jerry's World where the Seahawks will play Saturday is it is so big and there are so many distractions. The giant video monitors above the field suck you in like the internet and the crowd isn't overwhelming like it can be in Kansas City or Denver, though there are a lot of Cowboy fans.
Carroll summed it up best when he was asked about the Cowboys Stadium Friday. It is hands down the best description of the place I have heard:
"I think their scoreboard may get in the way of the sound; bounces back at you or something, I don't know. It's a real glitzy place, you know. When you come out of a football locker room ready to play football and you go into a night club... it's kind of like we're in the club, then wait a minute, you've got to play ball. Then you come back through the club and they're all... anyways, it's unusual. Then they're right there with you too. Those people that are sitting behind us, I don't know how they see the game. It doesn't look like they care, they're having such a good time. It's an unusual place."
There are suites at field level behind the visitors bench. They are loaded with bars and drinks and couches and big screen TV's but honestly people that watch the game from the suites behind the bench are staring at the backs of players. I don't get it. I will say this, the stadium staff in Dallas are some of the nicest in the NFL.