ARLINGTON, Texas — Big D stands for defense in Dallas, where the Cowboys are rapidly developing a new version of Doomsday.
The Seahawks entered Saturday’s NFC wild-card game with the league’s top rushing offense, averaging 160 yards a game on the ground. They managed just 73 yards against the Cowboys, who captured a 24-22 victory to advance to next week’s divisional round.
The game figured to be a matchup between Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing, against the Seahawks’ running back by committee led by Chris Carson. Elliott beat the committee, rushing for 137 yards on 26 carries while Rashaad Penny led the Seahawks with 29 yards on four carries. Carson, who had posted three 100-yard rushing games against the Cowboys in the past, had just 20 yards on 13 carries.
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“We take great pride in stopping the run,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s about discipline, it’s about winning your gap, it’s about setting edges, 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 also did a good job of containing quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the best scramblers in the league. Wilson had just 14 yards on three carries. Seattle was held under 100 yards rushing in a game just three times during the regular season, and two of those games came in the first two weeks.
“We knew they were going to want to run the football in a lot of different ways,” Garrett said. “Somehow we had to stop them.”
Both teams had their mental toughness tested when Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns suffered a gruesome ankle injury while catching a 14-yard pass from Wilson at 7:14 of the first quarter. He was eventually carted off the field, but it took time for players and fans to get back into the rhythm of the game.
“Hurns is one of the best teammates we’ve ever had, so when you see him go down like that, it hurts,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “You keep him in your mind the whole game, knowing he would be giving his all if he were in the game. He’s one of the most underrated players on our team. Our prayers are with him.”
The Seahawks lost kicker Sebastian Janikowski to injury at the end of the first half. Janikowski injured himself attempting a 57-yard field goal that fell short and wide. But the attempt proved disastrous when Janikowski aggravated an old thigh injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. It made little difference as the Seahawks twice converted the 2-point conversions on their second-half touchdowns.
Garrett said it doesn’t matter whether the Cowboys play the Saints or the Rams.
“We just focus on what this team needs to do,” he said. “We don’t know who the next opponent is, so the biggest thing we can do is focus on ourselves.”