NFC Wild Card: Seattle Seahawks face off against Dallas Cowboys

Jan. 4 (UPI) — Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks take the NFL’s No. 1 running game into a wild-card matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.

Seattle (10-6) started the season with a 0-2 record after losses to the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. The Seahawks reversed course after a 24-13 victory over the Cowboys on Sept. 23.

The success of Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense resulted after a switch to a run-heavy offense following the team’s slow start. Seattle ran 16 times for 64 yards in Week 1 and 22 times for 74 yards the next week.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll emphasized to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer the need for more running attempts, and the outcome was Seattle leading the league in rushing yards per game (160.0). They finished second in rushing attempts (534), fifth in yards per carry (4.8) and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground.

Likewise, the Cowboys’ rushing attack thrived behind star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing attempts (439) and yards per game (122.7).

Elliott paced the Cowboys’ ground game with an NFL-leading 1,434 yards and six rushing scores.

“We’re feeling great,” Elliott told reporters. “I believe we have the best defense in football and a pretty good offense, a lot of weapons. I think we have the right recipe to make some noise.”

Wilson won a wild-card game against the Washington Redskins as a rookie in 2012, a title in Super Bowl XLVIII the next year and an additional conference title in his third season.

Since then, the Seahawks quarterback has struggled to make it past the divisional round. Seattle lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, and missed the postseason entirely in 2017.

Now, Wilson hopes to get the Seahawks back on schedule.

“The great thing about this team is the fact that everybody was telling us we couldn’t,” Wilson said to reporters. “It shows the heart of this team and it shows the mindset of this team to be able to think the way that you want to think and the places that you want to go. To think big, to believe big.”

The Seahawks have won six consecutive wild-card games, but lost every game in the divisional round.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is 0-1 in postseason play since he entered the league in 2016. His lone playoff game was a 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.

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