Dak Prescott rallied the Dallas Cowboys to an NFL playoff victory over Seattle on Saturday while Andrew Luck powered the Indianapolis Colts into the second round with a victory at Houston.
Prescott threw for 226 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as the Cowboys edged visiting Seattle 24-22 while Luck had two touchdown passes in the Colts’ 21-7 triumph over the Texans.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 137 yards and a touchdown for Dallas as the Cowboys advanced to a second-round National Conference playoff game next weekend against either top seed New Orleans or the second-seeded Los Angeles Rams.
Dallas needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns and the best rushing day against the Seahawks by any club this season to subdue Seattle.
“This team, everything we’ve been through, we had so much confidence coming into this game and the confidence remains,” Prescott said. “It’s about how we compete against adversity and we just take off.”
Prescott praised Elliott’s punishing effort, saying, “He’s a hell of a player and he always wants the ball. I’m thankful I have him.”
Sunday’s final first-round playoff matchups find defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia at Chicago and the Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore.
A Chicago win sends the Bears to face the Rams and Dallas to New Orleans. If the Eagles advance, they would travel to top seed New Orleans and the Rams would host the Cowboys.
In the American Conference playoff opener, Luck completed 19 of 32 passes for 222 yards while Marlon Mack ran 24 times for 148 yards and a touchdown.
Indy’s defensive unit snuffed out a late rally bid by the Texans and the Colts advanced to a second-round game next Saturday at the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.
“We get another one next week and that excites me,” Luck said. “It’ll be fun. That’s a great team. It should be a great game.”
The Saints, Rams, Chiefs and New England Patriots — who face the Baltimore-Chargers winner — had first-round byes and will host second-round playoff games next weekend.
Prescott’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup with 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave Dallas a 10-6 half-time lead.
Brett Maher kicked a 39-yard field goal for Dallas and Sebastian Janikowski answered for Seattle from 27 and 42 yards but hurt his left leg on a 57-yard miss to end the first half, forcing the Seahawks to chase touchdowns and 2-point conversions in the second half.
The Cowboys suffered a setback when receiver Allen Hurns received a gruesome left ankle injury in the first quarter after a 14-yard reception and did not return.
Seattle seized the lead on Russell Wilson’s 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and Mike Davis ran in a 2-point conversion.
Dallas reclaimed the lead 17-14 on Elliott’s 1-yard touchdown plunge with 12:28 remaining and Prescott scored on a 1-yard run with 2:08 remaining for a 24-14 Cowboys edge.
Wilson connected with J.D. McKissic on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 78 seconds remaining and a 2-point run put Seattle within the final margin but Dallas recovered a poor onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
At Houston, Luck flipped a 6-yard touchdown toss to Eric Ebron and an 18-yard TD pass to Dontrelle Inman while Mack scored on a 2-yard run as the Colts leapt ahead 21-0 at half-time.
“We were on the details,” Luck said. “We played disciplined. We made plays.”
Mack’s effort was the first 100-yard run performance allowed by Houston all season.
“Our guys up front just kept plugging away and Marlon took a couple of those and just shimmied and to finish it out that way was really great,” Luck said.
Houston finally cracked the Colts’ defence with 10:57 remaining in the fourth quarter as Watson made a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keke Coutee.
But the Texans turned over the ball on fourth down on the Colts 24-yard line on their next drive and Indianapolis secured their 10th victory in 11 games.
The Colts became only the third NFL team to start 1-5 and reach the playoffs, going 9-1 to close the regular season, while the Texans were the first NFL playoff team in 20 years to start the NFL season 0-3.
“Very tough. It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating,” Texans defender J.J. Watt said.
“Got to give the Colts a lot of credit the way they played today from the first quarter. We didn’t do enough to win today and it sucks.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Michael Corry)