Bobble by Romo cost Dallas win
It came on a 19-yard field goal attempt in the final minutes of play.
SEATTLE (AP) -- All Tony Romo had to do was put the ball down and let Martin Gramatica make an easy kick -- just 19 yards, even closer than an extra point.
That's where it all slipped away from the Dallas Cowboys. The Pro Bowl quarterback who saved their season ended it, too.
Romo's bobble on the field-goal try with 1:19 left led to a scramble that ended 2 yards shy of the end zone and a yard short of a first down, preserving a 21-20 victory for the Seattle Seahawks in the wildest of wild-card games Saturday night.
"You coach long enough, you end up seeing just about everything," Seattle's Mike Holmgren said. "One more thing for the journal."
And one moment Dallas coach Bill Parcells would rather forget after coming oh-so-close to his first playoff win since 1998 and the Cowboys' first postseason victory since 1996.
"It was just one of those things," Parcells said. "It looked like a good snap. I can't tell you what happened after that. We're an extra point from being down to the eight teams left. That's what's the hardest thing."
Led season turnaround
Romo was a big reason the Cowboys even made it this far, having turned their season around by winning five of his first six starts after replacing Drew Bledsoe and blossoming into a Pro Bowler.
That was little comfort after Romo's last-second heave fell incomplete. He walked off the field briskly, head down, and was choked up during a postgame interview. In the locker room, he sat on a chair facing his locker, his shoulders hunched.
"I know how hard everyone in that locker room worked to get themselves in position to win that game today and for it to end like that, and for me to be the cause is very tough to swallow right now," Romo said. "I take responsibility for messing up at the end there. That's my fault. I cost the Dallas Cowboys a playoff win, and it's going to sit with me a long time."
Gramatica was supposed to cap a thrilling rally by Dallas.
After protecting a 20-13 lead with a stop by the defense, the Cowboys fell behind when Terry Glenn's fumble turned into a safety and Seattle followed with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy Stevens. But with Dallas down a point and 4:24 left, Romo drove the Cowboys right back down the field and into position for the win.
He moved the Cowboys from their 28 to the Seattle 2, where a pass to Jason Witten was initially ruled a first down before a replay showed the Cowboys were short. Parcells seemed tempted to go for it on fourth-and-1, leaving his offense on the field until Seattle called a timeout. Then he sent in Gramatica, the late-season replacement for Mike Vanderjagt who'd already made the coach look good by hitting from 50 and 29 yards.
Romo -- who has been holding on kicks since last season, long before he ever threw a pass in the NFL -- caught the snap cleanly but fumbled the ball as he tried to place it down.
Gramatica never swung his leg, instead forced to get out of the way as Romo picked up the ball and darted left to try to make up for his mistake.
He never reached the end zone -- or even the first-down marker. Romo was stopped at the 2 on a shoestring tackle by Jordan Babineaux, whose last-minute interception set up Seattle's game-winning kick the last time Dallas played here.
"I just tried to walk him down," Babineaux said. "I grabbed him by the ankles, saved the tackle. It was very huge."
Holmgren already was thinking about what plays the Seahawks would try on their last drive. Shaun Alexander was talking to receiver Deion Branch about only needing to get within kicker Josh Brown's range.
"We're giving the plan for how we can get to the 35 so Josh can make it," Alexander said. "Then, at the last second, I said, 'What if he misses it? Deion was like, 'Don't even say that. Why even say that?"'
Hasselbeck was 18-of-36 for 240 yards with two touchdowns, both to Stevens, and two interceptions, both of which resulted in Dallas field goals.
Alexander ran 24 times for 69 yards. His 20-yard burst at the end was his longest of the game.
Romo was 17-of-29 for 189 yards and a touchdown. He didn't have any turnovers after a spurt of them in recent weeks, although he did fumble once. And, of course, there was the botched hold that mattered most.
"It was perfect," Alexander quipped.
"Just how we planned it."
Dallas is 0-5 in the playoffs since winning a wild-card game at Minnesota on Dec. 28, 1996. The Cowboys had never lost more than three straight postseason games.
Parcells had never even lost two straight playoff games before this 0-3 drought.
In 2003, his first year in Dallas, he became the only coach to guide four teams into the playoffs, but another loss kept him from upping that mark to the only coach to win playoff games with four clubs.
"I did the best I could," Parcells said. "It wasn't quite good enough."
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