Seahawks don't show '05 magic, but escape with win
Posted: Sunday January 7, 2007 2:08AM; Updated: Sunday January 7, 2007 2:08AM
SEATTLE -- At the precise moment that Tony Romo became Tony Oh, No! and 68,058 fans at Qwest Field roared with the gleeful abandon of triumphant game-show contestants, Matt Hasselbeck got a sick feeling in his stomach.
Having been a holder on field goals and extra points earlier in his career, the Seahawks' quarterback knew how horribly his Cowboys counterpart must be feeling as L.P. Ladoucer's perfect snap -- on what would have been a go-ahead 19-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining in Saturday night's first-round NFC playoff game -- slipped through Romo's hands.
Then, as Romo rose to his feet and darted to his left in search of the first-down marker (at the Seattle 1-yard-line) or, better yet, the end zone, Hasselbeck was the one overcome by dread.
"We had an all-out block on," Hasselbeck recalled. "If (Jordan) Babineaux doesn't make that play, he scores. That would've been a tough way to lose."
It would have been, in this weirdest of NFL seasons, the Emerald City Tremor -- not to mention the crowning touch on Romo's coronation as a full-fledged football phenomenon. But Babineaux, an unheralded safety playing cornerback because of a slew of Seattle injuries at the position, chased Romo from behind, dove at his heels and stopped him a couple of feet short of redemption.
Foiled in his attempt to make ahi tuna salad out of Chicken of the Sea (a joke his reputed romantic interest, Jessica Simpson, probably wouldn't appreciate), Romo instead had created a Tuna Nightmare.
Whether his gaffe, which facilitated the Seahawks' 21-20 victory, will help compel Bill (Tuna) Parcells to end his four-year run as Cowboys head coach (and, perhaps, his storied career) remains to be seen. What it did do was allow a Seattle team that has struggled to recapture the dominance it displayed in reaching its first Super Bowl last season another week of existence as defending conference champions.
The Seahawks, who'll face either top-seeded Chicago (if the Eagles beat the Giants Sunday) or second-seeded New Orleans (if New York wins) on the road in next weekend's divisional round, didn't play a pretty game on Saturday.
Then again, did we really expect them to? Seattle lost three consecutive games in December (getting swept by NFC West pursuer San Francisco in the process) and backed into a division title before closing a 9-7 regular season with a victory over the Bucs in Tampa. They've been the emblem of inconsistency in a conference devoid of a team that looks nearly as strong as Seattle did in 2005.