American Football: Romo horror show brings play-off woe for Cowboys

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The Independent Online

The beleaguered defense of the Indianapolis Colts bailed out a sloppy Peyton Manning as the inept Kansas City Chiefs were brushed aside 23-8 in the NFL playoffs on Saturday.

For most of the game, the Indianapolis defence was so good - or Kansas City's offense was so bad - that Manning's miscues didn't stop the AFC South division champions from advancing to the next round against the Ravens in Baltimore, the city the Colts left 23 years ago.

While Manning was throwing three interceptions and looking tentative, Chiefs stars Larry Johnson and Trent Green were practically invisible.

Kansas City's offensive line, expected to dominate a defence that yielded 173 yards rushing per game this season, got overrun. Green was sacked four times and had two interceptions. Johnson, who rushed for 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, had only 32 yards on 13 carries. The Chiefs' initial first down came with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Adam Viniatieri made three field goals and rookie Joseph Addai rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown for the Colts, who built a 16-0 lead. With Manning unable to throw deep, Indianapolis gave Kansas City a steady dose of short passes that wore out the Chiefs.

That was most evident after Kansas City finally woke up and drove 60 yards to a 6-yard touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez with 8 seconds remaining in the third period. Then the Colts went 71 yards on nine plays, mostly victimizing the Chiefs' linebackers underneath. Reggie Wayne caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-8.

Even though Manning's favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison, also had little impact, tight end Dallas Clark, in just his second game back from a knee injury, had nine catches for 103 yards.

Manning was 30-of-38 for 268 yards, with a vast majority of the completions on short throws.

The Chiefs haven't won a playoffs game in 13 years.

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20

At Seattle, all Tony Romo had to do was put the ball down and let Martin Gramatica make a short kick. He couldn't do it - and the Seattle Seahawks are still alive in the NFL playoffs.

Romo's botched hold on a 19-yard field goal try with 1:19 left forced the Pro Bowl quarterback to scramble left, but he was tackled at the 2 and the Seahawks escaped with a 21-20 victory in the wildest of wild-card games Saturday night.

Seattle trailed 20-13 after getting stopped on fourth-and-goal with about 6:40 to go, but rallied thanks to a Dallas fumble-turned-safety on the next snap and a 37-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy Stevens on the ensuing drive.

Romo moved the Cowboys from their 28 to the Seattle 2 on a pass to Jason Witten that initially was ruled a first down before a replay showed the Cowboys were short. Dallas still had its offense on the field after being told it was fourth down, then sent in Gramatica - who already had made kicks of 50 and 29 yards - to win it.

At least, that was the plan.

Romo was stopped on a shoestring tackle by Jordan Babineaux. The Seahawks still had to get away from the shadow of their goal line to protect the victory, but did so right away with Shaun Alexander running through the middle for 20 yards.

Seattle milked the clock to 8 seconds before a punt that gave Dallas one last chance from the 50.

Romo scrambled, weaving right then left, and heaved it into the end zone. The ball bounced away, with Terrell Owens among the Cowboys who failed to grab it.

The Cowboys remain without a playoff win since 1996. They're 0-for-2 under Parcells and might have played their last game for him. If so, his four-year tenure would end with three straight losses and four in his last five games.

Seattle will play on the road next weekend, the foe determined by the Philadelphia-New York Giants game Sunday. If the Eagles win, the Seahawks play at Chicago. If the Giants win, the Seahawks play at New Orleans.

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