Dallas' rally from 20-7 down in the second half to beat Detroit today -- with the mammoth help of a pass-interference flag on the Cowboys late that officials picked up and waved off -- means the NFC West-champion Seahawks (12-4) will host the NFC South-champion Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) Saturday at 5:15 p.m. in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Dallas at Green Bay on Sunday will be the other conference semifinal game.
Carolina -- once considered finished after going 64 days between wins earlier this season -- won its fifth consecutive game on Saturday 27-16 over Arizona at home in the wild-card round. The Panthers held the Cardinals and third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley to 78 total yards, the lowest total for an offense in NFL postseason history.
This will be the fifth time in five seasons the Seahawks and Panthers have played. Three of the other four were in Charlotte, N.C. Seattle has beaten Carolina in each of the last three regular seasons, and those games have all been defensive and mistake-filled slogs; the scores have been 16-12, 12-7 and 13-9.
The last of those Seahawks escapes was in Week 8 of this season, Oct. 26 in Charlotte. Russell Wilson issued a proclamation in the huddle -- then ran for 21 yards and completed all four of his throws for 53 yards on the game-winning drive. His 23-yard pass to tight end Luke Willson with 47 seconds left rallied the Seahawks from being down 9-6 late and ended Seattle’s two-game losing streak.
That win almost 2½ months ago was the first of nine wins in 10 games the Seahawks are carrying into Saturday night’s playoff game.
The Seahawks are 5-2 all-time against Carolina. That includes their only previous meeting in the postseason. On Jan. 22, 2006, the Seahawks beat Carolina 34-14 in Seattle to win the NFC championship and advance to their first Super Bowl.
While many Seahawks fans were missing their team playing, the players themselves sure didn't mind being off.
As for that PI flag on a Dallas linebacker with about 6 minutes left that would have given Detroit a first-down in Cowboys' territory while holding a 20-17 lead, a normally reserved Lions legend barely contained his ire: