The fumble heard around the world
It was January 6th, 2007.
The Dallas Cowboys came out of the most competitive division in all of football as the first wild card team in the playoffs at 9-7, and one out of three teams from the NFC East in the postseason.
The game at Qwest Field was a night game on NBC with the Seahawks and the 12th man poised to put on a show.
The game started as a field goal fest.
In the first quarter, Seahawks kicker Josh Brown started it off with a 23 yard field goal. Cowboys kicker Martin Gramatica responded with a huge 50 yard field goal.
In the second quarter, Brown kicked another field goal, a 30 yarder. Dallas, though, would then get the first touchdown of the night before half time with a 13 yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to WR Patrick Crayton.
This was the first season with Romo starting after spending 3 seasons as the team’s back-up quarterback. He took over for Drew Bledsoe mid-season and never gave the starting position up.
The third quarter scoring started with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hitting tight end Jerramy Stevens for a 15 yard touchdown strike. The Cowboys responded right away, though, with wide receiver Miles Austin returning the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
The fourth quarter started with another Dallas field goal by Gramatica, a 29 yarder, extending the Dallas lead, 13-20.
What unfolded next is one of the craziest endings to a football game in history, period.
Dallas was pinned to their own 2 yard line. Romo threw a pass to wide receiver Terry Glenn, who caught it at the line of scrimmage. Before he could get out of bounds, he fumbled the football which bounced into the endzone. Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu lunged for the ball and tipped it as the ball was about to sail out of the back of the endzone. Safety Michael Boulware recovered the ball for a Seahawks touchdown.
But, wait. Was it a touchdown? Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells called for a challenge and the play was reversed and ruled a safety as Tatupu’s foot was out of bounds as he touched the live ball.
The score was now 15-20, Dallas. Dallas now had to punt the ball to the Seahawks.
It took Seattle three plays to get into scoring position, quickly making it to the Dallas 37 yard line with about four and a half minutes left in the game.
Hasselbeck connected with Stevens on the next play for a touchdown after Stevens ran a beautiful route to split the Dallas safeties. The ball was threaded perfectly and the Seahawks grabbed the lead 21-20. They opted to go for the 2 point conversion to make it a 3 point lead with 4:24 left in the game.
The conversion failed, with Seattle clinging to a 1 point lead.
The Cowboys drove back down into Seattle territory when things got wild. The Cowboys had a 3rd and 7 on the Seattle 8 yard line. Romo hit tight end Jason Witten at the Seattle 2 yard line for an apparent Dallas first down.
The booth called a challenge as it was within the 2:00 warning at the end of the game. The play was ruled just short of the first down as Witten’s knee touched down inches before he got the ball across the first down marker.
This set up a potential game-winning Martin Gramatica field goal attempt from the Seattle 2 yard line. This was a chip shot. Any kicker could make this kick.
That is…if he had the chance to kick it.
Romo started the season as Dallas’ back up quarterback and had been the established place holder for field goals. Dallas left him in to hold the kick that should win the game.
The ball was snapped, and the Romo curse began.
Romo would fumble the snap, botching the field goal attempt.
In a quick-on-his-feet, quick-to-act moment, Romo scooped up the ball and ran to the left side of the field, going for the first down or the touchdown. The left side of the field was wide open for him to scramble in.
Jordan Babineaux had other plans. He ran from the other side of the field and closed in on Romo from behind before he could pick up positive yardage. He tackled Romo on the 2 yard line, turning the ball over on downs to the Seahawks and saving the Seahawks 1 point lead. Big Play Babs was born in that moment.
Seattle would run the clock down as much as they could after taking over, finally punting it away with mere seconds left on the clock. Dallas took one last shot with a hail mary to the end zone that was batted down by Seahawks defenders.
In one of the wildest playoff games in history, the Seahawks came away with the 21-20 victory and moved on to play the Chicago Bears in the Divisional round of playoffs. Romo would be forever cursed after that play and still to this day has the curse from that game upon him.
Let’s now relive that moment in NFL History.