Versatile receiver Deebo Samuel ran 26 yards for a touchdown the play after an interception by Dak Prescott, and the San Francisco 49ers held on for a 23-17 wildcard victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The Cowboys had a final chance with 32 seconds remaining and were at the San Francisco 41 with 14 seconds to go when Prescott took off up the middle intending to slide and spike the ball for a final play. But Dallas didn’t get the snap off until after the clock hit 0:00. After a brief delay, referee Alex Kemp announced the game was over.
The 49ers overcame an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo when they led by 13 in the fourth quarter. Prescott ran for a touchdown to get within a score, and had a chance to drive Dallas to a go-ahead score. But the 49ers got a stop at midfield when Prescott’s desperation fourth-down pass was just out of the receiver Cedrick Wilson’s reach.
After a 14th penalty from the NFL’s most-penalized team in the regular season that helped San Francisco run out most of the clock and the frantic final seconds as Dallas tried for the win the 49ers (11-7) clinched their first playoff victory at the Cowboys in a storied postseason rivalry.
Now they head to Tampa Bay for a divisional game, looking for another trip to the NFC championship game. Earlier in the day, Tom Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Buccaneers launch their bid for a return to the Super Bowl with a dominant 31-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The defending champions set the tempo from the start, with Brady leading a pair of long touchdown drives in the opening quarter and building the lead to 17-0 by halftime.
The seven-time Super Bowl winner finished off the Eagles with touchdown passes of to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans, improving his dazzling playoff record to 35-11 in a record 46 postseason starts.
The Bucs defense did its part, too, intercepting Jalen Hurts twice in the Philadelphia quarterback’s playoff debut. Brady completed 29 of 37 passes without an interception while extending his postseason record for TD passes to 85.
Philadelphia played without defensive end Josh Sweat, who was inactive after being admitted to the hospital and undergoing an emergency procedure for what the team described as a “life-threatening situation” earlier in the week.
The Eagles released a statement before the game saying Sweat, who tied for the team lead with seven sacks this season, was admitted to a hospital last Tuesday night.
“In the following days, Josh and our medical team did everything possible to help him return to play,” the statement said. “He improved every day, but it was determined by doctors today that he was not quite ready. The fact that Josh came so close to playing is a credit to his toughness and our medical staff.”