LOS ANGELES - The Dallas Cowboys advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs on the strength of their running game and run defense. On Saturday night, it proved to be their downfall.
The Cowboys allowed their most rushing yards in a postseason game, while Ezekiel Elliott was held to 47 yards in a 30-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. It was the sixth straight loss in the divisional round for Dallas, and it has not reached the NFC championship game since 1996.
"We did not do a good enough job defending the run, obviously," coach Jason Garrett said. "They were also committed to stopping our run. They had a lot of people around the line of scrimmage and that's what they were going to do."
The epitome of the Cowboys' ground game woes on both sides came in the fourth quarter.
Dallas was down 23-15 and on the Rams 35 when Elliott was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1.
Los Angeles then went on a 12-play, 65-yard touchdown drive where all but two plays were runs. The drive was capped off by a 1-yard score by C.J. Anderson.
"They dominated us up front, we didn't get any movement," said Elliott about the fourth-down play.
Quarterback Dak Prescott said that stop thwarted any momentum the Cowboys had after being down 23-7 midway through the third quarter.
"We didn't get it done on fourth down and that changed the game right there. We weren't able to execute when we needed to and it hurt," he said. "Had we made it, we still would have a nice balance running and passing and we wouldn't have had to drop back on every play."
Dallas allowed only 73 yards in its wild-card round victory over Seattle, who came in with the NFL's top-ranked rushing attack.
The Cowboys didn't have the same success against the league's No. 3 rushing team, surrendering 273 yards.
The old mark was 269 against the Rams in 1986 as Eric Dickerson ran for 248 yards.
On Saturday, it was two backs that gave the Cowboys problems as Todd Gurley (115) and Anderson (123) averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
It marked the first time two running backs have had 100-yard games against the Cowboys in the postseason, and the first time it has happened to them in any game since Baltimore in December 2008.
Chiefs 31, Colts 13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Chiefs' defense had heard the chorus of critics all season long, the ones that claimed their sieve-like line and shaky backfield would spoil young superstar Patrick Mahomes and cost them a chance to chase their first Super Bowl appearance in decades.
Well, that defense is a big reason why the Chiefs are one step away.
With persistent snow turning Arrowhead Stadium into a winter wonderland, the Chiefs successfully shut down Andrew Luck and the potent Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Mahomes and the rest of their own high-powered offense took care of the rest, rolling to a 31-13 victory in the divisional round to end 25 years of playoff frustration.
"We're such a different team," said Mahomes, who threw for 278 yards while running for a score. "We have such young players. We have such confidence we're going to win every single game."
Damien Williams ran through snow and muck for 129 yards and another score, and Tyreek Hill had 72 yards receiving and a touchdown run, as the Chiefs beat Indianapolis for the first time in five playoff meetings to earn their first AFC title game appearance since January 1994.
The AFC West champions will play the Patriots next weekend for a spot in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
"We wanted to light up the city," Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. "We didn't want to take the road down memory lane."
Andrew Luck was held to 203 yards passing for the Colts, while Marlon Mack was a non-factor on the ground.
He had 46 yards rushing before leaving late in the fourth quarter with a hip injury.
"Was not expecting it to end today," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "We knew we were going up against a very good team, a very well-coached team. It's hard to lose. It's hard to lose when you've come this far with the team that we have and the guys that we have, so credit to the Chiefs.
"They outcoached us, they outplayed us," Reich said. "We just gave them too many opportunities."
The Chiefs set out to change history from the opening minutes, when they forced a three-and-out and then waltzed right over a Colts defense that nearly shut out the Texans a week ago.