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 as a direct result.

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 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.

But a replay showed the Cowboys were short. Dallas had its offense still 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.

"It was just one of those things," Dallas coach Bill Parcells said. "It looked like a good snap. I can't tell you what happened after that. We're an extra point from being down to the eight teams left. That's what's the hardest thing."

Not surprisingly, Romo was apologetic in the locker room.

"I know how hard everyone in that locker room worked to get themselves in position to win that game today and for it to end like that, and for me to be the cause is very tough to swallow right now," he said. "I take responsibility for messing up at the end there. That's my fault. I cost the Dallas Cowboys a playoff win, and it's going to sit with me a long time."

The Cowboys now enter the offseason with a plethora of questions, including what will happen with Bill Parcells and also with controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens.

As bizarre as Saturday's game was, it was only the second-craziest of the season for Dallas. On Nov. 5, the Cowboys lost 22-19 to Washington after a last-second field goal was blocked and a flag on the return let the Redskins kick the winner with no time left. It was their only other road loss under Romo.

The punch to the gut of that loss, though, was nothing compared to this one. It will haunt Dallas at least until next season and likely until the longest postseason drought in franchise history ends -- whenever that is.

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