Battle set for Seattle

BOB MACKIN, 24 HOURS

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

The Seattle Seahawks' 12th man flag is flying atop the Space Needle and fans around Cascadia were encouraged to wear blue to work today as their team begins defence of its NFC championship.

The Seahawks host the Dallas Cowboys in a wild-card game at Qwest Field tomorrow (5 p.m. NBC).

Both teams are 9-7 after rollercoaster regular seasons. The NFC West champion Seahawks are 5-3 at home, but the Cowboys are 5-3 on the road.

Seattle ended the regular season - and a three-game losing streak - by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on New Year's Eve. Cowboys come to Seattle after a pair of losses, including their embarrassing regular season finale with the woeful Detroit Lions, the NFL's second-worst team.

The Seahawks are 4-6 all-time against the Cowboys and last met in an Aug. 12, 2006 exhibition game in Seattle. Tony Romo, who had not thrown a pass in his previous three Dallas seasons, led the Cowboys to a 13-3 win that spoiled the Seahawks' first game since losing Super Bowl XL.

Romo eventually replaced Washington State Cougars' alumni Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboys' starting pivot and will appear in his first career playoff game.

The Seahawks will rely offensively on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander. Both missed several games with frustrating midseason injuries.

Controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens will be subject to defensive scrutiny after leading the Cowboys with 85 catches for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Owens made headlines in 2002 at Qwest Field when he pulled a felt marker out of his sock after scoring a touchdown for the San Francisco 49ers. He immediately signed the ball and gave it to his financial adviser.


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