Cowboys' win sets up showdown with Vikings next week

For the first time since 1996, the Dallas Cowboys have advanced in the NFL playoffs. Next stop: Minnesota.

The Cowboys' 34-14 rout of Philadelphia on Saturday night, giving them a three-game sweep of their NFC East rival, sends them to the Metrodome for a meeting with Brett Favre and the Vikings (12-4) next Sunday.

That means the winner of the other NFC wild-card matchup between Green Bay (11-5) and Arizona (10-6) will visit top-seeded New Orleans (13-3) in six days.

In the AFC, the fifth-seeded New York Jets played error-free ball in frigid Cincinnati to beat the AFC North champion Bengals 24-14 Saturday afternoon. Cincinnati (10-7) has not won a playoff game since 1990.

The Jets (10-7) must wait until Sunday's game between Baltimore and host New England before finding out where they go next weekend. If the Patriots (10-6), who went 8-0 at home, beat the Ravens (9-7), New York will go to top-seeded Indianapolis next Saturday night, and the Patriots will play next Sunday at San Diego (13-3). If Baltimore wins, the Ravens visit the AFC South champion Colts (14-2) and the Jets are at the AFC West-winning Chargers.

Dallas (12-5) swept the Eagles (11-6) in the regular season, including a 24-0 victory in the finale to secure the division title. In the first postseason game at Cowboys Stadium, the Cowboys ended a six-game postseason losing streak -- another defeat would've set an NFL record.

"Just keep trying to get better and eventually things will go your way," quarterback Tony Romo said. "Going out there and playing the way we have lately is very exciting. If we just keep going forward, we got a chance."

So do the Jets.

Three weeks ago, the Jets appeared finished and even rookie coach Rex Ryan thought they were out of contention after falling to 7-7. But they beat Indy, which rested starters in the second half while ahead 15-10, and Cincy, which rested some key players all game.

Now, with their stingy defense and versatile running game, they look as formidable as Ryan has claimed they are.

"This was a great team effort," Ryan said after rookie Shonn Greene ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Mark Sanchez, also a rookie, did not have a turnover. "We're a good football team. If people don't believe that, they soon will."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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