Jordan Babineaux wasn’t supposed to be the hero on this short Dallas field-goal attempt.
Cornerback Kelly Jennings was to mount the main block attempt from the other side of the Seahawks defense, and Babineaux was to get into the backfield and be positioned to scoop the ball up and run it in for a score if the block worked.
Jennings did, in fact, make a great rush, and dove in front of Cowboy kicker Martin Gramatica. But by then, quarterback/holder Tony Romo already had butterfingered the snap in one of the NFL’s all-time colossal mistakes.
Cowboys fans probably used the same wording as Romo famously bobbled the hold and was tackled by Babineaux in one of those can’t-miss plays that provide historical verification that nothing is a sure-thing in the NFL.
It helped preserve the Seahawks’ 21-20 win in the first round of the playoffs in January 2007, and solidified the nickname already given to Babineaux — Big Play Babs.
It surely will come again this week, as it does every time the Seahawks meet Dallas.
Babineaux has gone into broadcasting, with NFL Network and local radio, as well as forming a burgeoning multi-media production company with his brother Jonathan, now in his 11th season with the Atlanta Falcons.
In his seven seasons with the Seahawks, Jordan Babineaux proved his knack for being around the action, intercepting Drew Bledsoe in October of 2005 to set up a final-play field goal by Josh Brown to defeat Dallas. And later returning an interception for a touchdown against the Redskins in a playoff game in 2008.
But the most memorable was his dramatic tackle of Romo.
The Seahawks and Dallas each had struggled during 9-7 seasons, and the Hawks got the homefield advantage in the wild-card round as the NFC West Division champions.
Seattle scrapped to a 21-20 lead, but Romo drove them in the final 2 minutes and connected with tight end Jason Witten to the Seahawks 2, leaving them with fourth-and-1 with 1:19 on the clock.
Dallas coach Bill Parcells sent Gramatica on for the formality of a 19-yard field goal that would put the Cowboys ahead 23-21, leaving the Hawks very little time — and no timeouts — to respond.
16 Games the Seahawks and Cowboys have played against each other. Dallas leads the series 10-6, though Seattle won the only playoff meeting, 21-20, in 2007.
Both head coaches, Parcels and Seattle’s Mike Holmgren, were so certain the kick would be good, neither saw the play as they were busy plotting how to manage the game’s final minute or so.
Babineaux was not so sure the kick was a foregone conclusion. “It had been close the whole game, so I never thought it was over,” Babineaux said. “It was one of those rare plays you see in football and you say, ‘Wow, that’s why nothing is ever certain in this game.’ ”
Once he saw Romo trying to gather in the ball and head toward the end zone, Babineaux was in chase mode, and he had to hurdle the fallen Jennings to pursue. Coming from the middle of the field, safety Ken Hamlin had an angle on Romo, but didn’t look likely to intersect his path before the goal line.
But racing from behind, Babineaux tripped him up not only short of the end zone, but also just shy of the first-down marker, giving the Hawks possession.
“The biggest thing I remember was the rush of joy,” Babineaux said. “I remember running down at least to midfield with my hands in the air. The crowd erupted. It was a special moment for me. But even in that moment, there was still time on the clock and we had to finish the game.”
With 1:14 left, the Seahawks got out of their end zone thanks to a 20-yard run by Shaun Alexander, but quickly stalled and a meager 26-yard punt by Ryan Plackemeier left Dallas with the ball at midfield and :02 on the clock. Their desperation pass to Terrell Owens in the end zone fell incomplete.
Babineaux’s play had been the difference, and his nickname became a permanent part of his identity in Seattle.
Romo, meanwhile, was viewed with some suspicion for years afterward by some Cowboy fans. And Parcells, with a year remaining on his contract, decided to retire early.
Babineaux said he’s only run into Romo once since that day, and the play wasn’t mentioned. “We talked more about golf,” he said.
Having been a broadcasting major at Southern Arkansas, Babineaux knew what he wanted to get into after his career finished up with the Tennessee Titans.
The Babineaux’s Two Brothers’ Production company has produced two Kevin Hart comedy specials and a feature film titled: “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.”
“The production side of it has been a huge interest of mine, how things are made and developed,” he said. “I have an attraction for the camera, not just being in front of it. I’m into directing and doing some producing myself the last few years.”
Like an athletic career, show business, he said, “is a climb, it’s a grind.”
And it’s unrelenting.
“I’m always working on something, trying to create something and develop something, it never stops,” he said.
His celebrity now is mainly as a media member. He’ll appear at a viewing party for military staff and personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord during the Seahawks-Cowboys game Sunday.
You know he’ll repeatedly be asked about the timely game-saving tackle of Romo, still the biggest of his big plays.