Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dallas Nearly Super in Crushing Vikes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dallas Nearly Super in Crushing Vikes

Article excerpt

The regular season no longer excites the Dallas Cowboys, who treat it as drudgery. They live for the playoffs.

So it should come as no great surprise that they saved their best performance of the season for Saturday's National Football Conference wil d-card playoff game.

In testimony to the Cowboys' dominance, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin played only three quarters as Dallas took its first step toward an unprecedented fourth Super Bowl championship in five years with a 40-15 victory over Minnesota in front of 64,682 at Texas Stadium. Dallas is 12-2 in the playoffs this decade, with 11 victories by 10 or more points. Eight times, the Cowboys have scored at least 30 points. The Cowboys (11-6) will play at Carolina (12-4) at 3 p.m. Sunday in an NFC divisional playoff game. "We look forward to this time of year," said cornerback Deion Sanders, who has played on the past two Super Bowl champions, the first coming as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. "This is the time of year when the world is watching. This is truly prime time. "We sent a message on TV to a lot of people. Dallas is the team to beat." The Cowboys' defense has been superb all season, but the offense had been uncharacteristically bad. The Cowboys entered the playoffs with the National Football League's 24th-ranked offense. Only Indianapolis ranked lower among playoff teams. Dallas averaged 17.7 points and 297.7 yards per game this season and scored only seven touchdowns in the last seven regular-season games. But they found a rhythm early against the Vikings' speedy but undersized defense. On their first possession, the Cowboys drove 88 yards in 14 plays. Aikman finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. For one of the few times this season, Dallas had success running and passing. The Cowboys rushed for a season-high 255 yards and passed for 183 yards. They would have passed for much more, but showed mercy on the Vikings by running the ball almost exclusively in the second half. Smith finished with 116 yards and two touchdowns, one on a 37-yard run, and Irvin caught eight passes for 103 yards. …

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