Cowboys Take Giant Step toward Defending Crown

By Ap | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 3, 1994 | Go to article overview

Cowboys Take Giant Step toward Defending Crown


Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The Dallas Cowboys have to win two more games to get back to the Super Bowl. It won't get any tougher than it did Sunday for the team that everyone expects to be there.

Dallas won the National Football Conference East title and got home field for the playoffs by beating the New York Giants 16-13 on Eddie Murray's 41-yard field goal with 4 minutes 16 seconds remaining in overtime in an atmosphere that will be difficult for any playoff game to match.

But the Cowboys needed a heroic effort by Emmitt Smith, who ran for 168 yards and caught 10 passes despite playing the second half and overtime with a sprained and partially separated right shoulder. In the process, he won the National Football League rushing title (see Page 3D).

And they left the showdown at Giants Stadium aware they can take nothing for granted after squandering a 13-0 halftime lead and winning in part because the Giants seemed to be playing for a tie at the end of regulation.

"We knew the Giants had one of the best defenses in the league and we weren't going to get any big plays on them," coach Jimmy Johnson said. So he turned to Smith, who was injured when he was hit by Greg Jackson late in the first half.

Trainer Kevin O'Neill called it a first-degree sprained and separated shoulder, the least severe kind.

"I talked to him two or three times," Johnson said of Smith, who accounted for 40 of the 52 yards Dallas gained to set up Murray's winning kick. "He said, `No, I want to finish this. I want to be the guy. Let me play until I can't play anymore.' "

Dallas finished 12-4 and the Giants 11-5. Dallas will get a bye next weekend, and New York will be host to a wild-card game against Minnesota. If the Giants win, they may have to go to Dallas the following week.

"It's been a crazy year," Johnson said. "We've had to play without some of our stars. I don't know how much further we're going to go from here, but I like our chances."

The Cowboys dominated the first half but could get into the end zone only on a 5-yard pass to Smith from Troy Aikman. They piled up 238 yards to 68 for New York and had the ball for more than 22 of the 30 minutes.

But they lost momentum early in the second half when Kevin Williams pulled a late-season version of Leon Lett's gaffe that cost Dallas the Miami game. Williams tried to pick up a punt that had been partially blocked by the Cowboys' Brock Marion. The Giants recovered and drove in for the touchdown that got them back in it.

New York, which lost 31-9 in Dallas earlier this season, eventually tied it at 13-13 on David Treadwell's 31-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation. The drive included nine runs for 43 yards by Rodney Hampton, who finished with 114 yards in 30 carries.

At no time in the drive did Phil Simms throw the ball into the end zone. Simms completed 16 of 25 passes for 207 yards and was sacked four times.

"If I knew what the score would be at the end, 16-13, yeah, I would have tried to throw," said New York coach Dan Reeves, peeved at questions about whether he had tried to win in regulation. …

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