Rafael Septien narrowly missed a rare free kick from 53 yards away with 22 seconds left, giving the Houston Oilers a 17-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night at Irving, Tex.
The defeat in the battle of Texas gave the Cowboys (0-5) their first winless exhibition season since 1962.
Danny White drove Dallas toward a potential winning touchdown before fumbling a snap from center that was recovered by Houston safety Jeff Donaldson on the Oiler nine with 1:22 left.
The Cowboys forced Houston to punt, and Dallas punt returner Robert Lavette called for a fair catch at Houston’s 43.
Dallas Coach Tom Landry elected to take advantage of the rule that permits a free kick after a fair catch, but Septien’s boot sailed wide to the left of the goal posts. Herschel Walker, the former Heisman Trophy winner and United States Football League star, carried 10 times for 40 yards and caught a screen pass for nine yards in his debut for the Cowboys.
Houston (4-0) scored on Warren Moon’s eight-yard pass to Ernest Givins, Larry Moriarty’s two-yard run and a 27-yard field goal by Tony Zendejas.
White completed 20 of 29 passes for 308 yards and both Dallas touchdowns, a two-yarder to Doug Cosbie and a 21-yarder to Tony Hill. But White also fumbled when sacked in the first half, and Houston recovered on the Dallas two, setting up Moriarty’s score.
Moon, who came into the game with a 70% completion mark in the exhibition season, hit 11 of 20 passes for 152 yards. Moriarty gained 76 yards on 26 carries.
New York Giants 17, Pittsburgh 3--Tight end Mark Bavaro set up one touchdown and scored another to lead the Giants past the Steelers at East Rutherford, N.J.
Bavaro caught a 26-yard pass from Phil Simms, and Joe Morris scored on the next play from the Steeler one. Bavaro gave the Giants (3-1) a 14-0 lead by catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Simms with 2:04 left in the third period.
Terry Kinard intercepted a pair of passes for the Giants, setting up one touchdown and stopping a scoring threat by the Steelers (1-3).
New England 16, Green Bay 9--Tony Eason lobbed a five-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan with 3:03 left to give the Patriots the victory over the Packers at Green Bay.
A pass interference call against Green Bay defensive back Mark Lee set up the touchdown that gave the Patriots (4-1) a 13-9 lead. Tony Franklin kicked a 39-yard field goal to close out the scoring.
The Packers finished the exhibition season at 1-3.
New Orleans 13, Kansas City 10--Bobby Hebert hooked up with Eric Martin on a 41-yard touchdown pass play on fourth-and-18 with 27 seconds left to push the Saints past the Chiefs at New Orleans.
Hebert, who was injured earlier in the fourth quarter and sat out 3 1/2 minutes, returned with 2:20 remaining and drove the Saints (2-2) 86 yards to the winning touchdown in nine plays.
Jeff Smith scored on a one-yard run to give the Chiefs (2-2) a 10-6 lead with 6:06 left.
Minnesota 23, Indianapolis 20--Chuck Nelson kicked a 23-yard field goal 2:22 into overtime to lift the Vikings to victory over the Colts at Indianapolis.
Wade Wilson connected with Alfred Anderson on a 47-yard pass play to set up the winning kick for the Vikings (3-1).
The Colts (1-3) built a 20-10 halftime lead on a four-yard touchdown run by George Wonsley and a 14-yard scoring run by Owen Gill.