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Injury-Free Aikman Leads the Cowboys, 26-14

From Associated Press

Even the seven stitches in his chin couldn’t wreck the way Troy Aikman felt Sunday.

“I probably feel better than I have in a long time,” Aikman said after he passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-14.

Aikman entered the game with an uninjured right arm for the first time since college. Surgery last January repaired his right shoulder and removed bone chips from his elbow that had bothered him since his junior year at UCLA.

The chin was sewn up after he was sandwiched between two defenders as he released a pass in the second half.

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The Cowboys improved their NFL-best record in openers to 24-7-1 and ruined the coaching debut of the Browns’ Bill Belichick.

Aikman, who completed 24 of 37 passes without an interception, directed the Cowboys to scores on all four of their first-half possessions, including short touchdown passes to Jay Novacek and Michael Irvin and two field goals by Ken Willis.

The Cowboys dominated the half, taking a 20-7 lead while allowing the Browns to run only 17 plays.

However, the Browns needed only one play to get back in it. Bernie Kosar and Webster Slaughter combined on a 62-yard pass play for a touchdown on the first play of the second half, getting the Browns within six. It was the longest completion in a Cleveland opener since Reggie Rucker’s reception on a 69-yard play in 1978.

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But the Browns were unable to sustain any more scoring drives, as the Cowboys held an opponent under 300 yards of total offense for the seventh consecutive regular-season game.

Willis kicked second-half field goals of 22 and 54 yards. The latter was his career best and tied the Cowboys’ record set by Toni Fritsch in 1972.

Emmitt Smith led the Cowboys running game with 112 yards in 32 carries. Irvin caught a career-high nine passes for 123 yards.

The Browns are trying to come back from a 3-13 season last year, the worst in franchise history. The Cowboys were 7-9, missing the playoffs by one game.

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