Cowboys Run Eagles Ragged : Pro football: Deion and his headgear are a mere minor fashion note on a night when Dallas rolls to a 34-12 victory in the rain.
A Dallas Cowboy defensive back thrilled a national television audience Monday night with a daring interception and 20-yard sideline sprint into the end zone.
Once there, teammates surrounding him, he celebrated with a familiar two-step dance that caused the Texas Stadium crowd to howl.
Relax. It was Larry Brown.
The Dallas Cowboys are so good, they don’t need you-know-who.
OK, so commemorative do-rags were distributed to the fans before Monday’s 34-12 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
After that, football’s best team proved once again that the three players in this town most worthy of being called by one name remain Troy, Emmitt and Michael.
Aikman missed on only seven of 24 passes and threw for a touchdown. Smith ran for 158 yards and two scores. And Irvin tied a league record with his seventh consecutive 100-yard receiving game (115) as the Cowboys mugged yet another supposed contender in front of 64,876 fans so enamored, they sat through a rout in the rain.
Deion Sanders? He may have run back a punt 43 yards, and intercepted a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half, but otherwise he was little more than a fancy centerpiece.
The Eagles, who had won four consecutive games while boasting the league’s second-ranked defense and surging playoff hopes, ran into considerably larger obstacles.
They had only 232 yards in total offense. Eleven completed passes. Ninety-two yards in frustrated penalties.
They spoke as if they had just happened upon a car accident.
"[The Cowboys] are the best in the business,” said Eagle running back Ricky Watters, no easy admission for a player whose ego is bigger than guard Nate Newton’s belly.
Added Eagle defensive lineman Andy Harmon: “You have to play a near-perfect game to beat them. You make any mistakes, and that’s it.”
Next up for these overwhelming favorites to win a game on Jan. 28 in Phoenix, Ariz. . . . the suddenly imperfect San Francisco 49ers.
Last season, the Cowboys spent the week of this regular showdown fussing and fretting before losing by a touchdown, causing the NFC championship to be played in San Francisco, where the 49ers won again.
This year, perhaps because the 49ers are struggling at 5-4 with quarterback Steve Young suffering from a shoulder injury, the 8-1 Cowboys are taking a different approach.
“We’re going to have fun with it,” Newton said. “Last year, we worried so much about what the 49ers were saying all week. This year, we don’t care. We just don’t care.”
And if Young, who has missed the last two games, is not at full strength for Sunday’s game here?
“We don’t care,” repeated Newton. “We hope he is out. . . . We hope Carmen Policy [club president] falls off his high horse and hurts himself.”
Their victory Monday proved that the Cowboys don’t care much about anything else.
After all, this was the week that defensive lineman Leon Lett and defensive back Clayton Holmes were suspended for a month because they violated the league’s drug policy.
So what happens? Chad Hennings, Lett’s replacement, has two tackles and two assists while helping to hold the Eagles running duo of Watters and Charlie Garner to 97 total yards.
And Holmes’ replacement on third-down situations, Robert Bailey, helps hold the Eagles to only four third-down conversions on 14 tries.
“We couldn’t function if [Cowboy owner] Jerry [Jones] wasn’t off doing something every week,” said Coach Barry Switzer. “And with those suspensions . . . I told this team, ‘If this is the worst thing that happens to you all year . . .’
“The way we handle this stuff is, we just go play.”
And so they did, responding to every Eagle threat with a more serious one.
The Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the first two minutes after Smith lost a fumble. The Cowboys scored a touchdown less than three minutes later, when Smith broke two tackles during a 39-yard scoring run.
The Eagles closed a 17-3 gap to 17-12 after a third-quarter touchdown dive by Watters.
The Cowboys scored less than six minutes later after a 71-yard drive ended in Smith running untouched for three yards.
“They answer . . . we answer,” Switzer said.
It has happened so often this season, the rest of the league has forgotten the question.