Smith Injured as Cowboys Are Mauled by Bears, 22-6

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So now everybody goes 8-8--even the Super Bowl champions--and next week Washington brings the Bears down to earth and Oakland beats Kansas City and Cincinnati drops San Diego and the two expansion wonders wake up.

While free agency and a salary cap, which will not allow depth on the better teams, appear to now encourage mediocrity and dictate NFL results, a goal-line injury to Dallas running back Emmitt Smith took everything away from a 22-6 Chicago razzle-dazzle victory before 66,994 in Soldier Field on Monday night.

Smith, the game’s premier scorer, faked receiving a handoff late in the game and went airborne toward the goal line, landing a yard shy on his neck and shoulder. After Smith lay motionless for several minutes, medical personnel turned him on his back, but then, in a precautionary move, called for a stretcher.


Club officials said Smith complained of numbness and a tingling sensation in his left arm and leg. X-rays at the stadium revealed no fracture in his neck or back, although team physicians elected to send Smith to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted for observation. Team owner Jerry Jones accompanied Smith in the ambulance.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman.

Week one in the NFL is complete and the two teams who ended last season in the Super Bowl have each lost a superstar, while falling by a collective 31 points to a pair of teams that failed to qualify for post-season play.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost linebacker Greg Lloyd because of a knee injury Sunday in a 24-9 loss to Jacksonville.

Both the Cowboys and Steelers, who were savaged by free agency and personal problems during the off-season, failed to overcome their personnel losses. The Steelers no longer have a quality quarterback, and the Cowboys were unable to score a touchdown for the first time since 1991 because they were playing without wide receiver Michael Irvin and tight end Jay Novacek.

“I told our football team I thought this would be an ugly football game, and we would win it,” said Dallas Coach Barry Switzer, who predicted more losses if his team cannot learn how to line up properly. “But I did not think it would be this ugly and we would lose it.

“This is the worst performance since I’ve been coaching this team, and the least talented team since I started coaching here.”


Three years ago, a dozen teams finished 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7; two years ago there were 13 bunched in the middle; and last season 15. Without their full quartet of superstars, and forced to play one player--Deion Sanders--107 plays, the Cowboys were easy prey for the Bears.

Before leaving, Smith ran for 70 yards on 18 carries, while Aikman completed 21 of 37 passes for 192 yards, including nine for 87 yards to Sanders. But when they needed a big play on third down, they were successful only four times in 13 tries.

“It ain’t the same team,” said Dallas guard Nate Newton. “A new era, a new time.”

Chicago relied on a pair of trick plays to score. Wide receiver Curtis Conway, a former option quarterback at Hawthorne High, took a handoff from quarterback Erik Kramer in the second quarter, then tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to running back Raymont Harris for a 10-0 lead.

A fake punt by Todd Sauerbaun, which resulted in a 47-yard pass completion to Harris late in the second quarter, led to one of three Carlos Huerta field goals, and the Cowboys were finished.

“The fake punt doesn’t matter,” Switzer said. “They still beat us, 7-6, because we didn’t score a touchdown. . . . They were well-coached, well-disciplined and they did not have more than two penalties. How many did we have? They did not have to call timeouts because guys did not know where to line up when they came out of the huddle.”