For Cowboys, It’s Definitely One for the Ages
There’s still some football life left in the aging Dallas Cowboys.
Veterans Emmitt Smith and Herschel Walker provided the clutch plays the Cowboys needed against the young Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, keying a 26-22 victory that followed back-to-back losses for the team that has won five consecutive NFC East titles.
The victory also should quiet for at least a week the critics who said the Cowboys (4-3) were over the hill.
“We don’t have quit in us,” Coach Barry Switzer said. “We have veteran players who know what it takes to win.”
Smith, showing signs of slowing down in his eighth NFL season, scored his first touchdown of the year. Walker, the 12-year veteran playing in place of injured fullback Daryl Johnston, accounted for the game’s decisive touchdown on a 64-yard pass play with 6:27 left and Jacksonville (5-2) leading, 22-19.
“People keep saying I’m an old man,” said Walker, 35. “Today I felt like I was 22 and just got drafted.”
On second and 22, Walker sneaked out of the backfield and caught a quick pass from Troy Aikman. Walker then broke four tackles to score as Aikman pumped his fist, celebrating Dallas’ longest pass play of the year.
“We never dreamed the play would go for 22 yards, let alone a touchdown,” Aikman said. “We were just trying to pick up some yardage to set up third down.”
Said Walker: “I’ve run that play a lot in training camp, but haven’t gotten too many chances to run it in a game. I just kept bouncing off tacklers.”
The victory wasn’t secured until Cowboy safety Omar Stoutmire, subbing for the injured Darren Woodson, intercepted a desperation pass by Mark Brunell, who was under heavy pressure from Tony Tolbert with 1:24 left.
Brunell finished 21 of 31 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns, but James Stewart, who scored five touchdowns last week, could gain only 40 yards in 17 carries.
“I can see why the Dallas secondary is the best in the NFL,” Brunell said. “We weren’t clicking today like we usually do. I think Tolbert may have tipped the ball I had intercepted. I was just trying to throw it away.”
Until Walker’s touchdown, the most excitement was generated by Smith’s one-yard scoring dive in the second quarter, his first regular-season rushing touchdown in 33 quarters. It was also his 116th touchdown, tying him for fifth on the NFL career list with John Riggins.
A 27-yard pass play from Aikman to Michael Irvin set up Smith’s short run, which was egged on by the crowd, chanting “Emmitt . . . Emmitt” before the ball was snapped. Dallas had to call timeout before it ran the play to make sure the formation was correct. Smith was mobbed by his teammates after the score.
“There was pressure like you probably couldn’t understand to have everyone expect you to do something and then see the turncoats turn on you,” said Smith, who had 75 yards in 24 carries.