Dallas takes NFC turn for best in 52-17 romp

RIDE'EM, COWBOYS!

February 01, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

PASADENA, CALIF — PASADENA, Calif. -- Super Bowl XXVII was a battle of NFC muscle against AFC finesse -- and muscle won easily.

The Cowboys, completing a run from 1-15 to the championship in just four years since owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson took over the team, routed the bumbling, blundering Buffalo Bills, 52-17, yesterday at the Rose Bowl.

This time, it was the Dallas Cowboys' turn to be crowned the kings of pro football as they joined the rolls of the four NFC teams -- the San Francisco 49ers, the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears -- that had won the past eight Super Bowls.

Riding the arm of Troy Aikman, the legs of Emmitt Smith, the hands of Michael Irvin, the fingers of Jimmie Jones and the jarring hits of Ken Norton Jr., the Cowboys spotted the Bills a 7-0 lead and came back to take a 28-10 lead at halftime and coasted to the victory in the second half while forcing a Super Bowl-record nine turnovers.

Aikman threw four touchdown passes -- two to Irvin -- to win MVP honors, Smith rushed for 108 yards and Jones, an obscure backup defensive lineman, recovered two fumbles -- one for a touchdown and another that set up a touchdown.

Norton, the son of former world heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton, stopped Kenneth Davis on the goal line with a big hit early in the second period, knocked out quarterback Jim Kelly later in the period and scored a touchdown with a fumble recovery in the fourth period.

Jones, who recovered two fumbles, and Thomas Everett, who intercepted two passes, combined for four of the nine turnovers.

At the end of the game, the Cowboys gave Johnson the traditional Gatorade bath and Smith even messed up his hair as Johnson laughed. Jerry Jones then combed it.

In presenting the Super Bowl trophy to Jones and Johnson, commissioner Paul Tagliabue called them the "architects and engineers" of the Cowboys' success.

It was a satisfying moment for Jones, who was ridiculed for the callous way he fired Tom Landry, the team's only head coach for its first 29 years, and for Johnson, who became the first coach to win a national college title and a Super Bowl.

"I can't say enough for what Jimmy has done. He's given his heart and soul to us having a winning football team," Jones said.

Johnson, noted for his self-confidence, said: "There was never -- any doubt we would get to this point, but the concern was how long it was going to take."

Johnson told the players after the game: "As good as you feel right now, you must understand the love and support you have for each other, the commitment you made is what got you here. Don't ever forget that."

Jones and Johnson got a call from President Clinton, and Johnson told the president: "You know a little bit about perseverance yourself. It's a great feeling. I know you understand."

It was a bitter loss for the Bills, who entered the Super Bowl Hall of Shame by becoming the first team to lose three straight Super Bowls.

Coach Marv Levy told his players: "You don't want to hear a speech from me right now. We're all hurting and speeches won't make it go away. We'll talk about it in depth at our team meeting on Tuesday."

Kelly was knocked out after completing four of seven passes and getting sacked twice and intercepted twice. Thurman Thomas gained only 19 yards in 11 carries and sprained his ankle.

The Cowboys savored the victory.

"It feels great, man. It feels like when I was in the operating room when my wife was having the baby," said guard Nate Newton. "It's just something sweet, man. You just can't really explain it. It's a feeling you can't describe."

Noting the Cowboys are the youngest team in the league, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, who's leaving to become coach of the Chicago Bears, said, "As young as they are, the Cowboys are going to be on top for a long, long time."

Aikman said he was nervous at the start when he felt the team was shaky, but he settled down and completed 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards.

The Cowboys were appearing in their first Super Bowl in 14 years and had just two players (Charles Haley and Ray Horton) with Super Bowl experience. The Bills had 37.

But the Bills appeared to be the jittery team. They committed five turnovers in the first half and four in the second half.

Frank Reich, the former Maryland quarterback who engineered the miracle comeback victory over the Houston Oilers in the second half earlier this month, replaced Kelly, but he had run out of miracles.

Here were some of the big plays that turned the game after the Bills had taken a 7-0 lead.

* With the Bills facing a first down at the 50, midway in the first period, Ken Gant rushed Kelly with the blitz and Kelly threw it up forgrabs. James Washington picked it off easily.

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