Beaten Cowboys keep chins up PRO FOOTBALL

September 07, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- It was a deafening roar that greeted the Dallas Cowboys as they trotted onto the field at RFK Stadium last night.

Dallas safety James Washington and defensive end Jim Jeffcoat decided to offer a greeting of their own, running up to one of the end zones to taunt the home crowd. Before the kickoff the Cowboys had the swagger of champions, a distinction the Dallas team had earned by winning the Super Bowl last season.

But as indicated by their mistake-filled performance last night, this is far from the Dallas team that lost three games all of last season on the way to their 52-17 Super Bowl win over the Buffalo Bills.

"We definitely didn't play close to what we're capable of," Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said. "We turned it over, they didn't turn it over. We made mistakes, and they didn't make mistakes. It was as simple as that."

But there were no somber faces in the locker room.

"It's just one game," said Dallas guard Nate Newton. "You can't count a team like Washington out because they have tradition -- they know football. But we do, too. And we'll keep our heads up and get ready for Buffalo [Sunday in Dallas]."

To again beat the Bills, the Cowboys will have to shake the ineffectiveness they experienced for much of last night. Surely the talk in Dallas this week will turn to the player who was not at RFK Stadium -- holdout All-Pro running back Emmitt Smith. But Johnson said that is far from his concern right now.

"I'm tired of talking about Emmitt Smith," Johnson said when asked how much Smith was missed. "When Emmitt Smith comes to camp, I'll be happy. But we're 0-1 right now and we have to prepare for Buffalo. Let the negotiators talk about Emmitt Smith."

Perhaps Smith wouldn't have made much of a difference last night, the way the Cowboys mishandled the football. Quarterback Troy Aikman's fumble on the first play proved to be a bad omen for the Cowboys, who suffered a missed extra point and lost three of four fumbles in the first half.

The Cowboys caught a break in the first quarter after Kevin Williams mishandled a punt that was recovered by Washington's Pat Eilers on the Dallas 16. But the Redskins were unable to move the ball and Chip Lohmiller missed a 32-yard field goal.

Aikman responded by hitting a wide-open Alvin Harper on an 80-yard scoring pass, but the extra point by Lin Elliott was wide to the left.

On Dallas' next possession, Harper fumbled following a 13-yard reception. Later the Redskins recovered a punt that hit the Cowboys' Washington, who was setting up to block. Brian Mitchell scored from the 1 to give Washington a 14-6 lead and Dallas never recovered.

"I know we made so many mistakes in the first half that it would be hard to overcome," Johnson said.

"We're not pleased. But we lost at RFK last year and won the Super Bowl," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "We think we can play a lot better."

Which were the sentiments of the Dallas players, who carried no long faces afterward. By December they plan to be in the thick of the NFC East race.

"We know what we can do, we just have to make that bond together," defensive end Charles Haley said. "This loss will make us tighter. We'll just buckle down now and get back to winning football."

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