Giants, Cowboys tied up in East topknot Smith's 237 yards run down Eagles

November 01, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Forget the Dallas Cowboys' 0-2 start. Normalcy, and Emmitt Smith, have revisited the NFC East race.

Smith, who joined the season in progress, made up for lost time yesterday when he glided over the worst carpet in the NFL for a club-record 237 rushing yards.

On a day when the Troy Aikman passing game couldn't get off the ground, Smith's performance spirited the Cowboys to a 23-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at rain-soaked Veterans Stadium.

"I didn't expect this to happen today," Smith said, "and I don't think the Eagles expected it, either."

The Cowboys' fifth straight win -- coupled with the New York Giants' 10-6 loss to the New York Jets -- earned Dallas a first-place tie with the Giants in the NFC East at 5-2.

Dallas can break that tie next Sunday when it faces the Giants at Texas Stadium.

The defending Super Bowl champions haven't lost since Smith was given a four-year, $13.6 million contract. Without the two-time rushing champion, the Cowboys were 0-2 and threatening to come apart at the seams.

The folly of refusing to meet Smith's salary demands was never )) more evident than on yesterday's rain-slick, worn surface, considered the worst in the league even on its best days.

It was the best day a Dallas running back ever had, beating Tony Dorsett's mark of 206 yards in 1977 (also against the Eagles). It also matched the high for an Eagles opponent, first set in 1961 by the Cleveland Browns' Jim Brown.

The 237 yards represented the sixth-best rushing game of all-time.

It took Smith 30 carries to get there, and the coup de grace was a 62-yard touchdown run on a draw play in the fourth quarter with the Eagles in striking distance.

"Emmitt is a great player," Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said. "He has a low base, and is able to keep his feet up under him. He was able to circle and spin. You might put a circle and an X on his name because he's a pretty good mudder."

A mudder on AstroTurf, at that.

"Emmitt has the ability to pick up 7, 8, 9 yards and it may not look pretty but it certainly adds up," said Eagles safety Rich Miano. "He's got vision like no other back in the league."

Smith averaged 7.9 yards for his 30 carries in the constant rain. The play that put the resilient Eagles away, though, was one of the Cowboys' simplest runs.

Leading 16-10 late in the fourth quarter after the Eagles couldn't move the ball out of their end of the field, the clinching touchdown came on second-and-four from the Dallas 38.

With linebacker Byron Evans blitzing, Smith took a handoff from Aikman and went up the middle behind fullback Daryl Johnston. Evans hit the wrong hole, and Smith had only to elude a lunging Mike Flores to hit open territory. Eric Allen, the Eagles' fastest defender, never was able to get close enough and Smith went in untouched.

"They brought guys up to the line to stop the run," Smith said, "and thought that we'd go outside. [But] we popped it inside.

L "They were blitzing to stop the run. It worked for a while."

Center Mark Stepnoski and right guard Kevin Gogan blocked Evans before he could find Smith. "We picked it up so sweet," said Cowboys guard Nate Newton. "We knew eventually that was going to happen."

Aikman completed just nine of 19 passes for 96 yards, but finally was able to record his first victory at the Vet in five NFL seasons.

"People make a big deal that I haven't walked away from this stadium with a victory," he said. "But this game means no more to me than if we won at Dallas."

The Eagles (4-3) certainly had their chances. Their best opportunity to spring the upset came early in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were holding a 13-7 lead.

On a drive that began at their own 31, the Eagles reached the Dallas 15, where they faced third-and-two.

After burning a timeout, quarterback Ken O'Brien faked an inside run to Heath Sherman and rolled right. Waiting at the 10-yard line was a wide-open James Joseph. But O'Brien short-armed the pass and the ball fell incomplete. The Eagles got a 33-yard field goal by Matt Bahr instead of a go-ahead TD and it was 13-10.

"The only explanation I can give you is that it was just a horrible pass," said O'Brien, who was 11-for-24 for 107 yards and one touchdown.

On Dallas' next series, Eddie Murray's third field goal of the game, a 40-yarder that hit metal as it eked through the uprights, pushed the Cowboys' lead to 16-10.

Six minutes later, Smith removed any doubt that the Cowboys were back.


The Cowboys' Emmitt Smith (above) yesterday moved into sixth place on the all-time NFL single-game rushing list:

Player, team .. .. Yds. .. .. Opp. .. .. Yr.

Payton, Chi. .. .. 275 ... .. Minn. . .. '77

Simpson, Buff. ... 273 ... .. Det. .. .. '76

Simpson, Buff. ... 250 ... .. N.E. .. .. '73

Ellison, Rams . .. 247 ... .. N.O. .. .. '71

Gilchrist, Buff. . 243 ... .. Jets .. .. '63

Smith, Dal. ... .. 237 ... .. Phila. ... '93

Brown, Cle. ... .. 237 ... .. Phila. ... '61

Brown, Cle. ... .. 237 ... .. L.A. .. .. '57

Brown, Cle. ... .. 232 ... .. Dallas ... '63

Mitchell, Cle. ... 232 ... .. Wash. . .. '59

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