Cowboys talking repeat

January 24, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys showed yesterday that you can take a Jimmy Johnson guarantee to the bank.

Johnson predicted they would beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game and they did.

Easily.

Scoring touchdowns on four of their five first-half possessions, the Cowboys crushed the 49ers, 38-21, at Texas Stadium to set up the first back-to-back Super Bowl rematch, against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Even the loss of quarterback Troy Aikman, who suffered a concussion on the Cowboys' first series of the second half, didn't stop Dallas.

Bernie Kosar came off the bench and completed a pair of critical third-down plays -- including a 42-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Harper -- to keep the Cowboys in charge.

Johnson was off the mark on only one part of his prediction. He said it would be tight for three quarters before the Cowboys would wear down the 49ers. Instead, it was close for only one quarter as the Cowboys took control with a 21-point second period.

Johnson tried to downplay his guarantee after the game.

"It wasn't much of a prediction," he said. "Everybody made such a big to-do about it. I was really doing it for our football team. I wanted our guys to be loose and I wanted to have a kind of underlying attitude of bottom line, no excuses, win.

"In the playoffs, there are no second chances. If you win, you go to the Super Bowl. Our guys responded.

They were kidding me for the last few days that I wrote a check for them and they were going to have to pay, and they did."

He also said there was another reason for the prediction.

"I thought it would be a good way to get the crowd into it. The crowd was as loud as I ever heard it at Texas Stadium. It's something I thought long and hard about. After practice Thursday, after watching them work the way they did, I thought, 'Hey, now's the time to see how our guys respond when they're put in a pressure situation.' "

The comment may have contributed to the emotional atmosphere on the field. 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, who usually takes a low-key approach, even jawed with cornerback Kevin Smith of the Cowboys before the pre-game introductions.

Don't expect an encore from Johnson.

"I'm going to be very quiet this week," Johnson said.

He might have been cautious because Aikman was hospitalized overnight after the game with a grade one concussion, the mildest form.

The Cowboys don't anticipate Aikman will have any problems recovering, but will wait until today for a further prognosis.

Johnson admitted he's "concerned" about Aikman.

"When you have one of the pieces of the puzzle missing, we're not near as sharp as what we can be," Johnson said. "Hopefully, everything will be fine and he'll be able to start back to work in the next day or two."

The Bills did beat the Cowboys, 13-10, in the second game of the season, but running back Emmitt Smith was holding out at the time.

Johnson said the victory over the 49ers wasn't as easy as it looked.

"It was a strain," he said. "I think everybody on our football team was straining their guts out for 60 minutes."

Continuing in his diplomatic vein, Johnson praised the Bills, who lost to the Cowboys, 52-17, in last year's Super Bowl.

"Buffalo's got a great team," Johnson said. "Everybody looks at last year's game. We ended up with about nine turnovers last year. That really made for a big difference in the score. I think it's going to be a great Super Bowl."

San Francisco coach George Seifert seemed stunned.

"I don't think anybody in a million years thought it would be this type of game," he said. "Certainly, this was not one of our better games. I think games like this are bitter because you are proud of the fellows you work with and you have an opportunity to do something special and it's eluded us once again, this time in a more humiliating fashion."

He was referring to the fact the Cowboys also beat the 49ers, 30-20, in last year's NFC title game.

The Cowboys put on a clinic in the first half. Aikman completed 14 of 18 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys jumped to a 28-7 lead.

Smith, showing he has recovered from his shoulder separation, carried 15 times for 60 yards and caught six passes for 84 yards in the first half. He added 28 more rushing yards and one more catch in the second half.

The 49ers had one chance to rebound in the second half. Aikman had come out and they stopped Kosar on three downs on his first possession and scored to cut the deficit to 28-14.

On the third play of Kosar's second drive, the 49ers blitzed on a 3rd-and-9 play at the Dallas 19 and Kosar completed a pass to Michael Irvin for 12 yards to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, on 3rd-and-3 at the San Francisco 42, the Cowboys blitzed again.

This time, Kosar threw a high pass that Alvin Harper snared, and when Eric Davis went for the ball, Harper broke loose for the score.

The game started out as if it were going to be a high-scoring duel.

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