Sloppy Cowboys dropped by Oilers, 27-14 Dallas commits 5 turnovers, jeopardizes playoff chances

November 28, 1997|By FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

IRVING, Texas -- Yesterday's Cowboys-Oilers matchup was supposed to be the turning point for a Dallas playoff run.

This was Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium, the time and site of the some of the Cowboys' fondest memories.

But instead of a game to remember, the Cowboys offered up the quintessential model for what is fast becoming a season to forget.

ZTC Running back Eddie George punished the Cowboys' run-weary defense for 110 yards, and the Tennessee Oilers scored 21 points off three Cowboys turnovers en route to a 27-14 victory before 63,421.

Two interceptions off quarterback Troy Aikman were turned into touchdowns, and a fumble by tight end Eric Bjornson was returned 42 yards for a touchdown by Oilers safety Marcus Robertson.

In all, the Cowboys had five turnovers in the game.

With the loss, the Cowboys (6-7) moved one step closer to missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990. The Oilers, not the Cowboys, kept their playoff hopes alive, improving to 7-6.

After Sunday's loss at Green Bay, the Cowboys predicted that they would have to win their last four games to make the playoffs. Now, they don't care to discuss it.

Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, whose tenure with the team is rumored to be coming to an end, refused to speculate on the Cowboys' playoff chances.

"I am embarrassed," Switzer said. "I should be embarrassed with five turnovers. We weren't good enough to overcome what we gave them."

Aikman offered the first omen of bad things when he experienced back spasms before the game and was in the locker room at kickoff receiving muscle relaxers. He tried to rally the Cowboys, completing 27 of 42 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns.

However, he said the early miscues, including two interceptions that led to 14 first-quarter points for the Oilers, were too much to overcome -- for yesterday and probably for the season.

"We're a long ways from where we were," said Aikman.

He wasn't the only one hurting. The Cowboys lost cornerback Deion Sanders to a fractured rib in the first quarter and running back Emmitt Smith to a separated shoulder in the third quarter.

Anguish marked the mood in the Cowboys' locker room. Loquacious receiver Michael Irvin left without saying a word, with game pants still on and carrying his usual debonair attire on hangers.

"Today it pretty much summed up the season," linebacker Vinson Smith said. "Penalties, stupid mistakes and turnovers. It puts our season in perspective."

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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