The Dallas Cowboys are 4-0 on the season after beating the Arizona Cardinals 34-20 yesterday in their first match-up of the year.
Dallas jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game, an 8-play drive ending in a 2-yard touchdown grab by tight end Jay Novacek. After the defense forced a 3-and-out and a missed field goal, Troy Aikman led the team down the field once again on a 5-play drive capped off by a 6-yard touchdown rush by running back Emmitt Smith.
It was Smith’s first of two touchdowns yesterday, the second giving the Cowboys a commanding 21-3 lead in the second quarter. Smith tallied 21 carries for 116 yards. He has now rushed for over 100 yards in all four games, with 543 total yards and nine touchdowns. He is averaging 6.3 yards per carry on the season.
Arizona found the end zone for the first time and cut Dallas’ lead to 11 with six minutes to go in the first half, when quarterback Dave Krieg ended a 4-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to fullback Larry Centers. The Cowboys responded immediately with a 25-yard Chris Boniol field goal on a 12-play drive. Arizona would attempt to put together a scoring drive on their final possession of the half, but it was snuffed out when cornerback Alundis Brice picked off Krieg near midfield.
The Second Half
The Cardinals started with the ball after the half but were forced to punt after a holding penalty and a sack by Chad Hennings. Dallas took their first drive of the half 67 yards on 11 plays and increased the Cowboys’ lead to 27-10 on Boniol’s second field goal of the day, this one a 30-yarder.
Arizona responded with a Davis field goal on the following drive to cut the Dallas lead to 14, but that was as close as the Cardinals would get.
With just under four minutes to go in the game, cornerback Larry Brown intercepted a Krieg pass at the Dallas 18-yard line. Six plays later, second-round pick Sherman Williams rushed for his first NFL touchdown, a 44-yard jaunt that gave the Cowboys a 34-13 lead.
Krieg was picked off for the third time on the ensuing drive, this time by safety Brock Marion.
Two plays later, Williams fumbled, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Dallas 38-yard line. This would set up the Cardinals’ final touchdown of the game, a 25-yard pass to receiver Rob Moore. Dallas quarterback Wade Wilson came in after the failed onside kick to take two snaps in the victory formation, closing out the 34-20 win.
While receiver Michael Irvin did not see the end zone, he recorded his third 100-yard receiving game of the season with five catches for 105 yards. Aikman was 19-30 for 251 yards and one touchdown, giving him 921 yards and five touchdowns on the season with a 64% completion rate.
The Cowboys return to action on Sunday, Oct. 1 when they take on another divisional opponent in the Washington Redskins. The Redskins are 1-3 after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday.