ST. LOUIS — For Neil Lomax, a St. Louis Cardinals quarterback who has had more downs than ups in recent years, the comeback victory was almost worth the wait.
"This is the best feeling I've experienced in the last two years," Lomax said after bringing St. Louis from behind in the final two minutes to a 24-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. "It's a beauty to beat Dallas the way we did."
Lomax, who in 1984 passed for 4,614 yards and 28 touchdowns, pierced Dallas' once-proud defense for 2 touchdowns in a span of 65 seconds just before the finish.
"I told Neil, 'Let's do it, let's go long,' " said Roy Green, who hauled in a 16-yard pass with 1:58 left and a 22-yard pass with 53 seconds left. "I got a little excited. It felt good, it really did."
Lomax completed 17 of 33 passes for 270 yards, and Green had 4 receptions for 90 yards.
During 1983 and 1984, Lomax threw 52 touchdown passes, and Green caught half of them.
Fullback Earl Ferrell's 15-yard run gave St. Louis its final touchdown with 19 seconds left after Bob Clasby recovered a Cowboy fumble caused by Curtis Greer, who had three quarterback sacks.
"I was just trying to kill the clock," said Ferrell, whose touchdown was his first in two years. "They (the Cowboys) were the ones calling the timeouts. I was just trying to make the last play last."
Lomax's two scoring passes and Ferrell's run rallied the Cardinals from a 13-3 deficit, with the go-ahead score coming after Dallas just missed an important first down while trying to use up the clock.
"We gave it away . . . We just didn't do the job. When we had to score the points, we couldn't do it," Cowboy Coach Tom Landry said. "It's always disappointing to lose, but there's not much you can do about it when the game's over."
St. Louis Coach Gene Stallings, a former Dallas assistant, reveled in his first victory over Landry and the Cowboys in three tries.
"They worried me all the time (during his tenure as Dallas defensive coach)," Stallings said of Lomax and Green. "Now I'm glad I've got them. We made some plays today, and now we're a little more confident."
It was the Cardinals' first victory in a home opener since they defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 23-20, in 1975. Dallas had won 21 of its 22 previous season openers.
Quarterback Danny White, who completed 20 of 32 passes for 256 yards, connected with Gordon Banks on a 20-yard play to put the Cowboys ahead, 13-3, with 13:18 remaining.
But the Cardinals, after squandering an opportunity, went 50 yards in four plays to draw close. Lomax's pass to Green made it 13-10 with 1:58 left.
St. Louis then moved 61 yards to go ahead, 17-13. Lomax completed 4 of 5 passes for 69 yards on the game-winning drive, which began at the Cardinal 31-yard line with 1:31 left.
Lomax found Stump Mitchell for a 25-yard gain that set up Green's go-ahead reception while tumbling into the corner of the Cowboy end zone.