IRVING, Tex. — Tom Landry used a new trick on an old friend to knock the St. Louis Cardinals out of the National Football Conference playoff picture Sunday.
A 5-yard touchdown run by Dallas quarterback Steve Pelluer on a bootleg play, with Herschel Walker playing the perfect decoy, ended St. Louis' wild-card hopes as the Cowboys defeated the Cardinals, 21-16.
"It was the kind of play where you just hold your breath and run it," Dallas Coach Landry said. "I've never run a blind bootleg off that formation before.
"I felt bad for (Cardinal Coach) Gene (Stallings), but that's football. He's a great friend."
Stallings coached under Landry for 14 years before taking the St. Louis job last season.
It was the second time this week the Cowboys had played spoiler. They knocked the Rams out of the playoffs Monday night with a 29-21 victory.
"We took out some of our frustrations on some people," Landry said.
Walker rushed 25 times for 137 yards and caught 3 passes for 50 yards to close out the season in excellent form while Tony Dorsett, who said last week he wanted to be traded during the off-season, sat on the bench during the entire game.
Landry said Dorsett suffered a slight back injury in practice Saturday and that he became ill after taking medication. But the Cowboys' trainer said Dorsett had been cleared to play, and several of Dorsett's teammates said the Dallas running back was feeling fine.
The loss by the Cardinals (7-8) gave the remaining NFC wild-card spot to the Minnesota Vikings, who lost to Washington, 27-24, Saturday. The Cowboys also finished the season at 7-8, but claimed a tie for second place in the NFC East behind Washington.
Walker twice ran 11 yards for touchdowns in the second period to give Dallas a 14-10 halftime lead.
St. Louis' Neil Lomax threw a two-yard scoring pass to J.T. Smith with 20 seconds left in the half to keep the Cardinals close.
Dallas led, 14-13, after Al Del Greco's second field goal, but Walker caught a 31-yard pass from Pelluer. On third down from the 5, Pelluer spun around, faked a handoff to Walker, then sprinted untouched in the opposite direction for the touchdown with 10:13 left.
Del Greco kicked a third field goal of 37 yards with 5:37 to go.
The game was played before the smallest Texas Stadium crowd in history--36,788.