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SUPER BOWL XXVII : Novacek Takes It All in Stride : Cowboys: For the tight end, one of the best things about the game is he can now return to friends and family back home in Gothenburg, Neb.


It was a raucous locker room, as would befit a Dallas team that had just kicked the chips out of Buffalo. But in the midst of all the hoopla, Jay Novacek was the lonesome Cowboy.

It wasn't that the team's tight end isn't part of this great group, or that he isn't popular with his teammates. It was simply that, for a guy from Gothenburg, Neb., all the hootin' and hollerin' is not his style. He's clearly more at home on the range.

Oh, he smiled a lot through piercing blue eyes and posed for a couple of pictures with teammate Steve Beuerlein. But mostly, he seemed content to go find his parents and savor all this with a shrug.

But they found him, the people with pens and pencils, and dragged him out to a spot where he could be interviewed, where they could get some pearls of wisdom from the man who has become, arguably, the prototype tight end in the NFL.

He had, after all, started the rout for his super teammates in their 52-17 joy ride in Pasadena. With the Bills ahead, 7-0, Novacek caught a 23-yard scoring pass from Troy Aikman. That tied the score, and the rout was soon on.

So how did Novacek feel about the inspirational start he gave his teammates? How would he articulate the moment, one that certainly will live long and deep in his memory?

"I ran out, looked around and caught the ball," he said.

So much for pearls.

In a game in which guys with earrings do dances after making tackles for 10-yard gains with their team behind by 20 points, Novacek is a throwback. He does his talking with his play. What you saw was what you got. No need to talk about it. He's not shy, not unfriendly, he simply doesn't waste energy on lots of words.

On Aikman's most-valuable-player performance, which featured 22 completions in 30 attempts for 273 yards and four touchdowns, he said: "I'm not surprised he had a great game. Troy always handles things well."

On whether he felt tension and pressure going into this biggest of big games, he said: "Way I felt, we played a football game today. We played lots of them before this, and this was just another one."

On how he rated the Bills' defensive backs he faced all day, in his seven-catch, 72-yard performance: "I don't rate other players."

And on what he was thinking after he made his touchdown catch: "I was thinking about making another one."

He praised the Cowboys' offensive line for giving Aikman so much time to throw. He praised the Cowboys' defense for coming up with so many turnovers. And he praised his team for staying even-keeled all week.

"We just go out there and go about our business," Novacek said.

And then he said he was eager to get back to Nebraska, to see all the people in Gothenburg. He said he was going to the Pro Bowl, then he'd be back home.

"I like to go there. I never get a chance to see enough of those people," he said.

No offense to his teammates, but for Novacek, those are the real Cowboys.

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