IRVING, Tex. — So much for the Deion Sanders contract negotiations distracting the Dallas Cowboys. Seems there's nothing like a good circus atmosphere to bring out the best in Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
Aikman accounted for three touchdowns and Smith rushed for more than 100 yards and scored a touchdown as Dallas defeated the Denver Broncos, 31-21, on Sunday.
"This team is used to having a lot going on around the periphery," Aikman said. "It was pretty extreme this week, but we did a good job of handling it. I just don't want another week of questions about Deion's impact."
Aikman was even pulled off the practice field this week to discuss restructuring his contract as the Sanders negotiations heated up. He gave up $2 million so Dallas could sign the two-sport star for almost $30 million.
Aikman started slow and finished fast as he threw two touchdown passes and jumped like a springboard diver for another.
"We did the things we hoped to do," Aikman said. "The coaches didn't like me running for a touchdown, but if I see seven points I go for it."
Smith, who needed smelling salts after a particularly hard hit, came back to score his 80th career touchdown on a one-yard run. Smith, who had four touchdowns in a 35-0 victory over the New York Giants Monday night, rushed 26 times for 114 yards.
"This team did a great job of putting the Deion talk aside and getting down to business," Smith said.
Wide receiver Michael Irvin said the Cowboys overcame a concentration-busting week.
"It was a great win because all week the talk was Deion, Deion, Deion," Irvin said. "This isn't an excuse, but we weren't sharp."
For Dallas, it was the 26th victory in the last 32 regular-season games. The game was played at a Texas Stadium decked out with logos from Nike, the company whose sponsorship of the Cowboys angered the NFL.
"All this stuff going on was a total distraction," said Dallas Coach Barry Switzer. "But I liked our performance. Troy was steady Troy, like he usually is."
John Elway threw touchdown passes of 11 and 59 yards to Anthony Miller as the Dallas secondary showed signs of needing Sanders as soon as possible.
However, cornerback Larry Brown intercepted Elway, and Charles Haley had two sacks as the Denver offense failed to match Dallas' firepower.
"If there were any distractions this week, Dallas did a great job of dealing with them," said Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan. "It didn't show. The defense kept the pressure on John, and the offense was typical Dallas."
Elway said the Dallas defense kept him off-balance.
"I didn't throw the ball well early. We had our chances. We didn't help our defense," he said.