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THE NFL / 1996

A Giant Nightmare for Cowboys, 20-6

NFC: Switzer's fears about a letdown are realized; Smith held to 18 yards and benched.

November 25, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was Barry Switzer's worst nightmare.

Not only did the Dallas Cowboys have that feared letdown against the New York Giants, it was his biggest players who let him down--Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.

Sanders, Irvin and Aikman made crucial mistakes that either led to New York points or took them away from Dallas in a 20-6 loss to the Giants on Sunday.

The Giants' defense forced five turnovers and limited Smith to 18 yards rushing.

Switzer, who benched Smith in favor of Sherman Williams in the fourth quarter, said, "We stunk. We didn't take care of our business. We gave them four turnovers that led to points."

Actually, only two of the turnovers led to points, but one really cost the Cowboys (7-5).

Safety Tito Wooten broke the game open by returning an Irvin fumble 54 yards for a touchdown just before halftime for a 13-3 lead. Brad Daluiso kicked two second-quarter field goals, and Dave Brown added a clinching four-yard touchdown pass to Brian Kozlowski with 6:01 left as the Giants (5-7) ended a two-game losing streak.

"It was a combination of things, but basically they made the plays and we didn't," Irvin said. "You don't look past teams in this league, but we weren't as emotional as we had been the last two games. We were nowhere near the emotional level we need to be at to win this game."

Switzer had expressed concerns about a letdown all week.

Dallas had won six of seven, and was coming off a stretch where it beat Green Bay, San Francisco ald Miami. The Cowboys were also looking forward to a Thanksgiving Day showdown against NFC East leader Washington (8-4).

So Switzer was worried that his players wouldn't be up for the Giants, who were beaten by the Cowboys, 27-0, earlier this season.

The Giants won, despite being outgained, 305 yards to 215.

For the second consecutive week, kicker Chris Boniol supplied the Cowboy offense, with field goals of 31 and 37 yards.

"It's crazy," Sanders said. "We haven't scored a touchdown in eight quarters. But this wasn't a trap. We just didn't play well."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Uncharacteristic Performance

Emmitt Smith's 18-yard rushing performance against the New York Giants was uncharacteristic of his perforance against that team. A look at the teams he has averaged the most yards-per-carry against (minimum 3 games).

*--*

Team Yds Avg Atlanta 536 5.4 New York Giants 1,126 4.9 Philadelphia 1,334 4.9 Washington 1,150 4.8 Detroit 276 4.3

*--*

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