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Cowboys Are Right on Schedule

September 29, 1997|From Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys reversed their September fortunes of a year ago.

Troy Aikman burned the blitzing Chicago defense with two touchdown passes, the Dallas defense hounded Rick Mirer into critical mistakes and Deion Sanders pranced 83 yards for a touchdown on a punt return in the Cowboys' 27-3 victory over the winless Bears on Sunday.

Dallas finished September 3-1 and accomplished a goal set by Coach Barry Switzer in training camp. The Cowboys made the playoffs after starting 1-3 last year, but couldn't overcome a home-field disadvantage at Carolina.

"One of our goals was to get off to a faster start this year and we've turned September around," Switzer said.

It wasn't easy for Dallas despite having two weeks to get ready for 14-point underdog Chicago, which is 0-5 and off to its worst start since 1969. The Bears came into the game yielding an NFL-worst 32 points per game.

"Chicago is a sellout blitz team," Switzer said. "They rolled the dice. They won some. They lost some. We hit the big plays."

Aikman said the Cowboys can't be totally pleased with their start.

"It's a Catch-22, we're 3 and 1 and we're pleased," Aikman said. "But if you ask me, we've got to do a better job. From that standpoint, my enthusiasm is a bit tempered."

Dallas held a shaky 7-3 halftime lead before Aikman finally got the offense going.

After a 48-yard drive set up Richie Cunningham's 33-yard field goal, Aikman guided Dallas on a 60-yard touchdown drive. He overcame an all-out Chicago blitz and passed to Michael Irvin, who beat his man, Walt Harris, on a quick slant pattern for a 26-yard scoring play.

Emmitt Smith failed to score a touchdown for his fourth consecutive game, a record for futility in his career as a Cowboy. He gained 43 yards in 13 carries.

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