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Mr. Smith Goes Back to Work

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Emmitt Smith is due for a breakout game, Troy Aikman can just feel it.

Aikman got that feeling Sunday, and Smith proved him right by rushing for a season-high 132 yards and the 150th touchdown of his career as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Carolina Panthers, 16-13, in overtime.

Tim Seder's 24-yard field goal lifted the Cowboys (2-3) over the struggling Panthers (1-3).

But it was Smith who made it possible with his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

"I sensed early that he was feeling pretty good," Aikman said. "And the offensive line was also playing very well, so I knew this was going to be a big day for Emmitt."

So did Cowboy Coach Dave Campo, who has been waiting for Smith to break out this season. Smith had only 202 yards rushing in the Cowboys' first four games.

"Emmitt Smith is a warrior," Campo said. "Anyone that says anything about Emmitt Smith is looking at the wrong film on the wrong day."

It wasn't a vintage game for Smith, but it was still an accomplishment considering he suffered a sprained left knee and left ankle early in the first quarter. But he shook it off on the sidelines and didn't sit out a single series.

"Both my ankles rolled over my knees, even my hips popped," Smith said. "It adjusted my entire lower body, but it wasn't enough to keep me out."

The Cowboys needed Smith to help overcome a mediocre game by Aikman, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 131 yards, with two interceptions.

But Aikman and Smith came up big when they needed to in overtime after Seder failed to win the game in regulation when his 45-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left with 1:06 to play.

Dallas won the coin toss, then Aikman hooked up with James McKnight on a 19-yard gain, and Smith gained 10 yards in two carries to move Dallas to the Carolina 44.

On the next play, Aikman spotted tight end Jackie Harris in heavy coverage and zipped the ball toward him just as Carolina's Dean Wells grabbed Harris. Dallas got the pass-interference call to move to the 36.

Aikman then completed a short pass to Jason Tucker, Smith gained three yards and Aikman converted a third-and-three with a 23-yard pass play to Chris Warren that moved the Cowboys to the six.

Seder kicked the winning field goal on the next play.

The Cowboys, coming off a humiliating 41-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which 49er receiver Terrell Owens mocked the Cowboys by celebrating his two touchdowns at midfield, allowed only one touchdown--a one-yard run by Tim Biakabatuka.

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