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Hutchinson Throws Strikes

November 25, 2002|From Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — Although Chad Hutchinson stumbled through his first three games with sacks, fumbles and losses, Dallas Cowboy coaches found plenty of things to praise. Each week they insisted they saw reasons why he can be their quarterback of the future.

The evidence was a bit more obvious Sunday.

Hutchinson threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, and looked in command while doing so, leading Dallas to a 21-19 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Hutchinson completed 16 of 24 passes, including ones that went for 49, 47 and 43 yards, while throwing for the most yards by a Dallas rookie since Troy Aikman set the team record with 379 in 1989.

"I thought he was excellent," running back Emmitt Smith said. "He was poised when he had time to throw and when he had time, he hit the right receivers."

Hutchinson occasionally looked like a 25-year-old rookie who spent four years pitching in the St. Louis Cardinal organization. He was sacked three times and threw his first two interceptions.

The key, though, is that he minimized the damage and showed the leadership the Cowboys (4-7) are seeking.

Dallas had three offensive touchdowns for the first time this season, with the scoring drives covering 99, 69 and 65 yards. The Cowboys had lost four in a row, the last three since Hutchinson replaced Quincy Carter.

"Any time you go out and win, they look at you as a winner," Hutchinson said. "We knew there was an opportunity for big plays. We knew we had to be patient. I was just fortunate enough to put it in places where they could make plays."

Joey Galloway caught seven passes for 144 yards and both touchdowns. The improved passing game also helped make the running game more effective.

All the talk of Smith sharing time with Troy Hambrick didn't materialize. Smith ran 20 times for 73 yards and a touchdown and Hambrick had 38 yards in four carries. Hambrick also had 33 yards on three receptions but fumbled at the end of one deep in Jaguar territory.

Jacksonville (5-6) had won its previous two games to climb into playoff contention. To make the playoffs, Coach Tom Coughlin said the Jaguars had no margin for error.

But Jacksonville made plenty of mistakes against Dallas, the worst being a goal-line fumble by Fred Taylor midway through the fourth quarter that Coughlin called "a nightmare." They also had Tim Seder miss a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter and had a season-high 11 penalties.

"We're back in the hole again," cornerback Jason Craft said.

Hutchinson opened the second half with the 99-yard drive, connecting on six of seven passes for 88 yards.

"Going 99 yards I'm sure surprised everyone," Galloway said. "We knew we had the talent, but it just hadn't been happening."

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