Originally created 09/07/98

Aikman leads Cowboys in rout



IRVING, Texas -- Chan Gailey promised a new offensive philosophy for the Dallas Cowboys. Nobody dreamed it would include Troy Aikman running for touchdowns.

The Gailey era began for the Cowboys on Sunday with Aikman running for two touchdowns and passing for two more in a 38-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

"I told Troy I wasn't trying to turn him into our leading touchdown-maker this year," Gailey said after the game. "He made some great runs."

As for his first NFL coaching win, the former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator, said, "I'm pleased, but nobody wants to hurt their arm patting themselves on the back. "

It was enough on this 100-degree day to warm the heart of an old Wishbone coach like Barry Switzer, who was replaced by Gailey after a disastrous 6-10 season.

Aikman said he's not turning into another Kordell Stewart, who ran a lot for Gailey at Pittsburgh.

"I don't think we're going to it more than in the past," Aikman said. "The shotgun lends itself to the quarterback running more."

I've never had two touchdowns in a season before, except maybe back in high school, I guess."

The win snapped a 10-game franchise losing streak, which included five Gailey-coached exhibition games and the last five of the 1997 regular season, stretching back to November.

Aikman, who left Oklahoma for UCLA because Switzer used the Wishbone, ran for two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career. In fact, he had never scored two touchdowns in a season since he started as a rookie in 1989.

"I've never had two touchdowns in a season before, except maybe back in high school, I guess," he said. "This was a big start for us. It's something to build on."

Gailey was asked if it made him nervous to see Aikman run.

"Nervous?" Gailey said. "They (the Cardinals) ought to be nervous."

Aikman asked owner Jerry Jones to give the game ball to Gailey.

"I couldn't be prouder," Gailey said. "A lot of things came together for this team, but we still haven't arrived."

Aikman yielded an interception and lost a fumble before he took the Cowboys on a 78-yard scoring drive in the second period. The big play came on a 37-yard pass to Michael Irvin, who made an over-the-shoulder catch despite tight coverage by Aeneas Williams.

After a holding penalty, Aikman hit Billy Davis with a 13-yard pass to the 19. The Dallas running game took over and Aikman himself scored himself from the 6-inch line. It was Aikman's first touchdown since Nov. 10, 1996 against San Francisco and only the seventh of his career.

Aikman struck again on the Cowboys' next possession. After a 15-yard pass to Irvin, Aikman found Ernie Mills on a 30-yard touchdown pass.

Aikman directed Dallas on a 59-yard drive in the third period. He scrambled when a pass play broke down and circled right end for the touchdown from the 2.

Crazy-legs Aikman was at it again in the fourth period, scrambling 17 yards for a first down on third-and-8 from the Arizona 27. It set up a 7-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Aikman also had a 23-yard run, his longest since he was a rookie and second longest in his career. He finished with 40 yards on five carries. He had a career-high 71 yards in 1989.

Aikman completed 22 of 32 passes for 256 yards and Emmitt Smith rushed 28 times for 122 yards.

Safety Tommy Bennett picked off a pass in the third period and returned it 30 yards to the Dallas 29. Jake Plummer hit Johnny McWilliams on a 17-yard pass and then scored on a 1-yard bootleg run to cut the deficit to 21-10.

"It was a real frustrating game," said Plummer, who was was 14-for-32 for 166 yards. "We didn't convert on third down and if you do that you're not going to win. The offense can take a big hit for this one.

"We had guys open and we dropped balls and then I missed them. You can't do that."

Gailey joined Switzer as the only Dallas coach to win his first game. Switzer did so in 1994, while Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson lost their debuts.

Arizona coach Vince Tobin said nothing went right.

"I'm trying to think of one area I can be pleased with and I can't," he said. " We couldn't sustain a drive. We went 0-for-10 on third down. That will hurt you."

[bf]Notes:[nf] Dallas offensive lineman Erik Williams and Arizona defensive lineman Eric Swann were ejected for fighting in the first period ... The Cowboys sold out Texas Stadium for the 64th consecutive time and 130th overall, dating back to Dec. 16, 1990, against the Cardinals ... Smith passed O.J. Simpson into 10th place on the career rushing list. Simpson had 11,236 yards. Smith has 11,356 yards ... Irvin had nine catches for 119 yards.