Originally created 09/16/99

By speaking up, Smith sparked comeback

IRVING, Texas -- Emmitt Smith was tired of seeing the Dallas Cowboys throw incompletion after incompletion, so took his complaint to the boss, coach Chan Gailey.

Speaking with more passion and volume than usual, Smith reminded Gailey how well they had been running the ball against Washington. The passing game, he noted, wasn't working and the Redskins were building a big lead.

Gailey sensed Smith's determination and gave in. He called runs on the next eight plays and ended up triggering one of the best comebacks in franchise history as Dallas turned a 35-14 deficit into a 41-35 overtime victory Sunday.

Although the glow of that game is wearing off as the Cowboys prepare to play Atlanta on Monday night, there's still talk about Smith's emotional outburst -- and Smith doesn't like it.

Wearing the same steely glare, Smith on Wednesday shot down the notion that he challenged his coach and demanded the ball, and he insisted there are no problems between them.

"We're humans and humans have emotions," Smith said. "It's nice to let your emotions show sometimes. I felt like it was an appropriate time for everyone to let them go.

"I'm not trying to create some kind of controversy between me and my head coach because I have a great deal of respect for my head coach. I believe in what we're doing, in our offensive system and in our team."

Smith said he puts so much time and energy into preparing for the season that there would've been something wrong if he hadn't spoken up.

"You go through training camp, two-a-days in the heat, people hollering at you and then when you get in the middle of a very heated game and you're behind by 21, you've got to have some kind of emotions," he said.

"The emotions drive you to come back and push it into overtime. The emotions also help you go into overtime and pull it out. That's what the game is all about.

"If you take out the emotional part of the game, you've just got a doggone chess match."

The Cowboys led 14-13 at halftime and ran on their first two plays of the third quarter. They then passed on nine of the next 10, resulting in an interception and two punts -- and three straight Redskins touchdowns.

Gailey admitted he goofed on his play calling.

"After going back and watching the film, I'd probably change that and run the ball a little more in the third quarter," he said. "At the time, I thought we were doing the right thing."

After Dallas returned to the ground game, Smith and backup Chris Warren moved the chains and kept the Washington defense from laying back waiting for Troy Aikman to throw. Once the Redskins began thinking run, the Cowboys hit them with passes.

Gailey's theory of keeping the defense off balance ultimately led to the game-winning play.

With Dallas facing third-and-2 from its 24, the Redskins expected a handoff to Smith. Instead, Aikman faked the exchange and threw deep to Raghib Ismail, whose nearest defender was sucked in on the play action. Ismail cruised to a 76-yard touchdown, capping a 21-point comeback that matched the biggest in franchise history.

"Chan is the head coach and he got it under control," Smith said. "We got the running game going and things went back to clicking like they were in the first quarter.

"So it all worked out."


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