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 Dallas beat Carolina 16-13 in overtime.
Tim Seder's 24-yard field goal lifted Dallas (2-3) over struggling Carolina (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," said Aikman. "And the offensive line was also playing very well, so I knew this was going to be a big day for Emmitt."
So did Dallas coach Dave Campo, who has been waiting for Smith to break out this season. Smith came into the game with just 202 yards in the Cowboys' first four contests.
"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 sprained his left knee and left ankle early in the first quarter. But he shook it off on the sidelines and didn't miss 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 poor day from Aikman, who finished just 15-of-23 for 131 yards and two interceptions.
But Aikman and Smith came up big when they needed to in overtime after Seder failed to win it in regulation when his 45-yard 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 on 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 threw a short pass to Jason Tucker, Smith gained 3 yards, and Aikman converted a third-and-3 with a 23-yard pass to Chris Warren that moved the Cowboys to the 6.
Seder kicked the winning field goal on the next play.
"That guy under center can take a team with wounded receivers and win the football game," Campo said. "We've got some fighters on this team, I'll tell you that."
The Cowboys, coming off a humiliating 41-24 loss to San Francisco in which 49ers receiver Terrell Owens mocked the Cowboys by celebrating his two touchdowns at midfield, didn't allow Carolina to commemorate anything.
Carolina running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka lost two of three fumbles to end drives and was flagged for pass interference late in the fourth quarter.
"It's hard to swallow and I've got to find a way to shake it off," Biakabutuka said. "I'm supposed to be one of the main weapons on the team. In order for the coach to trust you with the ball in your hands, you've got to hold on to it, and I'm not doing a good job of doing that right now."
Carolina also gave Dallas a safety -- the Panthers' second straight game allowing one -- when punter Ken Walter muffed a snap and had to fall on the ball in the end zone.
Tied at 13 with 6:25 to play, Carolina had a fourth-and-1 play at the Dallas 30. Instead of sending in Richie Cunningham -- who had already kicked two field goals -- the Panthers decided to go for it. But Steve Beuerlein's pass fell well short of intended target Isaac Byrd and Dallas took over on downs.
"From the standpoint of going for it, I can chalk it up to arrogance," Carolina coach George Seifert said. "I thought we could make the play."
The Cowboys then used up most of the clock by moving to the Carolina 27, only to come up short when Seder missed his field goal attempt.
But Carolina, which got the ball back with 1:02 to play, couldn't do anything to move the ball. Beuerlein threw three incomplete passes -- one that was almost intercepted when Darren Woodson just missed catching Biakabutuka's drop.
The Cowboys, who have allowed two runners to rush for more than 200 yards against them this season, held Biakabutuka to 86 yards.
Seder's missed field goal in regulation was his first miss of the season. He's 8-for-9. ... Biakabutuka needs just 34 yards to break Carolina's career rushing record of 2,001 set by Fred Lane. ... Dallas receiver Raghib Ismail, already nursing a sprained ankle, left in the second half with an injured right calf. He did not return. ... Carolina got sacks from Reggie White and Eric Swann, its two offseason acquisitions to help improve the pass rush.