Hall's well that ends well
Jets keep Cowboys from making move with 22-21 win
Posted: Monday December 20, 1999 12:43 AM
Dallas' Emmitt Smith rushed for more than 100 yards in a game for the seventh time this season. AP
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Add another near-miss to a Dallas Cowboys season filled with near-misses.
On a day when a victory would've given the Cowboys some breathing room in the NFC playoff picture, Dallas saw the New York Jets pull out a 22-21 victory Sunday with a 37-yard field goal by John Hall with 1:35 left.
"We had a real opportunity, and we let it go," said Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who had a lousy day. "We dug ourselves in a real hole."
This was the fourth time this season the Cowboys (7-7) have lost by four points or less. Their first home loss couldn't have come at a worse time because a victory would've tied Washington for first place in the NFC East and helped them pull away in the wild-card race.
Instead, Dallas stayed in a second-place tie with the New York Giants, who lost to St. Louis. The Redskins hold a one-game lead.
"No one in this division wants to step up," Cowboys offensive lineman Erik Williams said. "We have to keep pushing."
The Jets (6-8) did another nice job of playing spoiler, a role they've been forced into since a 1-6 start. New York beat Miami 28-20 with a big fourth quarter last week.
"It's a misconception among lay people that you have nothing to play for," Jets coach Bill Parcells said. "If you like competition and you like football, you're going to be ready to play. That's not always going to happen, but there's never nothing to play for."
The Cowboys led 21-13 one drive into the second half, but couldn't put the Jets away -- not even after taking over at the New York 36 after a fumbled snap. Aikman wasted that chance with an interception in the end zone. It was his second interception in three throws after going 216 attempts without one.
Aikman finished 12-of-28 for 158 yards with a touchdown. He completed only one of five passes on Dallas' final drive.
The turnovers didn't hurt the Cowboys as badly as their other season-long bugaboos: penalties (seven for 92 yards, including a 34-yard pass interference that led to New York's first touchdown) and failure to convert third downs (3-of-12, just one in the first three quarters).
The Jets weren't very smooth either until their final drive: 11 plays, 41 yards over 4:16, forcing Dallas to burn all three of its timeouts.
Curtis Martin, who had 49 fourth-quarter yards last week, had 38 on nine carries during the drive to finish with 114 yards.
"I was looking at the faces of our offensive linemen and knew we would drive the ball down there and at least get a field goal," New York quarterback Ray Lucas said. "They were fantastic and that's why we won it."
The Cowboys defense ended a five-game streak of holding foes to 13 or fewer points; allowed a 100-yard rusher for just the third time and gave up 355 yards, their most since the opener.
"We just didn't get it done," defensive coordinator Dave Campo said.
Hall gave the Jets a 6-0 lead with field goals of 47 and 33 yards on their first two drives. He also missed a 49-yarder as the first half ended that would've put New York up 16-14.
Dallas led 7-6 on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Emmitt Smith, then made it 14-13 on a 20-yard touchdown by Eric Bjornson on a fake field goal. A 27-yard touchdown on an end-around by Raghib Ismail made it 21-13.
New York almost tied it on the next drive as Lucas threw a 2-yard touchdown to rookie Blake Spence, but the quarterback was stopped a yard short on a 2-point conversion attempt.
From then on, it was a stalemate. The teams traded turnovers twice, including two interceptions within three snaps.
The anticipated showdown of Keyshawn Johnson vs. Deion Sanders never materialized. Sanders covered Johnson about 15 times, and Lucas threw elsewhere every time.
"I think it was more hype than anything," Johnson said. "It was fun to get the opportunity to play against him and run around the field."
Wayne Chrebet was the beneficiary of the Sanders-Johnson duel as he caught eight passes for a season-high 108 yards. Johnson, often freed from Sanders on clever play-calling by Parcells, caught six passes for 96 yards.
Lucas finished 20-for-34 and 229 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His other scoring pass was a 1-yarder to Richie Anderson.
Smith, playing on a strained groin that limited him to one carry last week, had 110 yards on 19 carries.
His touchdown catch was the 146th TD of his career, passing Marcus Allen for No. 2 on the career list behind Jerry Rice. It also made him the leading scorer in Cowboys history.
Notes: The Jets improved to 2-5 against the Cowboys. The last time they played at Texas Stadium was 1971 in the fourth-ever game of the stadium. ... Smith has now rushed for 100 yards against 20 teams. His second-quarter touchdown also moved him past Tony Dorsett for No. 8 on the career rushing-receiving list. ... Hall's 47-yard field goal was a season high. ... Ismail's rushing touchdown was the second of his career and first since Nov. 10, 1996. Bjornson scored on a fake field goal run almost exactly a year before. ... The Jets, who lead the league in fourth-down attempts, had another on a fake punt in the third quarter. Tom Tupa's wobbly sidearm attempt was incomplete.
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