It was also on that drive that Philly's most pivotal moment occurred, an innocuous five-yard gain by Emmitt Smith to the Eagle 25 that could have turned the game. All-Pro Seth Joyner, the Eagles' best blitzer and coverage linebacker, went down, holding his left knee. Then he was up, hobbling into the end zone, jogging back, trying to run it off. "I thought the ref would call an injury timeout, but he didn't. So I called it myself," free safety Wes Hopkins said later. "We didn't even have a defense called, and you know what that means. Six points."
"I was scared to death," defensive coordinator Bud Carson added. "I didn't know whether to pull him out or leave him in or what. I was cursing myself for not giving his backup, Kenny Rose, enough repetitions in practice. You can bet that I will from now on."
"You go to the bench and have it iced, and it stiffens and you're through," Joyner said. "I told Bud during the timeout, 'Let me stay in as long as I'm not hurting us.' "
On their next play the Cowboys got the first down, which set up their touchdown, on an 11-yard pass to tight end Jay Novacek, who beat the gimpy Joyner. Later in the first quarter Aikman found Novacek, again being covered by Joyner, for a 17-yarder, and in the second quarter Novacek beat Joyner once more, for a nine-yard completion. And that was the last yardage Joyner gave up in the game.
"We don't blitz these days," Carson said, "but I knew we had to, to shake 'em up and make things happen. Seth's our best blitzer. What do I do? Then he told me, 'The hell with it. Let me try.' "
Philly called five blitzes in the game, including four by Joyner. The Eagles came out ahead on three of those four: On the first of them, Aikman threw incomplete; then linebacker Byron Evans intercepted Aikman early in the third quarter to set up the touchdown that gave Philly a 17-7 lead; and the final blitz, on Dallas's next series, created one of the night's weirder plays, one that put the game away.
Joyner pressured Aikman into a dump-off pass to fullback Daryl Johnston, and Evans was waiting. "I read it all the way," he said. "I drilled him, and he gave it up." The loose ball was caught by Dallas guard John Gesek, who was promptly nailed by tackle Andy Harmon, and this time the fumble was recovered by Eagle linebacker William Thomas at the Philly 48. That set up Walker's second touchdown, a 16-yard run early in the fourth quarter that made the score 24-7. Party time.
So the Eagles shook things up with a big-play defense and won the turnover battle 4-1. What else is new? Well, there's Walker, who's running and reading out of his comfort zone, the deep-back position in the I formation. And the offensive line, which has been so maligned for years, is now a weighty and effective drive-blocking unit. Notable was the job the left side, tackle Ron Heller and guard Mike Schad, did on the Cowboys' new sack specialist, former 49er Charles Haley. One tackle, no assists and one quarterback pressure was Haley's total for the night.
And how about Cunningham, who came into the game as the NFL's highest-rated passer but whose stats were modest Monday night (11 for 19,124 yards, no TDs, one interception)? Well, Randall is still Randall—make the quick read and, if the pass isn't there, take off. He had seven carries, 43 yards and a touchdown. It's not a bad way to travel. Cunningham is now 8-1 versus the Cowboys; Aikman is 0-5 versus the Eagles. Dallas will get another chance against Philadelphia on Nov. 1 at Texas Stadium.
"We're human," Cowboy left guard Nate Newton said. "They beat us. They beat us handily. But they didn't kill Troy Aikman or put Emmitt Smith's fire out. The bad guys win sometimes. We just have to face it. We can't let one game ruin our season."