"We had a lot of things on offense we never even got to," (tow-boys fullback Daryl Johnston said, 'like crossing patterns and things designed to mess up their coverages. We didn't have to. We just stuck to the out-patterns."
Miami was exposed as a team trying to match talent with youth, and it just didn't work. "I missed tackles. I played terribly," said middle linebacker Zach Thomas, who has been the eye-catcher among Johnson's rookies. "I was so high—you know, with all that pregame talk—that I tried to make too much happen. After the first quarter I ran out of energy."
One of the few Cowboys whose numbers were modest was Smith—22 carries, 74 yards. The Dolphins sacrificed some of the pass rush to make sure they shut Smith down, and they paid for it. There was one scary moment late in the first half when Smith's right leg was bent back under him on a tackle, the kind of play where they say on TV, "Here's the replay, but we advise you not to watch." He limped off. Two plays later he was back on the field. "I thought the ankle was broken at first," Smith said after the game. "But by the time I got to the sideline I was O.K. You do what you have to. You play."
It's called handling the pressure, and on this Sunday the Cowboys were the masters.