Walls, who led the NFL in interceptions two out of the last three years, had a nightmare performance. In the first quarter the Giants tested him with a little curl pattern to Byron Williams, a 15-yard gain at most. Walls missed the tackle and the play became a 62-yard TD. In their last series of the quarter, after free safety Terry Kinard's 29-yard interception return gave the Giants a first down on the Dallas 16, they went at Walls again, this time with Lionel Manuel, who didn't play a down at wideout in the Giants' opener against Philadelphia.
"We were waiting to use him for that position on the field," Parcells said. "He's got the quickest cuts of all our receivers. It's a play we practiced all week, an inside move and then a quick outcut. Ron Erhardt, our offensive coordinator, said, 'Do you want to try it right here?' and I said, 'O.K. let's go.' "
The shocking thing wasn't that the Giants got a touchdown out of it, but how completely the rookie faked Walls, a four-year veteran. "I was surprised he overplayed me inside," Manuel said. "As soon as I made my cut I knew I had him."
The TD made it 14-0. The next Dallas series ended with Headen's scoring gallop with the fumble, and the rout was on. After the game the Cowboys seemed dazed. Maybe it was the residue from a short work week, following their highly emotional 20-13 Monday night win over the Rams. Perhaps it was the shock of getting beaten so thoroughly by a team they'd feasted on for years—15 wins out of the previous 17 games. Maybe it was the knowledge that when things start off badly, they're not always going to find a way to win, as they did against the Rams. Sometimes things just get worse.
Tom Landry seemed stunned.
"We weren't moving the ball," he said after the game. "We didn't do anything. Our whole team just flattened out."
Why hadn't the Cowboys called more safety blitzes, which had unhinged Ram quarterback Vince Ferragamo?
"I don't know," he said.
Hogeboom, who had edged Danny White in the quarterback battle heard round the world, came down to earth after his record-setting 33-completion night against the Rams. His numbers in the Giant game were 21 of 43 for 242 yards, one TD and one interception, but he never really had a chance. He was sacked five times and pressured a lot more, and his receivers dropped four of his passes.
Landry made his decision to switch to Hogeboom the week before the regular season because Hogie, an outgoing kind of guy who picks up the team around him, likes to go downfield, and his teammates could tune in more readily to this Roger Staubach-type approach rather than to White's conservative style. But against New York, Dallas went the dumpoff route, throwing mainly to the backs, and White probably would've been better at it than Hogeboom. Of Hogeboom's first 14 passes, only three went to the wide receivers, and none was caught. It was only after the Cowboys fell behind by two touchdowns that Hogeboom started looking to his wideouts. The Giants' rush didn't give him much time to go deep, but of even greater concern to Landry is the Cowboys' wide-receiver crew.