IRVING, Texas (AP)
With a new set of Triplets on offense, the Dallas Cowboys played a vintage
game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Rookie Quincy Carter threw two touchdown
passes, including a 47-yarder to Joey Galloway, and ran for another, and
Emmitt Smith rushed for 126 yards, carrying the Cowboys to a 27-21 victory
over the 49ers in a game reminiscent of the rivalry's mid-1990s heyday.
Dallas (5-10) beat San Francisco(11-4)
for only the second time in the last seven meetings. While the Cowboys
paid back the 49ers for last season's midfield antics by Terrell Owens,
more satisfying to them was possibly redirecting San Francisco's postseason
The 49ers are assured of a wild card
and are likely to play Green Bay in the first round. San Francisco must
finish ahead of the Packers (11-4) to have the game at home instead of
traveling to the cold of Lambeau Field.
Carter, the heir to Troy Aikman who
talked all week about the excitement of being part of the Dallas-San Francisco
rivalry, was 15-of-25 for 241 yards, easily the most for any of the Cowboys'
four quarterbacks this season. He also had 30 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Galloway, acquired from Seattle for
two first-round picks before last season to replace Michael Irvin as the
Cowboys' No. 1 receiver, caught six passes for a career-high 146 yards.
It was his first 100-yard game in Dallas.
And Smith, one of only two holdovers
from Dallas' three Super Bowl teams, went over 16,000 yards in his career
and moved within 56 yards of 1,000 this season. He's trying to become the
first player to have 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons; he shares the mark
of 10 with Barry Sanders and will try breaking it next Sunday in Detroit.
Carter used his feet and arm to guide
three straight scoring drives to start the second half: his own 1-yard
run that might not have crossed the goal line, the long pass to Galloway
and a 20-yard field goal by Jon Hilbert.
With the defense limiting the 49ers
to two first downs on their three ensuing possession, the Cowboys turned
a 14-10 halftime deficit into a 27-14 lead.
San Francisco reached the 5 on the
next series, but Jeff Garcia threw four straight incompletions - including
one knocked away from Owens by George Teague, the safety who was ejected
from last year's game for tackling Owens after the second of his two post-touchdown
celebrations on the Dallas logo.
The 49ers got the ball back after
blocking a punt, and Garcia threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Stokes
with 39 seconds left. San Francisco tried an onside kick, but it was recovered
by Dallas, sealing the Cowboys' best game of the season and one of the
most disappointing for the 49ers.
Garcia was 21-of-36 for 229 yards
and two touchdowns. His 6-yard scoring run put the 49ers up 7-3, and a
7-yard TD pass to Stokes with 12 seconds left in the second quarter provided
the halftime lead.
Carter got the third quarter going
with a wobbly 44-yard pass to Galloway and appeared to cap the drive with
a 3-yard TD run. But San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci successfully challenged
the call, with officials saying Carter's elbow touched down before he stretched
the ball over the goal line.
Carter ran into the middle on the
next play and was ruled in, although replays showed he probably didn't
make it. Mariucci - who would've been out of challenges if he questioned
it, regardless of the result - held onto his red flag this time.
Carter highlighted the next drive
with a 9-yard run up the middle on third-and-8. On the next play, he slipped
while dropping back, but recovered to heave the ball to Galloway for the