In a battle of heavyweight quarterbacks who have combined to pound out four Super Bowl titles, neither Dallas' Troy Aikman nor Denver's John Elway was standing at the finish. But Terrell Davis was.
Aikman was lost for 4-8 weeks with a broken left collarbone sustained in the second quarter, and Elway went to the sideline in the fourth quarter with a strained right hamstring of undetermined severity.Davis, meanwhile, ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Denver Broncos rout the Dallas Cowboys 42-23 on Sunday.
"The offensive line gave me some creases," said Davis, who had touchdown runs of 63 and 59 yards in the first quarter. "The O-line got on the defensive linemen and the linebackers and left me one-on-one with some safeties and cornerbacks. I know I'm not going to run like this every week."
With the score tied 7-7, Davis went up the middle, bounced outside and, untouched, outran three defenders down the left sideline for 63 yards.
The next time he touched the ball, Davis started left, cut back and dashed 59 yards for a 21-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Davis carried six times for 138 yards in the first period alone. He added a 3-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Asked his impression of Davis, Dallas cornerback Deion Sanders said, "Wonderful, man. Being out there on the same field is such a treat. I wish I wouldn't have watched him so much and tried to catch him."
Broncos fullback Howard Griffith said "every time he touches the ball, he has an opportunity to score. There are so many ways for this team to score anyway."
Elway, for example. Before his injury, Elway completed 16 of 22 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.
The Broncos, who finished with 515 total yards, scored touchdowns on their first five possessions to take a 35-17 lead at halftime. Elway completed 11 of 13 passes for 217 yards in the half, and Denver generated 379 total yards in the half compared to Dallas' 209.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a team go five series and get five touchdowns in the first half," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "It doesn't get much better than that."
After Dallas (1-1) closed to 35-23 on two field goals by Richie Cunningham, the Broncos fashioned their fifth scoring drive of at least 80 yards, capped by Davis' third score.
Elway departed after straining his hamstring on a hand-off during the drive, and backup Bubby Brister passed 38 yards to Ed McCaffrey to set up the score.
Jason Garrett also played well in Aikman's absence, but on all three of his scoring drives, the Cowboys had to settle for field goals.
The Cowboys lost Aikman midway through the second quarter when he scrambled for a 6-yard gain and was hit by two defenders.
"I landed on the shoulder," Aikman said. "I got hit after I was on the ground, but I don't think that was so much it as much as it was just the awkwardness in which I fell on the shoulder."
Dallas' Emmitt Smith rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown and increased his career total to 11,451 yards, moving past Buffalo's Thurman Thomas into eighth place in NFL history. Thomas has 11,405.