Who needs Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith when Deion Sanders does it all?
"I don't have to tell you, he's a special athlete," Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett said. "He does some unbelievable things and he does them over and over and over again."
Garrett, making only his third career start for the injured Troy Aikman, connected with Billy Davis on an 80-yard TD pass and Sherman Williams ran 18 yards for a score after Sanders' long reception as Dallas (2-1) became the only team in the division with a winning record.
The Cowboys, who fell to 6-10 and fourth place last season after five straight division titles, won despite being without two of their quartet of stars -- Aikman, who broke hs collarbone last week, and Smith, who left in the second quarter with a pulled groin muscle and did not return.
| Deion Sanders stayed out of New York's reach all night. (AP) |
"It's exhausting but I love it," Sanders said of his multiple roles. "It keeps me focused on the game."
For the Giants (1-2), the loss broke a nine-game streak without a loss in the division they won last season with a 10-5-1 record.
They had 11 penalties for 92 yards after getting 15 for 90 yards in a loss at Oakland last week and had no sacks after entering the game tied for the NFL lead with 13.
How bad was it?
At one point, the Giants had two straight illegal procedure calls against them and had five overall, three by left tackle Roman Oben. That's not supposed to happen at home before a record crowd of 78,039.
"I'm confused right now where this team is mentally," coach Jim Fassel said.
"No matter what we tried, we just made mistake after mistake after mistake. More than once they made a play and our guys didn't. That's what the NFL is all about."
Neither team crossed midfield in the first quarter.
But after the Giants first series of the second quarter, Sanders struck. He took Brad Maynard's low punt, zigged left, then zigged right and zagged back into the middle of the field for the 15th return touchdown of his career, the fourth on a punt.
"I don't catch the punt and go 10 yards," Sanders said. "I try to score every time."
The Giants tied it 7-7 with 3:54 left in the half on a 36-yard TD pass from Danny Kanell to Amani Toomer.
But on the next series, Garrett found Davis over the middle on a third-and-10 from his own 20.
Then, after Mathis intercepted a pass by Kanell, a pass interference penalty on Phillippi Sparks set up Richie Cunningham's 40-yard field goal that made it 17-7 at halftime.
Garrett, who finished 12-of-28 for 222 yards, connected with Sanders on a third-and-8 from their 20 on their second offensive series in the second half that carried the ball to the New York 25. That set up Williams' touchdown dash up the middle.
Sanders' 71-yard interception return came with 2:25 left in the game. Giants receiver Ike Hilliard slipped, Sanders grabbed the ball and ran untouched to the end zone, dancing over the last 10 yards.
That left Smith to sum up Sanders' night.
"He had a super game, a superb game," he said of Sanders. "Anything less would be uncivilized."
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