IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Emmitt Smith was all smiles. Fans were
cheering his every move, and flashbulbs were popping. He looked
around happily, savoring his return to Texas Stadium just as he'd
hoped. Everything was going his way.
Then the game began. And nothing went right again.
Smith lost 4 yards on his first carry and finished with minus-1,
the worst outing of his career. He was pounded nearly every time he
got the ball and was knocked out early in the second quarter with a
sprained left shoulder.
Question on the Cardinals: From your view, should Smith have retired in the offseason?
No, I don't think any player should have to retire if there is a place for him to play and he still has the desire. This past offseason, Smith stated he still had the desire and he did what's best for him.
Question on the Cowboys: Is Carter one of the most improved players this year?
Yes, he has improved not only from last year but from the beginning of the season. He seems to be learning every week and helping manage his team to victories. He seems much more comfortable with his accuracy and in the pocket.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
"Every player wants to play four quarters, play his best and do
everything possible to help his team win," Smith said. "I wasn't
able to do that today."
There was no immediate word from the team on whether Smith would
miss any time. He has missed just four games in his 13-plus NFL
"We have to go back and do more tests on it," Smith said.
"But the early diagnosis is a sprained AC joint. I think I'll be
Quincy Carter threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns and the
defense allowed just 151 yards and provided two safeties in a
four-play span in the third quarter as Bill Parcells earned his
first home win as coach of the Cowboys.
Dallas (3-1) already was up by a touchdown when Smith went out,
then pulled away for its first three-game winning streak since
opening 1999 at 3-0.
"This game was nothing personal to Emmitt," said safety Darren Woodson, who spent 11 years playing with Smith. "It was about beating the Cardinals."
Smith, the NFL's career leading rusher, usually performs his
best in big games, and no game this season will be bigger to him
than this one.
Thousands of fans wore blue No. 22 jerseys, and even a few red
ones. There were many welcome back signs, including a huge one that
read "Once A Cowboy, Always A Cowboy" next to the Cardinals'
tunnel. None poked fun at his statement that he felt like a
"diamond surrounded by trash" during his last season in Dallas.
He was applauded from the moment he stepped onto the field, even
sharing a brief hug with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who wished him
Smith took part in the coin toss, then returned to the bench
giddy over winning it. Cameras clicked as he swapped a ballcap for
his helmet, pulled up his red socks, looked around proudly and got
in place to watch the opening kickoff.
His fun ended on the first play. La'Roi Glover blew through
blockers and wrapped up Smith 4 yards behind the line.
With six carries for minus-1 yard and two catches for 2 yards,
Smith had the least productive of his 206 career games, 201 of
which were for Dallas.
He had only 25 yards on 12 carries his previous game and has
just 192 yards through five games with Arizona (1-4).
Smith lost yards on four of his eight touches and had no gain
twice. His best effort was 6 yards on a third-and-8 swing pass.
The Cowboys usually didn't just tackle him. They tried
humiliating him, too.
Dat Nguyen swiped his arms to gesture an emphatic, "No!" after
a 1-yard loss. Former dominoes mate Willie Blade stood over Smith in a Muhammad Ali-type taunt after Smith fell and lost 4 yards on a screen.
On his final play, Smith went between the guard and tackle on
the left side. Williams arrived in the hole when Smith did.
"I gave him a little love tap," Williams said, smiling.
"Seriously, I hope he's all right."
The Cowboys insisted they weren't trying to prove a point or get
back at Smith for the trash quote.
"We didn't want to get embarrassed by him," Nguyen said. "He
knows our defense inside and out."
Smith's exit ended the most ballyhooed return of an ex-Cowboy
since Jimmy Johnson came in as coach of the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving 1999. Still, fans had plenty to cheer.
Carter, who lost his job after an awful performance against
Arizona last season, opened Dallas' second drive with a 51-yard
touchdown pass to Terry Glenn on a perfectly executed flea flicker.
Carter followed with an 18-yard TD pass to Richie Anderson, and
Billy Cundiff sandwiched two field goals around halftime, then
the Cowboys sacked Jeff Blake in the end zone on consecutive
possessions. Both were set up by pinpoint punts, with Arizona's
rookie sensation Anquan Boldin making the mistake of calling for a
fair catch at the 4 before the first.
Blake was 14-of-28 for 121 yards, two interceptions and a
24-yard touchdown to Brian Gilmore that made it 7-7.
Smith said the trip to Dallas wasn't a total loss. He got to see
one of his daughters play soccer Saturday.
"The experience in itself was everything," Smith said. "Just
coming back here and seeing Texas Stadium and having a chance to
play here in front of the Cowboys fans, it was wonderful.
"It will go down as one of the unique experiences I've ever
Boldin, who came in with 30 catches for 464 yards, had just 33 yards on three receptions. ... Glenn had four catches for 104 yards. In four games, he has been shut out twice and had two 100-yard outings. ... This was Dallas' 13th straight home win over Arizona -- in the regular season. The Cardinals won here in the playoffs in January 1999.
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