Quarterback Controversy Averted

The Dallas Cowboys hosted the San Diego Chargers at Texas Stadium on Sunday and a more gracious host there could not be in the NFL. Dallas gift-wrapped the ball and the game by spotting the Chargers 17 points on a muggy September afternoon.

Starters jitters seemed to be the soup du jour for anyone under center for Dallas this season. In two games the ball has ended up on the carpet more often via the transfer from center to quarterback than a midnight surprise from my Bassett Hound, Loafy. All three quarterbacks for Dallas have dropped the rock on the artificial turf and given a present to the opposition.

The first series for Dallas started off with Emmitt establishing why he was the best running back on the field today. A sixteen-yard scamper on a lead draw required a free safety to make the tackle before Emmitt broke it long.

Yet on the third play of the game, Anthony Wright lost the handle of the football on the snap and San Diego was in business.

The fumble resulted in 7 points after Dallas held the Chargers to a field goal. But a penalty on Peppi Zellner during the attempt created enough yardage for the Chargers to reload and punch it in.

Wright gave the ball to the Lightening Bolts four times during the game and they came away with 13 points as a direct result. The controversy over which quarterback is better suited to play this season went into a tailspin when considering the outcome.

The bend don't break defense played well even though they gave up 475 yards of offense. The game was a struggle for San Diego to put away even though they scored 32 points.

The Dallas defense that gave up massive yards last season on the ground held LaDainian Tomlinson to 90 yards on 27 carries. In the first two games of this season the rushing defense has held it's own. Something that comes as a pleasant surprise.

And Doug Flutie, a seasoned veteran, used all his tricks to record his 353 yards on 23 completions.

"We just let them win the third down battles all day," said Darren Woodson.

Most of the third downs were bought by the feet and head of Flutie, going 4-6 to move the ball and his ball club to the end zone. San Diego also ran 77 offensive plays to Dallas' 52. Ball control help the Chargers keep the Dallas offense on the sidelines.

"We needed somebody at the end of the game to come up with a play," said Greg Ellis in his post game interview. "A sack or batted pass. Just something to give the offense one more shot."

The tide was finally turned by Ryan McNeil as he intercepted a pass from Wright, which led to a field goal and put the contest out of reach.

As an added insult, Clint Stoerner, a fan favorite entered the game and lost a fumble with less than a minute to play.

The one bright spot was Emmitt Smith churning out enough yards to pass Barry Sanders and take over the second spot in career rushing yards. Emmitt now sets his sights on the most coveted personal statistic in all of the NFL. Walter Payton's 16,726 rushing yards. A feat he will accomplish sometime around game 5 of next season, needing now just 1435 yards for the record.

Smith said , "You want to be standing up here talking about a record in a good situation where the team has just come off a big win. I feel good about moving forward. At the same time, I feel rejected because we didn't win the game."

Always the team player, Emmitt tempers his personal success with the disappointment of the loss.

"I'm probably downplaying it more than I should, but I have no reason to be enthusiastic."

With the goal in sight, it must be pretty satisfying for a player that was labeled as too slow and too small to have stuck around this long.

But with the current problems experienced by all the quarterbacks on this team in holding onto the ball, they must surely wish the rules would change making stick-um legal again.

Then perhaps one of the trio can stick around as long as number 22.

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