1995 Review: The Cowboys Start with a 6-1 Record, and Then Add Deion
It was tough to say that many expected the Cowboys to seriously pursue a fifth Super Bowl title in 1995. The team still had talent, but the loss of Alvin Harper, Mark Stepnoski, Ken Norton (in 1994), and others in the previous two offseasons left the Cowboys will some holes to fill.
The Cowboys changed minds quickly in the first week of the season, dominating the Giants in the opening game. The win was bittersweet because the team lost cornerback Kevin Smith for the season with an injury. Because of Smith’s injury, and because of what Deion Sanders did for the 49ers the year before, Jerry Jones aggressively pursued the free agent cornerback. Dallas signed Sanders on September 9, but he did not take the field until after the Cowboys’ week 8 bye. At that point, the Cowboys were already 6-1.
Week 1: Dallas 35, N.Y. Giants 0
The Cowboys opened before 77,454 at Giants Stadium and a Monday Night Football audience. Emmitt Smith scored on the Cowboys ‘ third offensive play when he broke up the middle for a 60-yard touchdown run. Smith finished with 163 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns. He also became the Cowboys ‘ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 75, breaking Tony Dorsett‘s record of 72. Kevin Smith left with a partially ruptured Achilles’ tendon in the second quarter and would miss the remainder of the season.
Week 2: Dallas 31, Denver 21
The Cowboys overcame a sluggish start to improve to 2-0 in front of 64,578 at Texas Stadium. Brock Marion led the Dallas defense with a career-high 11 tackles, while Charles Haley contributed five tackles and two sacks. Emmitt Smith, who finished with 114 yards on 26 carries, extended his club record of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown to nine.
Week 3: Dallas 23, Minnesota 17 (OT)
The Cowboys needed a little extra time at the Metrodome. The Vikings tied the score with 30 seconds left when Cris Carter catches an eight-yard Warren Moon pass for the touchdown. Dallas took the overtime kickoff and drove 73 yards, capped by Emmitt Smith’s 31-yard touchdown run. Michael Irvin finished with eight catches for 107 yards his 27th career 100-yard receiving day, breaking Tony Hill’s club record.
Week 4: Dallas 34, Arizona 20
The Cowboys’ 4-0 start was their best since 1983. Dallas started off strong against the Cardinals, scoring on the game-opening drive. Dallas maintained the lead when Larry Brown intercepted a Dave Krieg pass in the end zone. On the following drive, Sherman Williams broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run, his first pro touchdown. Brock Marion finished the Cardinals’ next possession when he intercepted Krieg at the Dallas 34.
Week 5: Washington 27, Dallas 23
The Cowboys suffered their first defeat of the season at RFK Stadium. The Redskins lead, 20-10, before halftime when Gus Frerotte found Terry Allen for a five-yard touchdown pass. Following an Emmitt Smith fumble to start the third quarter, Allen increased the Redskins’ lead to 27-10 with a one-yard touchdown run. In the final period, Wade Wilson, in for an injured Troy Aikman, hit Michael Irvin with a 28-yard touchdown. Wilson was intercepted at the Redskins’ 21 with four seconds left to seal the Washington victory. Aikman left the game following Dallas ‘ first series with a strained calf and did not return.
Week 6: Dallas 34, Green Bay 24
Dallas defeated the Packers for the fifth consecutive time at Texas Stadium. Troy Aikman, playing with a strained calf, was 24-of-31 passing for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Irvin caught eight passes for 150 yards, his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving day, a Cowboys record. For the fifth time in 1995, the defense allowed less than 100 yards rushing.
Week 7: Dallas 23, San Diego 9
The Cowboys defeated the defending AFC champion to move to 6-1 heading into the bye week. Dallas opened with Larry Brown picking off his third pass of the season at the Cowboys ‘ seven. On the next play, the Chargers’ Reuben Davis sacked Troy Aikman in the end zone for a 2-0 lead. Following a Gale Gilbert fumble, Emmitt Smith capped off a 48-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run to give Dallas a 7-2 advantage. Brock Marion preserved the lead as he picked off Gilbert in the end zone. Aikman, who finished 21-of-30 for 222 yards, broke Don Meredith’s club record for consecutive passes without an interception with 160.
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