Emmitt Smith became the Cowboys' career leading rusher with a 163-yard effort and Aikman shook off a painful finger injury to make two critical throws as the Cowboys pulled ahead of the defending division champion Giants by three games in the hard-earned 16-6 victory.
Dallas (6-3) swept the Giants in a season series for the first time since 1995 and is 5-0 in division games. The Giants, who lost 31-7 to Dallas in the third game of the season, dropped to 3-6.
Aikman hurt the index finger on his passing hand when it hit a Giants helmet in the second period. X-rays showed no break in the finger, although it was sprained and cut.
"I was struggling with it," said Aikman, who missed the last two minutes of the first half. "I couldn't get the bleeding to stop. And then I couldn't get enough pressure on the ball. I was very frustrated. I thought it was broken, and the helmet took off a big chunk of skin."
Dallas didn't put the game away until Aikman hit Eric Bjornson from 2 yards out for a touchdown with 8:44 to play. Ernie Mills' acrobatic catch on a 27-yard pass put Dallas in position for the score on the 84-yard driv. Aikman also completed a 21-yard pass to Billy Davis on the drive.
Mills jumped between safety Tito Wooten and cornerback Carlton Gray to make the catch at the New York 1. After Smith lost a yard, Aikman found Bjornson all alone in the end zone for the tight end's first touchdown reception of the season and the game's only touchdown.
"I didn't get to see it," Aikman said. "I got knocked down after I let it go. Ernie knows how to play the game and we're lucky to have him."
Smith gained 163 yards on 29 carries. He now has 12,105 career yards.
| He's No. 1: Emmitt Smith celebrates his record-breaking day. (AP) |
"I was extra pumped, a little emotionally charged," Smith said. "I wanted to bust a really big one early. The offensive line was just great. This was a very important win for us."
Smith flew in his father, Emmitt Smith Sr., from Florida to see the record broken.
"I wanted to do it here at Texas Stadium. This is where the dream began," Smith said.
Giants coach Jim Fassel said Smith "ran very hard, probably the best runner our defense has faced this year. Their team had an incentive to get him 95 yards for the record."
"It was almost like Emmitt decided today he was going to do it (set the record) no matter what," Gailey said. "He proved he is still a great football player."
Smith broke Dorsett's Cowboys rushing record of 12,036 yards on a 32-yard run in the first half. Dallas ran another play before somebody thought to stop the game and give Smith the ball.
Smith became the eighth NFL running back to exceed 12,000 yards.
Aikman completed 16 of 23 passes for 161 yards despite the finger injury. Danny Kanell was 12-of-24 for 139 yards for the Giants.
Gary Brown was the Giants' top offensive threat with 15 carries for 119 yards.
The Giants and Cowboys traded field goals in a first half that ended in a 6-6 tie.
Cunningham also had a 19-yard field goal that made it 9-6 in the second half.
The best chance for a Giants touchown came when they reached the Dallas 1. Brown, hauled down by Deion Sanders after a 32-yard run, tried the Cowboys middle on first down and was denied by linebacker Fred Strickland. Replays showed Brown might have made it, but the officials disagreed.
"We thought play action might be best on first or second down," Fassel said. "If we had scored a touchdown, it would have been a great call."
Kanell said, "It's a good call if they think we're going to run the ball."
Fassel said the Giants are all but dead in the NFC East.
"I don't like the fact that we have seven games to go and this puts us out of it realistically, but not mathematically," Fassel said. "I still want us to play hard the last seven games."
Linebacker Jesse Armstead added, "It's a pride thing now. We have to fight for respect."
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