Cowboys Use Herschel Walker TD To Rally Past Jaguars 26-22
It was an opportunity for a pair of ex-Cowboy players to gain some revenge on their former employer. It was an early afternoon game under the half-roof at Texas Stadium that normally reserved its crowning moments for any one of the famed Cowboy Triplets.
But on the afternoon of October 19, 1997, the old man – 35-year old Herschel Walker – stole the show in front of the home crowd. His improbable fourth-quarter catch-and-run provided the emphatic difference as the aging Cowboys beat the youthful Jacksonville Jaguars 26-22.
Wide receiver Jimmy Smith, playing in his first game against the team that released him only three years before, gave Jacksonville an early 7-3 lead when he beat cornerback Kevin Smith for a first-quarter touchdown.
But a Troy Aikman-to-Michael Irvin hookup of 27 yards put the Cowboys in position to re-take the lead. The worst red-zone offense in the league commenced to do just that, as Emmitt Smith dove over the pile from less than a yard out for his first rushing TD of the season. The score tied him with John Riggins for fifth-place on the NFL’s all-time rushing touchdowns list.
By the middle of the third quarter, Dallas had upped its lead to 19-7, thanks to a 21-yard field goal from Richie Cunningham and a 2-yard scoring pass from Aikman to Stepfret Williams.
That’s when Jacksonville started their rally. Two touchdown passes from Mark Brunell in a span of less than 10 minutes had the crowd of 64,464 groaning in anticipation of Dallas’ third consecutive defeat. Willie Jackson, a fleet tailback who was drafted by Dallas in 1994, then caught a pass from Brunell on a two-point play following the second touchdown giving Jacksonville a three-point cushion, 22-19.
There to turn the tide one final time was Walker, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Georgia who was in the starting lineup only because of an injury to fullback Daryl Johnston. On second-and-22, Walker snuck out of the backfield and caught a quick pass from Aikman. Walker then turned upfield and broke four tackles to complete the 64-yard scoring play.
“I’ve run that play a lot in training camp, but haven’t got too many chances to run it in a game,” Walker said. “I just kept bouncing off tacklers…People keep saying I’m an old man. Today I felt like I was 22 and just got drafted.”
“We never dreamed the play would go for 22 yards, let alone a touchdown,” Aikman said. “We were just trying to pick up some yardage to set up third down.”
Jacksonville’s late rally was snuffed out when rookie safety Omar Stoutmire, filling in for the injured Darren Woodson, intercepted Brunell’s pass with 1:24 remaining.