The Dallas Cowboys administered to the Los Angeles Rams tonight what they call "a country whipping" in these parts.
Coach Tom Landry tried to play down the significance of the 30-6 victory that established the Cowboys as the class of the National Football Conference, with a 6-1 record and just a game to go for the halfway mark of the season.
The Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are tied for the Nfc East lead, one game ahead of the Washington Redskins (5-2).
"We started with an excellent rush on Pat Haden (the Rams quarterback) and kept him under control," Landry said.
The Dallas defenders did a bit more than that. They chased Haden out of the game with 8 minutes 19 seconds remaining. He completed only nine of 26 passes, was intercepted once, and sacked four times.
Vince Ferrangamo replaced him and suffered a worse fate when he was sacked and suffered a broken right hand. It will sideline him four to six weeks, the Rams announced.
Roger Stabach hit on his first nine passes, threw for three touchdowns, and was given a rest for the last 6 minutes 17 seconds, as Danny White finished up.
Tony Dorsett ran 103 yards, the third straight game he has topped 100, and caught a three-yard scoring pass.
Landry said of Staubach, "I have never seen sharper."
Of Dorsett, he said, "Tony had a great day. Anytime you rush for 100 yards against the Rams, that's something."
Coach Ray Malavasi of the Rams, who dropped to a 4-3 record, said "We're hurting; there's no doubt about that."
Malavasi continued, "Tonight, we lost (strong safety) Dave Elmendrof in the first half with a back injury and then (left cornerback) Pat Thomas with a strained achilles tendon. With our injuries we couldn't stay with our defensive game plan, but we'll come back. It's still a long season."
Also injured tonight was wide receiver Bill Waddy, hamstring.
"When they ran the second half kickoff back (70 yards by Ron Springs), the Cowboys got good field position and went in to score and that gave them a lot of momentum," Malavasi added.
Staubach capitalized on the Rams dismay by pasing 23 yards to tight end Jay Saldi for a touchdown on third and five for a 20-6 lead and all the fight went out of the Rams.
The Rams were held without a touchdown, scoring on field goals of 42 and 41 yards by Frank Corral in the second quarter. It was reminiscent of the NFC championship game last season when the Cowboys won, 28-0, and Halden suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand.
The Rams' offensive line was riddled by injuries and it showed in the first quarter after Eddie Hill took a handoff from teammate Drew Hill and ran a kickoff back 55 yards to the Dallas 47-yard line.
Haden was sacked for a six-yard loss by linebacker Thomas Henderson, and on the next play was sacked by defensive end Harvey Martin for a 10-yard loss. Los Angles had to punt.
The next time the Rams got the ball, guard John Williams was penalized for holding and Henderson threw Cullen Bryant for a four-yard loss and the Cowboys took comand for a 13-6 lead by halftime.
Defensive end Jack Youngblood of the Rams said it was "the (17-point) third quarter that broke our backs. Roger got hot (with nine straight completions before missing) and we couldn't stop them on first down. They dictated to us what we could do. It seemed like Roger was firing a rifle out here."
Asked to comment on a Los Angeles offense that was outrushed 201 yards to 59, and outdone in total offense, 403-158, Youngblood said "When the defense is on the sideline, it's our job to be the cheerleaders for our offense. We've got to fire them up with words and let them know they're not out there alone."
Ordinarily, motivation is the coach's assignment. The Rams' quarterbacking problem appears to be serious. Haden also was chased out of game in the Rams' loss to Tampa Bay, after three quarters, because of his ineffectiveness.