Reserve fullback and player representative Robert Newhouse, in his only appearance on offense, scored on a three-yard run late in the third quarter today, giving the Dallas Cowboys a 14-9 victory when Tampa Bay quarterback Doug Williams was stopped by inches and a fumble late in the game.
But the string of 44 consecutive sellouts at Texas Stadium was broken: there were 13,439 empty seats on an almost balmy afternoon.
"Well," said Cowboys Coach Tom Landry, "I guess some of them had other plans today. I had to break my plans to be here."
Williams, the chief victim of Tampa Bay's 36-0 loss to Dallas during last season's playoffs, completed 23 of 43 passes for 258 yards without an interception. But he could not get a touchdown, the Buccaneers (0-3) having to settle for field goals of 26, 27 and 26 yards by Bill Capece. The first two gave Tampa Bay a 6-0 lead.
And to win the game, the Cowboys (2-1) had to survive a last two minutes during which Williams was throwing for the end zone on almost every play. He passed to Jimmie Giles on fourth and 10 from the Cowboys' 31, only to have Giles fumble at the 10 and the ball bounce toward the goal line.
Dallas safety Michael Downs recovered it at the one with five seconds to go.
Wide receiver Kevin House had caught a long pass in the corner of the end zone, but officials ruled he had one foot out of bounds.
"I think Tom (Landry) does a great job with his team, but they are not that more talented than us," Tampa Bay Coach John McKay said.
Dallas' offense came to life in the second quarter with an 80-yard drive ending in Danny White's nine-yard scoring pass to Drew Pearson. After the Buccaneers went back in front, 9-7, the Cowboys got the winning touchdown with 3:57 to go in the third quarter.
They went 77 yards for that one, with Newhouse coming onto the field with his team facing second and goal at the three-yard line. Newhouse, who had faced trying to keep a reluctant group of players together during the two-month strike, went in behind the block of tight end Doug Cosbie.
Wide receiver Butch Johnson said, "We wanted him (Newhouse) to score to show the people who were coming down on Robert that we supported him and supported the union."
The Buccaneers threatened to score for much of the game, but mistakes deep in Dallas territory plagued them. They drove, for instance, to the Dallas six midway through the last period only to have Theo Bell drop a pass in the end zone. Two plays later, Capece missed on a field goal try of 24 yards.