Tony Dorsett rushed for 116 yards and scored twice and Danny White threw two touchdown passes today as the Dallas Cowboys manhandled the Cleveland Browns, 31-14, at Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys intercepted Brian Sipe three times and his backup, Paul McDonald, once. They were sacked four times for 38 yards in losses. Dallas rushed 299 yards to Cleveland's 78.
There were 17,256 no shows, so only 46,267 saw Dallas win its third straight after an opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the third smallest crowd at the stadium since the Cowboys moved there in 1971.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Cowboys scored on five straight possessions in the second and third periods and led, 31-0. The first two scores were set up by interceptions by Michael Downs and Bob Breunig.
White's backup, Gary Hogeboom, threw an interception on the first pass of his NFL career and later fumbled away the ball to set up two fourth-quarter touchdowns for Cleveland. Dallas hadn't given up a point in nine straight periods.
Coach Tom Landry was so pleased with the Cowboys' play to that point that the turnovers didn't faze him.
"This just happened to be our day," he said. "We were sharp and executed extremely well."
The Cowboys will have 10 days off before they face the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium.
"We should have an advantage against Washington because we have a couple of extra days to prepare and they're going to have a tough game against Philadelphia Sunday," Landry said. "The Eagles are hungry, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Redskins are still undefeated when we play them."
Dallas scored first today when Downs stepped in front of Ozzie Newsome and intercepted one of Sipe's passes, returning 22 yards to the Cleveland 20.
After Dorsett ran three straight times, to the four, White faked a handoff and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Billy Joe DuPree.
On the Browns' next possession, Sipe, with tacklers surrounding him, threw the ball toward Mike Pruitt. But it fell well behind the running back and into Breunig's arms at Cleveland's 49.
It took Dallas only three plays to score. From a two-tight-end, two-wide-out formation, White faked a screen to the right, looked left and then went back to the right to Drew Pearson, who was eight yards behind cornerback Lawrence Johnson.
Pearson had to slow down to catch the ball and Johnson ran him down inside the one-yard line.
Dorsett scored on the next play and Rafael Septien's conversion put the Cowboys on top, 14-0.
Septien kicked a 40-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the half to make it 17-0 at intermission.
Dallas scored on its first two possessions of the third period on drives of 85 and 71 yards. White and Ron Springs teamed on a two-yard pass for one score and Dorsett ran five yards for the other.
Cleveland finally scored after Tom Cousineau intercepted Hogeboom at the Cowboys' 18. Two plays later, McDonald threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Dino Hall.
The Browns made a successful onside kick, but McDonald threw an interception to Everson Walls. Cleveland got the ball back when Hogeboom fumbled and that led to Pruitt's two-yard touchdown run six plays later, with 5:56 remaining.
"I've had better Thanksgivings than this," Coach Sam Rutigliano of the Browns said.