Danny White, the NFL's leading passer, set up two of Dallas' three touchdowns in the second quarter with long completions today to give the Cowboys their eighth straight playoff berth, with a 21-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
It was the sixth straight victory for Dallas (6-1) and kept the Cowboys tied with Washington atop the NFC standings.
New Orleans (3-4), which wasted scoring opportunities both early and late in the game, lost quarterback Ken Stabler in the third quarter with a bruised wrist after he completed only two of 10 passes for 32 yards. With games remaining against the Redskins and Atlanta, the Saints' once bright playoff hopes have now dimmed dramatically.
"The second half just flattened out after Ken Stabler went out," said Dallas Coach Tom Landry. "New Orleans surprised us with a power I set and it just kind of threw us off track all day.
"We just had a flat feeling out there. New Orleans is a good team and they hit like Tampa Bay," Landry said.
After turning the ball over twice in the opening period, the Cowboys scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second quarter. Tony Dorsett scored two of them on runs of two and one yards and White threw a three-yard scoring pass to tight end Doug Cosbie.
Dorsett's first touchdown was set up by White's 42-yard pass to Drew Pearson, who caught the ball despite double coverage by Dave Waymer and Frank Wattelet.
White, 14 of 22 for 222 yards, threw a 45-yard pass to Cosbie on the next possession, setting up the three-yard touchdown throw to Cosbie. Dallas next drove 59 yards in the final seconds of the first half, helped along by a roughing-the-passer penalty, resulting in Dorsett's one-yard touchown.