Danny White's 1984 debut as the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback played to rave reviews today in Texas Stadium.
White tormented the Indianapolis Colts directed by his old college coach Frank Kush by completing 21 of 32 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-3 victory that kept the Cowboys even with St. Louis atop the NFC Eastern Division with 6-3 records.
Dallas Coach Tom Landry said White's performance "was no surprise. He threw the ball well and picked the receivers good. He always performs well."
However, Landry added, "I've said all along that I have two starting quarterbacks. I will use 'em when I feel like using them. If I feel like using Gary (Hogeboom) next week I'll use him.
"Danny made a lot of good decisions because of his experience. He did exactly what I thought he would do. Still, Gary did a great job in the first half of the season."
White's performance came as no surprise to Kush, either.
"He's always been a big-play quarterback," said Kush, who coached White at Arizona State. "He was just like he has always been."
White said, "It was a lot of fun and great to have the first one under your belt. I'll take it. I felt very comfortable, good and relaxed."
White, operating against the second-worst pass defense in the NFL, hit Tony Hill with a 38-yard scoring pass and sent a five-yarder to tight end Doug Cosbie.
Eight of White's completions, for 125 yards, went to Hill -- the veteran who on occasion had been a White detractor, saying he served up "medicine balls" that could get a receiver hurt.
White's return also seemed to pep up the Cowboys' running game. Tony Dorsett -- though fumbling twice in the first quarter to keep the Dallas offense down early -- rushed 100 yards for the first time in 11 games, dating to last year. He netted 104 on 24 carries.
Dallas built a 13-0 halftime lead on White's two second-quarter touchdown passes (he was 17 for 21 for 219 yards in the half), then took advantage of mistakes by the Colts (3-6) for three short field goals by Rafael Septien.
Indianapolis' starting quarterback was an ineffective Mike Pagel, who sprained a thumb and gave way to Mark Herrmann in the second half. Herrmann completed a 44-yard pass to fullback Randy McMillan in the fourth quarter to set up Raul Allegre's 52-yard field goal.
Bill Bates recovered a fumble to set up a field goal, Mike Hegman intercepted a pass to position Septien for another and the third came after a 47-yard interference penalty.
An interception by Bates on a busted field goal try by the Colts set in motion the initial scoring drive. Holder Rohn Stark muffed the snap on what would have been a 50-yard attempt by Allegre. The scrambling Stark threw the ball up for grabs and Bates came down with it at the Dallas 36.
The Cowboys proceeded to go 64 yards in five plays, Dorsett escaping for a 13-yard run to the Indianapolis 38, from where White hit Hill in stride behind Tate Randle.
White played on a sprained ankle, so his punting duties were turned over to John Warren. "I couldn't move as good as I should," he said.
He said he would be disappointed if he didn't get to start again.
"I don't know if this is a one-game shot or not and only Coach Landry knows," White said.