Danny White, who acknowledged that allegations that he and four other Dallas Cowboys shaved points during games in the early 1980s were a distraction this week, threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns tonight as Dallas defeated the New York Giants, 30-29, in an NFL game at Giants Stadium.
Rafael Septien kicked three fourth-quarter field goals, all from within 31 yards, as the Cowboys (4-1) took a half-game edge in the NFC East. The St. Louis Cardinals (3-1) could regain a tie for first by defeating the Washington Redskins Monday. The Giants are 3-2.
Septien's final field goal, a 31-yarder with 2:19 remaining, proved to be the winner. The margin of difference, however, could be traced to an extra point attempt early in the third quarter by the Giants' Jess Atkinson that bounced off the right upright. Atkinson's 47-yard field goal with 4:57 left had given the Giants a 29-27 lead.
Atkinson, who played at the University of Maryland and Crossland High in Camp Springs, Md., is filling in because New York's regular kicker, Ali Haji-Sheikh, is on injured reserve.
White, Tony Dorsett and Tony Hill had to contend all week with allegations out of Miami that they had shaved points in exchange for cocaine.
The FBI report was originally filed by Daniel Anthony Mitrione Jr., who in March pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
The FBI never followed through on the report of allegations that five unnamed players were involved. A report in the Dallas Times Herald last week named the three current Cowboys, plus former teammates Butch Johnson and Ron Springs.
"It was not really something that concerned me, but it was important enough that I took the time to let it distract me somewhat," said White.
By game time, the distractions were obviously left behind as White appeared particularly sharp in the first half.
He completed his first six passes and first 15 of 17 against the defense that had surrendered only 50 points through four games, best in the NFL.
White, who finished 31 of 46 with four interceptions, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Hill for a 7-0 Dallas lead on its first possession. After Atkinson's 23-yard field goal, he threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Renfro.
Renfro, who also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass that brought the Cowboys within five, 26-21, with 1:51 remaining in the third period, finished with a career-high 10 receptions for 141 yards.
The Giants (3-2) were led by the passing of Phil Simms. He completed 18 of 36 for a career-best 432 yards and three touchdowns, but Simms committed two key fumbles in the fourth quarter that set up two Septien field goals.
Once he fumbled when hit at the New York 15 by Ed (Too Tall) Jones. The winning field goal was a result of his mishandling a snap from center Bart Oates that gave the Cowboys the ball at the New York 19.
Dallas' offense looked the best it has this season. Hill caught eight passes for 100 yards, and Dorsett, coming off a 159-yard performance last week that was his best in four years, rushed for 86 yards.
Both acknowledged the point-shaving allegations concerned them.
"It is frustrating to know something like that can happen," said Hill. "But it was a bunch of bull. When you are innocent, it doesn't really matter and I don't think it affected the team. Our No. 1 focus was to beat the New York Giants. Our teammates knew us and the system too well to know something like that could have happened."
Dorsett, who earlier this summer had much-publicized troubles with the Internal Revenue Service, said he had a good laugh about the allegations.
"Nobody was on edge during the game and nobody is worried," he said. "It is just something to laugh about. If it was something that hit home, then it would be something to worry about. It is just a bogus story. From what I heard, it supposedly happened in the preseason and we don't even play much in preseason games."