Boomer Esiason completed 15 of 25 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns today to help the Cincinnati Bengals humiliate the Dallas Cowboys, 50-24, in an NFL game today.
"They had an off day," Esiason said later. "Everything we did seemed to go well for us. We got on the scoreboard right off the bat; the defense scored."
The Bengals trapped Danny White for a safety on the game's third play, then took a 22-0 lead less than nine minutes into the game. The Cowboys (9-5) had never allowed that many points in a first quarter, and they never recovered. Nor had they given up so many points in a game since losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 54-13, in 1970.
They came into the game leading the NFC East by a game over the New York Giants. Although they missed a chance to clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth, they still can win the NFC East by beating the Giants next Sunday. The Bengals (7-7) stayed in contention in the AFC Central.
"It was very similar to the way the Bears came in fired up when we played them (44-0, Chicago)," White said. "That was the difference in the game. It was a psychological thing. They came out to play playoff-caliber football and we didn't."
Bengals Coach Sam Wyche had his players primed for the Cowboys' first visit to Riverfront Stadium, which drew a boisterous sell-out crowd of 56,937.
"We just came into this game extremely motivated and took it to them," Wyche said. "We beat them man-to-man."
Esiason, a former star at the University of Maryland, became the Bengals' big man, thwarting blitzes with audibles and consistently finding open receivers. His first touchdown pass came during the 22-point spree. He threw two more in the second half.
"Boomer did a great job today," Dallas Coach Tom Landry said. "We didn't cover anybody, and he was hitting everybody. So you have to give him a lot of credit.
"We could never stop their offense when Boomer was in the game. They moved every play, every time."
Esiason shook off a knee injury to direct the quick-striking offense that ended the Cowboys' streak of invincibility in just-after-Thanksgiving games. The Cowboys had won their last 15 games coming off the nine-day holiday break.
Esiason threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eddie Brown before a bruised knee sent him to the sideline early in the second quarter.
He came back to pass to Steve Kreider for a 29-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that made for a 29-3 lead. The Bengals then recovered a fumble on the kickoff, one of the Cowboys' four turnovers. Two plays later, James Brooks ran 19 yards around right end for his second touchdown and a 36-3 lead.
Esiason passed to Cris Collinsworth for a 58-yard touchdown as the Bengals methodically churned out their third-highest point total in team history. They led, 50-10, before the Cowboys scored two late touchdowns.
The Cowboys were in trouble from the start in their first-ever visit to Cincinnati. White, outstanding in impressive victories the last two games, was dropped in the end zone by end Ross Browner for a safety on a third-and-37 play.
Esiason completed three of four passes after the free kick to set up Larry Kinnebrew's three-yard touchdown run.
He passed to Brown for the second touchdown, then handed off to Brooks on a quick draw for a 27-yard touchdown to end the first-quarter excitement.
Brooks finished with 109 yards on 13 carries. Collinsworth led receivers with seven catches for 123 yards.
White completed 21 of 32 passes for 227 yards with one interception. He threw for two touchdowns in the second half.
Tony Hill caught three passes for the Cowboys, giving him 73 this season and tying Ron Springs' club record. He has caught a pass in 58 consecutive games, tying Drew Pearson's club record.
Veteran quarterback Ken Anderson, relegated to Cincinnati's third string this season, came in for his team's last two possessions. He hadn't played since the second game this season.