FOXBORO, MASS., NOV. 15 -- Herschel Walker won the starting job on Thursday. He won the game on Sunday.
Walker stamped his individual rushing performance fourth best in Dallas Cowboys history with a 60-yard touchdown run 1:50 into overtime today as the Cowboys overcame a plague of penalties and a late New England lead to defeat the Patriots, 23-17.
Walker had complained about sharing time running the ball with longtime starter Tony Dorsett. Thursday, the Cowboys said Walker, who had been used largely as a pass receiver out of the backfield, would be the man at tailback against New England.
He carried on 28 of Dallas' 30 running plays today. Dorsett ran once.
"I love to run the ball," Walker said. "Georgia gave me a chance in college. The New Jersey Generals gave me a chance in the USFL."
Roger Ruzek, a fellow former General, gave Walker an overtime chance by kicking a 20-yard field goal that tied the game, 17-17, with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Walker, who had 113 yards on his other 27 carries, plus 59 yards on five pass receptions, burst through the left side, shaking off arm tackles by Steve Nelson and Fred Marion, and outran cornerback Raymond Clayborn along the sideline for his 60-yard score.
"It was just supposed to be a running play," Walker said. "It turned out to be a great play."
"It was just a regular running play, just an off-tackle play," Dallas Coach Tom Landry said. "We'd been running it all day. Once he gets into the secondary, he's awesome."
Dallas (5-4) improved its all-time overtime record to 6-2. New England (4-5) dropped out of a five-way tie for the AFC East lead and fell to 0-9 in overtime games. The Patriots are 0-6 overall against the Cowboys, the only NFL team they have never beaten.
They had a chance today when Tom Ramsey's five-yard pass to Stanley Morgan gave them a 17-14 lead with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter. Ramsey had entered early in the third quarter when Steve Grogan hit his head as he was being tackled. The injury was not believed serious.
New England Coach Raymond Berry said one of his players probably fell for a fake on Walker's winning play.
"We have been quite well aware of his ability to do everything there is on a football field, plus his breakaway speed," Berry said.
"I figured I could cut it back to the inside and get one-on-one with the safety, which is what happened," Walker said. "I knew somebody was there. That's why I cut back to the outside."
Landry was disappointed that his team tied a club record of 15 penalties one week after committing 11 in a 27-17 loss to Detroit. The penalties cost the Cowboys 112 yards against the Patriots. But they had no penalties on the tying and winning drives.
The Cowboys took the overtime kickoff to their 30. After Walker's two-yard loss and an incompletion, a pass from Danny White to Timmy Newsome gained 12 yards for a first down. Then Walker took off.
Dallas had advanced 78 yards in 11 plays, in 1:27, for the tying field goal. The key play was a 43-yard, fourth-down completion from White to Mike Renfro that brought the ball to the New England 27.
White's three-yard touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie 10 seconds before intermission had given Dallas a 14-7 halftime lead. New England cut it to 14-10 on Tony Franklin's 41-yard, second-chance field goal with 9:48 left in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Robert Williams had blocked Franklin's 46-yard try but was called for lining up in the neutral zone.
The Patriots' first 10 points followed their two interceptions off White, returned 51 and 27 yards, respectively, by Ed Williams and Roland James.
On the Patriots' next possession, Ramsey, playing his third game at quarterback in his three years with the Patriots, threw his first NFL touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Ramsey completed five of seven passes for 77 yards on the drive.
Dallas got the ball back at its 19 on the kickoff. White completed four of seven passes for 64 yards and Walker ran twice for 17 yards to set up the tying field goal.
And of Walker's final sprint, White said, "Nothing but a blue flame, that's all I saw, running down the field. I knew it was over."
Dallas 7 7 0 3 6 23 New England 0 7 0 10 0 17 First Quarter
D -- Francis 18 interception (Ruzek kick), 13:06 Second Quarter
NE -- Grogan 2 run (Franklin kick), 2:36
D -- Cosbie 3 pass from White (Ruzek kick), 14:50 Fourth Quarter
NE -- FG Franklin 41, 5:12
NE -- Morgan 5 pass from Ramsey (Franklin kick), 13:05
D -- FG Ruzek 20, 14:32 Overtime
D -- Walker 60 run, 1:50
A -- 60,567
Cowboys Patriots First downs 24 15 Rushes-yards 30-181 33-88 Passing yards 257 177 Return yards 40 87 Passing 25-44-2 14-28-1 Sacked-yards lost 4-29 4-32 Punts-average 7-40 6-35 Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-1 Penalties-yards 15-112 5-35 Time of possession 33:
RUSHING -- Dallas: Walker 28-173, Dorsett 1-5, Newsome 1-3. New England: Collins 14-40, Ramsey 3-17, Tatupu
PASSING -- Dallas: White 25-44-2, 286 yards. New England: Grogan 6-12-1, 73, Ramsey 8-16-0, 136.
RECEIVING -- Dallas: Newsome 6-49, Walker 5-59, Renfro 4-79, Barksdale 3-40, Cosbie 3-26, Dorsett 2-19, Edw
MISSED FIELD GOALS -- New England: Franklin, 35.