ANAHEIM, CALIF., DEC. 22 -- The Los Angeles Rams will make the NFL playoffs if they turn on their televisions in time.

The Dallas Cowboys, whose four-game losing streak had long since assured similar playoff plans, transformed the Rams into certified couch potatoes Monday night by beating them, 29-21, in a game memorable to both teams.

"We had a terrific effort," Cowboys Coach Tom Landry said. "We needed a terrific effort, as well as the Rams have been playing."

He, too, needed a terrific effort to assuage Bum Bright's criticism. Bright, who owns the Cowboys, was vociferously unhappy with his team's losing streak, which Monday's victory ended. The Cowboys will close next Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It's really good to win," Landry said, "to come in and play well. We needed a win. This will help us going into next year."

Next year is what the Rams have to look forward to, too, after falling to 6-8, the exact level of the Cowboys.

The Rams had been amazingly successful recently. After a 1-7 start, they won five straight games to reach the brink of a playoff spot. But now, the last NFC wild-card berth will go to the Minnesota Vikings or Cardinals.

Coach John Robinson, who had taken the Rams to the playoffs in each of his four previous seasons, said the Cowboys simply outplayed his team.

"They came out and put together one of their finest games," he said. "Their offensive effort was almost perfect."

Roger Ruzek of the Cowboys kicked a team-record five field goals, and his teammates played well in every aspect.

Herschel Walker led the offense and Michael Downs and Too Tall Jones did everything they were supposed to on defense. Walker gained 108 yards on 23 carries and caught six passes for 54 yards.

"He was obviously the dominant player on the field," Robinson said.

The Cowboys held Charles White, the NFL rushing leader, to 66 yards on 26 carries.

"Our goal was to keep White inside and not let him get outside," Landry said. "We had the chances to keep him inside, and we did."

The Cowboys' touchdowns came on Walker's one-yard run and Steve Pelluer's 27-yard pass to Doug Cosbie.

The Rams, who trailed by 26-7 midway through the third quarter, made it interesting with Jim Everett's one-yard touchdown run later in that period and a 15-yard touchdown on Steve Dils' pass to Kevin House in the fourth quarter.

The Rams needed Dils because Everett chipped an ankle. Doctors said he won't be able to play next weekend when the Rams close against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams' starting fullback, Mike Guman, hurt a foot and is done for the season, too.