IRVING, TEX., DEC. 2 -- Troy Aikman directed Dallas on two long second-half touchdown marches to outduel former teammate Steve Walsh and give the Cowboys a 17-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints today.

Dallas kept its NFC wild-card hopes alive by improving to 6-7, while New Orleans dropped to 5-7. The Saints' loss clinched the NFC West for the 49ers, who play Monday night against the Giants.

New Orleans hasn't beaten Dallas in eight tries at Texas Stadium.

Aikman, who beat out Walsh for the starting job with the Cowboys in training camp, hit 11 straight passes in the second half, including a five-yard scoring toss to Darryl Johnston for the game-winner early in the fourth quarter.

Aikman had completed only four of 10 passes for 29 yards in the first half.

Dallas cut a 10-0 halftime deficit to three points when Aikman hit Kelvin Martin on a 45-yard pass to set up Emmitt Smith's one-yard scoring run on the first possession of the second half.

Dallas also got a 47-yard field goal from rookie Ken Willis with 53 seconds to go.

The victory avenged a 28-0 loss to New Orleans last year in Jimmy Johnson's NFL coaching debut. It marked the first back-to-back home victories for Dallas since 1985.