A reassuring game for Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys couldn't have been more discouraging for Bubby Brister and the Denver Broncos.

Dallas's first-team offense rebounded from three poor games by scoring on four of its first five drives of what turned into a 22-12 preseason victory tonight. It was the first preseason win for Cowboys Coach Chan Gailey, who had been 0-8 over two summers.

"We had a good outing," Aikman said. "That means more probably than the win itself."

Worse than the loss for the Broncos was how badly they played. In 2 1/2 quarters with its starters, Denver (2-2) failed to convert a third down until Brister's ninth drive. He threw an interception two downs later on what proved to be his final play.

His other possessions ended in six punts, a safety caused by a shotgun snap going off his fingertips and a failed fourth-down try.

The Cowboys, whose 0-3 preseason start had many of the same offensive doldrums as their 2-4 skid to end last season, were as impressive as Denver was bad.

Dallas got 10 points from its starters in each of their two quarters, wrapping field goals by Richie Cunningham around touchdowns by Smith and rookie Wane McGarity. Each scoring drive covered more than 60 yards in just three plays.