Emmitt Smith wasn't perfect. He lost a fumble.
Everything else he did Sunday night against the Denver Broncos proved he has no shoulder problems, showed again he needs only a limited training camp, and demonstrated why he's an odds-on favorite for a fourth consecutive NFL rushing title.Playing his first game since he was the Super Bowl MVP, Smith picked up where he left off by scoring a touchdown, setting up another and rushing for 110 yards on 21 carries in the Dallas Cowboys' 34-10 preseason victory over the Broncos.
Dallas offensive guard Nate Newton summed it up. "Emmitt is Emmitt. We've come to expect a high level of performance. But it still amazes me what he does."
Smith wasn't amazed. But he was satisfied.
"It was nice to get in 21/2 quarters," Smith said. "I thought the offense looked pretty good, particularly on that first drive when we took almost 10 minutes off the clock. We've been waiting to do that all summer with our first unit back together again."
The last time Smith suited up for a game, he scored two touchdowns and rushed for 139 yards in the Cowboys' 30-13 Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills.
He looked that good against the Broncos.
On the Cowboys' first possession, Smith rushed nine times for 30 yards, caught two passes for nine yards and scored on a 1-yard run. Of the 17 plays on the 85-yard drive, Smith touched the ball on 11.
The second time Dallas had the ball, Smith gained 44 yards rushing and had a brief visit to the sidelines for some smelling salts from trainer Kevin O'Neill after taking a hard hit. Smith had runs of 4, 9, 9, 12 and 10 yards on the drive before Lincoln Coleman took over for a 4-yard touchdown run.
"I got snapped to the turf pretty hard," said Smith, who sat out the first three preseason games to rest the right shoulder he injured in last year's regular-season finale against the New York Giants. "I was kind of hazy there for a minute. It felt kind of weird."
Smith had 16 yards on a third Dallas drive before proving he was capable of human error by fumbling the ball away on the Denver 10.
He played on Dallas' first possession in the second half, then took the rest of the night off.
"I thought that little back we had out there did pretty good except for that fumble," coach Barry Switzer said. "We'll have to talk to him about that. He is something else."
For Switzer, this was his first chance to see the first-team offense intact as Smith and receivers Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper both returned to action for the first time this preseason.
"We performed like the Cowboys of the past. We let everybody know that nothing has changed in Dallas," Switzer said. "We challenged our offensive and defensive units to perform. We were ready for this game."
Saturday's late game
Raiders 29, Rams 20
Jeff Hostetler threw for one TD and ran for another as the Raiders dealt the Rams (0-3) their eighth straight exhibition loss.
Hostetler was 15-for-21 for 169 yards in the first half as the Raiders (3-1) scored on four straight possessions to build a 20-3 lead.