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AIKMAN LIKES 2-0 BETTER THAN 0-2

Troy Aikman is frustrated. But nothing like a year ago when the Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 without Emmitt Smith.

"There are only six other teams in the NFL who can say they are 2-0," Aikman said Monday. "We have to play better to do what we want to do. But we're fine. The objective is to win and I think we're headed in the right direction."Houston's tough defense had Aikman yelling at his receivers and Smith throwing his helmet Sunday in a 20-17 victory to get the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys off to a 2-0 start.

"Houston was blitzing and I was trying to get the receivers to run their routes," Aikman said. "It was a frustrating thing. Emmitt doesn't hold it in like I do."

Smith, who gained a hard 90 yards on 22 carries, said the helmet came flying out of his hand just like a golf club.

"I've thrown golf clubs out of frustration," Smith said. "It had been a long time since I had been that frustrated on the field. I'm calmed down. I'm smiling about it."

Said Aikman: "We have to understand we're a lot better off than we were last year. We started 0-2 and we were close to blowing the season. Historically we are a slow starting team and we finish strong."

Coach Barry Switzer passed out three game balls - all to the defense.

Asked why the offense didn't get any, Switzer said: "Those balls cost $75 each and I got criticized for giving out 11 of them last week."

Switzer said dropped passes kept putting the Cowboys in a hole.

"There will be days like that," he said. "The defense played well. The coaches said it was the best pass rush we've had out of our front four since they've been here."

The Cowboys got good news Monday when a feared ligament tear in wide receiver-kick returner Kevin Williams' right knee turned out to be just a severe sprain.

"He probably will miss the Detroit game but we expect him back for the next one and that's great news," Switzer said. "We'll let Clayton Holmes return the kicks. Clayton is very fast and can be very dangerous."