The Dallas Cowboys may brush up on the rule book next week since a little confusion cost them a chance at a field goal in the first half. With time running out, Cowboys receiver Kelvin Martin took a short pass and raced toward the sideline to stop the clock. But he fumbled the ball forward out of bounds, which he and the Cowboys apparently assumed accomplished the same thing.
Uh, not exactly. A new rule states that the clock is re-started as soon as the official places the ball down. The final two seconds ticked off before Dallas could even try a 53-yard field goal. The Cowboys trailed 10-0 at the half.
"It was happening so quickly, but I thought we needed a timeout," said Dallas' holder, Jay Novacek. "I was signaling for the timeout, but I guess no one saw me."
Streaks, Part I
Vinny Testaverde entered the game without throwing an interception in his previous 96 attempts. But on his second pass of the day, Issiac Holt ended that streak. Holt later intercepted another Testaverde pass, returning it 64 yards for the touchdown that tied the game at 10.
Streaks, Part II
Bucs placekicker Steve Christie, who had kicked a team-record 11 consecutive field goals, missed his first try Sunday. His 37-yarder midway through the first quarter was wide right.
First sellout in a year
Sunday's game was the Bucs' first sellout since last October against Chicago. With a 4-2 record entering Sunday's game against lowly Dallas, 74,296 tickets were sold. Actual attendance was 68,315.
Testaverde re-injured his left big toe when he was hit by Lester Brinkley with 3:54 to play in the game and the score tied 10-10. Testaverde originally injured the toe against Dallas two weeks ago.
Streaks, Part III
So far this year, all 15 of the 56 two-game sets have been sweeps, including Dallas beating the Bucs twice.
The complete set
Now that the Cowboys have played here, all 28 NFL teams have been in Tampa Stadium. The Los Angeles Raiders, however, didn't meet the Bucs; they played Washington in Super Bowl XVIII.
Odds and ends
Ray Perkins is 2-6 against Dallas, 0-2 as the coach of Tampa Bay. The Bucs entered the game with a plus-9 takeaway-giveaway ratio. But they committed five turnovers and took just one away on Sunday. Dallas receiver Michael Irvin, a native of Fort Lauderdale, obtained 50 tickets, while ex-Florida star Emmitt Smith got 45 tickets. Bucs punter Mark Royals uncorked his second 62-yard effort of the year Sunday. That remains the best in the NFC.
The Bucs will take it to the streets, playing four of their next five games on the road. Sunday, the Bucs play at San Diego, which will be their first trip there.
_ BRIAN LANDMAN