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"It was right there. That same exact corner'

Jimmy Johnson had seen this before. The final minute. His team needing a touchdown to win. His quarterback, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, looking for his best wide receiver in the left corner of the south end zone at Tampa Stadium.

"I had visions of Bernie Kosar throwing to Eddie Brown," said Johnson, recalling a dramatic win in 1984 against the University of Florida while he was the coach at Miami. "It was right there. That same exact corner."

Six years later, only the names have changed.

Troy Aikman, the top Heisman candidate during his final season at UCLA, hooked up with Michael Irvin for a 28-yard touchdown with less than a minute to play as Dallas stunned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-13.

Tampa Bay, which lost at Dallas two weeks ago, kicked a field goal for a 13-10 lead with 1:56 to play.

Game is over, right? After all, the Cowboys had generated all of 145 yards and three points during the first 58 minutes, with Aikman 10-of-23 for 99 yards.

But the offensively inept Cowboys responded with a drive that was reminiscent of Roger Staubach and Dallas' glory days in the 1970s.

First down, Dallas 20, and 1:56 to play: Aikman overthrows fullback Tommie Agee in the flat.

Second down, 1:50 left: Aikman passes to Irvin for 14 yards to the Cowboy 34. The catch was the first in more than a year for the former Miami star and No.

1 draft pick, who underwent reconstructive surgery after injuring his right knee on Oct. 15 of last year. 1:26 left.

First down, Dallas 34: Wayne Haddix breaks up Aikman's pass for tight end Jay Novacek.

Second-and-10, 1:21: Aikman badly overthrows Alexander Wright, who was 10 yards behind the Bucs secondary.

"I missed that pass to Alex and that would have won it for us," Aikman said, looking at his right hand.

Third-and-10, 1:14: Aikman hits Novacek over the middle for 18 yards and another first down. Forty-four seconds left.

First-and-10, Tampa Bay 48: Aikman drops back, waits and watches, then takes off. He runs 20 yards for another first down, plowing into Haddix to gain a few more precious feet instead of safely sliding to the grass. Thirty-one seconds left.

First down at the 28: Aikman looks right and then fires to Irvin, who had beaten Rodney Rice, for the game-winning touchdown. Aikman's most recent touchdown pass was 11 quarters previous, against the Bucs.

"I came into the huddle and told him (Aikman) that they were trying to jam me and I thought I could get around him (Rice)," Irvin said. "He looked at me and said, "It's comin' at ya.'

"This was my first chance to get in the thick of things. Yeah, I dropped a couple, but I came back and made the big one. That's why they call me the "Playmaker.'


"I blame myself," said Bucs safety Mark Robinson. "I was supposed to be giving him help."

Rice, however, also took the blame for not being the playmaker the Bucs needed at the time.

"The defense we were playing is designed where I can go for the ball because I have help over the top," he said. "We came in here with a lot of confidence, but it's really one of those things that happens."

Jimmy Johnson has seen it happen here before.