The Dallas Cowboys truly are America's team. Eleven members of the Super Bowl champions, an NFC record for one team, were voted to play in the Pro Bowl Feb.
6 in Honolulu.
That's the most for the NFC and one fewer than the record 12 from the 1973 Miami Dolphins _ the year after the Dolphins went 17-0, the only perfect record in NFL history. The 1973 team also won a Super Bowl.
"I think having 11 guys selected shows you the kind of respect we have around the league," said wide receiver Michael Irvin, one of the Cowboys selected as a starter in the first Pro Bowl balloting in which fans participated.
The Buffalo Bills, with seven, had the most players named to the AFC team. Miami had five players named _ tackle Richmond Webb, guard Keith Sims, tight end Keith Jackson, fullback Keith Byars and wide receiver Irving Fryar.
Seven San Francisco 49ers also placed on the team, three in tiebreakers decided by fan voting.
There were several changes in the format for this year's team. Defenses were switched from 3-4 to 4-3, meaning an extra defensive lineman was selected at the expense of an inside linebacker, and a fullback was selected to go with three running backs.
Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman was the top vote-getter among the fans, who made NFC players their top five choices. He got 216,782 votes to 205,106 for 49ers quarterback Steve Young, 190,073 for Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, 184,104 for 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice and 174,254 for Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders.
Loss puts Dolphins in must-win situation
DAVIE _ It's simple for the Miami Dolphins: win and they go to the playoffs.
The Dolphins fell from an NFL-best 9-2 to 9-6 after a 45-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.
Now, if Miami wants to make the playoffs it must win at New England, or squeeze in with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh (both 8-7) losing. The Dolphins also get in if the Jets and the Los Angeles Raiders lose while Pittsburgh wins.
The last scenario allows Miami to get in based on point differential in AFC games. The Dolphins are -5 and the Raiders are -21 heading into Sunday's home game against Denver.
"The problem right now is we're not playing good football," Miami coach Don Shula said. "We're struggling defensively with all the injuries and then we're giving the ball away offensively. And that puts us in a position where we can't compete."
Miami already knows it will be without cornerback Troy Vincent, who injured a knee and is out for the season. Safety Louis Oliver (foot), linebacker John Offerdahl (hamstring) and defensive tackle Larry Webster (groin) sat out Monday night, and their status for New England has yet to be determined.
Around the league
Super Bowl: The NFL and Atlanta police plan to make the city beautiful but virtually unapproachable for the Super Bowl. Downtown Atlanta almost will be impossible to reach by car on Super Bowl Sunday, Jan.
30. Thirty blocks around the Georgia Dome will be closed to motorists without special passes.
Oilers: Receiver Webster Slaughter underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee and is expected to make a full recovery.
49ers: Running back Ricky Watters, out three weeks with strained right knee ligaments, was cleared to resume practice and should play at least a half in the team's regular-season finale Monday night against Philadelphia. Coach George Seifert said Watters would wear a protective knee brace. Watters will start, but his playing time will be limited.
Raiders: Defensive end Anthony Smith, who would have become a free agent after the season, signed a four-year, $7.6-million contract.