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Emmitt sustains groin injury

Emmitt Smith's season of disappointment just became a lot worse.

The Dallas Cowboys tailback, with only one touchdown, was knocked out of Sunday's 17-10 loss to the 49ers when he strained his left groin.

Smith injured the groin in the first quarter, and tried to return. But he left for good after gaining 5 yards on a run early in the second quarter.

"I tried to go back in. I ran a sweep play and I had some running room in there, but my leg wouldn't do what I wanted it to do," said Smith, who added that it was too early to tell whether he'll play this week against Arizona.

Smith got retaped in the second quarter and sat on the bench _ wearing a baseball cap, not his helmet _ for the final few series of the first half.

He changed into street clothes during halftime, watching the rest of the game stoicly from the sideline. After the game, he walked slowly to a prayer meeting at midfield, then limped to the locker room.

"I went back out there and tried to suit it up, and from that point on " he said, gesturing downward with his hand.

Smith, who had surgery on his right ankle in January, also was unable to finish Dallas' game against Arizona on Sept. 7. He left that game in the fourth quarter with bruised ribs on his right side.

But a groin injury could be much more significant to a running back.

"I need my legs to produce," he said. "That's why I'm in the league, because of my legs."

Smith, who entered the game fifth in the NFC with 688 yards rushing, gained 31 yards on seven carries before the injury.

In seven previous seasons, including three Super Bowl-winning campaigns, Smith had 108 touchdowns rushing _ an average of just under one.

But his touchdown slump this season is the most visible sign of the Cowboys' overall offensive problems. Dallas has been beset by offensive line problems, and fullback Daryl Johnston is out after neck surgery.

BEARS: WR Curtis Conway was ejected after arguing and making contact with an official in the end zone. Conway went for a pass in the end zone but was hit by Washington's Cris Dishman. Conway screamed for an interference call _ replays showed there was contact _ then approached the official before taking his helmet off and throwing it.

FALCONS: Players wore patches on their uniforms and decals on their helmets with the initials "RMS" in honor of Rankin M. Smith, the team owner who died last week from heart failure. The Falcons presented a game ball to Kyle Maynard, 11, who plays on a youth league team in suburban Atlanta even though he has no arms or legs.

JETS: Inside LB Dwayne Gordon, replacing Pepper Johnson (out for season with quadriceps injury), led the team with 12 tackles.

PANTHERS: John Kasay kicked a franchise-record 54-yard field goal, with about 10 yards to spare.

PATRIOTS: Drew Bledsoe surpassed Babe Parilli for second place on New England's career passing yardage list. Bledsoe (17,002) trails Steve Grogan, who threw for 26,886 yards from 1975-90.

RAIDERS: Napoleon Kaufman, who was averaging an NFL-best 5.7 yards, gained 16 yards on 10 carries.

REDSKINS: Brian Mitchell moved into second place on the NFL career list when he returned the opening kickoff 19 yards. He needed 12 yards to pass Ron Smith, who had 6,922. Mel Gray is the NFL leader with 10,243 kickoff return yards.

VIKINGS: Minnesota hopes to have backup RB Leroy Hoard (two broken ribs) for its next game, against Chicago. Starter Robert Smith (ankle) probably will miss at least one more week.