Booed but determined

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING – It took one quarter for Troy Aikman to reacquaint himself with Cowboys fans Sunday. He was back at quarterback after recovering from a concussion suffered in the first game, but got no sympathy from the crowd of 64,127 at Texas Stadium.

Aikman made it through unscathed. He got hit, but not hurt. The worst blow he took came from all the boos targeted at him during a 41-24 loss to previously winless San Francisco.

"If you stay in this game long enough, everyone goes though periods like today," he said. "Before the game, I contemplated whether this would happen if we got off to a slow start, and I wasn't disappointed."

Although many Cowboys fans wanted to see Randall Cunningham, who played well in place of Aikman the last two games, the Cowboys simply wanted to see Aikman back on the field, getting up after taking hits.

Aikman completed 15 of 26 passes for 197 yards. He threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jackie Harris. But he also threw an interception that led to the 49ers touchdown that made it 17-3 with 2:49 left in the second quarter.

"I felt a lot more comfortable in the second half, but that is really irrelevant," Aikman said. "I felt like I rushed a few throws. I missed some that I usually wouldn't."

The Cowboys are 2-5 throughout Aikman's career in his first game back from injury.

"We all wanted to see him go out there and do some things, work on taking those hits, and not having those ramifications we all are concerned about," owner Jerry Jones said. "I'm happy about that."

After suffering his eighth NFL concussion – by his count – against Philadelphia on Sept. 3, Aikman sat on the bench while Cunningham excited fans with his scrambling and playmaking in a loss to Arizona and a victory over Washington. But the Cowboys stuck with Aikman.

The fans, however, did not.

"I heard the crowd booing him, and then when he threw a 30-yard strike they cheered," Cowboys linebacker Darren Hambrick said. "It just wasn't right."

Jones said that Aikman will be the starter for the rest of the season unless he is injured. The owner said it will never be a game-by-game situation between Aikman and Cunningham.

"I don't care how sharp he was," Jones said. "If he doesn't get better support and better play in all phases, then he's not going to be on a team that wins ballgames. I don't know what kind of quarterback could have overcome all that."

The Cowboys were overpowered on both lines. While 49ers running back Charlie Garner rushed for 201 yards, Dallas struggled to run the ball, gaining only 76 yards on the ground.

"They whipped us up and down the field," coach Dave Campo said. "We have to go back to square one."