IRVING, Texas -- When the Atlanta Falcons put safety George Teague on the waiver wire last August, 28 teams bypassed him.
Short of players in the secondary, the Cowboys grabbed him.
The move has paid big dividends for Dallas.
"I can't believe he fell through the waiver wire -- all the way to 30th, the bottom where we could pick him up. He's the best jTC acquisition we've had this year," coach Barry Switzer said.
Teague started the year as a nickel back and was promoted to a starting position six weeks ago when Brock Marion injured his shoulder.
In the 40-15 victory over the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, he ran back an interception for a touchdown and forced two fumbles.
Teague, drafted in the first round by the Packers in 1993, started 43 games for Green Bay but was bothered by a thyroid condition in 1994 and a toe injury last year. The Packers brought in Eugene Robinson and traded Teague to Atlanta, where he didn't make the team.
Of his game yesterday, Teague said: "I think it does a lot for me personally. It kind of puts me on the map a little bit. Being traded and cut, it doesn't look really good for a former first-rounder."
Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders said, "Teague was unbelievable. He made so many plays, I was jealous."
Inauspicious playoff debut
Brad Johnson, who recently signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract, had a nightmarish day in his first playoff game. He was intercepted twice and sacked twice, but Vikings coach Dennis Green stuck with him and didn't switch to veteran Warren Moon, who lost his job when he was injured early in the year but is " healthy now.
Green said: "I think it was a lot more than the quarterback. Brad did some good things. He made some plays. He threw some balls he probably shouldn't have thrown. He threw some back late over the middle, which you shouldn't do. But their defense was part of it."
This was probably the last game in a Minnesota uniform for Moon. The Vikings have budgeted only $500,000 for their backup quarterback next year, so it is likely Moon will try to find a better opportunity.
Smith hits the books
Emmitt Smith keeps setting playoff records.
He now has seven 100-yard rushing games (breaking record of six held by John Riggins and Thurman Thomas) and has scored in eight straight games (one more than Riggins). He has 18 rushing touchdowns (two more than Franco Harris). He also tied Thomas' marks of 20 touchdowns and 120 points.
Pub Date: 12/29/96