Johnson had left the Cowboys after he had led them to their second straight Super Bowl title due to a rift with the owner, Jerry Jones. While the Dolphins were losing out on first place in the AFC East, the Detroit Lions surged into sole possession of the NFC Central lead with a 21-17 win over the Chicago Bears.
The Cowboys, who intercepted the Dolphins quarter-back Dan Marino five times, opened the scoring with a touchdown on a 46-yard interception return by the linebacker Dexter Coakley in the third quarter after a defensive battle had left the frst half pointless.
Dallas added another touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 65-yard touchdown pass from the quarterback Troy Aikman to Raghib "Rocket" Ismail.
Marino, who had missed five games due to a cervical nerve root injury which weakened his throwing shoulder, was shaky throughout and matched a career high on his five interceptions. Coakley and the Dallas cornerback, Deion Sanders, had two interceptions apiece as the Cowboys (6-5) moved into second behind Washington in the NFC East.
The Detroit Lions pounced early as their back-up quarterback Gus Frerotte steered them to a victory over Chicago that lifted them above the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Central Division.
Frerotte gave another fine performance in place of the injured Charlie Batch as he helped take the Lions to a 21-point lead with a pair of touchdown passes and then engineered a drive which consumed the final six minutes of the game as the Bears pressed.