Finally watched the movie Invincible last night, despite the possibility that: (a) I would enjoy it; and (b) that in watching it and enjoying it, I would jinx the Cowboys in Christmas Day because it focuses on the Eagles. I’ll have to balance out the luck at some point this week.
Anyway, here is the preview of the movie:
As both a Cowboys fan and as a former resident of St. Louis (see Cardinals vs. Phillies), I am supposed to hate the city of Philadelphia. And since I like the original Rocky movie, I did my best not to like this one too much because that would be two Philly movies that I would like. But alas, it was a pretty good movie.
Not being in the movie review business, I am not going to try. However, I did make some mental notes about the realism of the movie, particularly the scenes at Texas Stadium that take place during the opening game of the 1976 season. In real life, the Cowboys won easily, 27-7 (story of the actual game is below) Just my opinion, but here is what I thought was realistic and what wasn’t:
(1) Cowboys 1976 Helmets. The film showed the Cowboys’ bicentennial helmets that had the red, white, and blue stripes instead of the traditional blue-white-blue stripes. I have no idea whether Dallas wore this helmet in the opening game of the 1976 season, but nice touch anyway.
(2) Stars on the Walls: The movie was filmed at the current Texas Stadium, which has stars along side the sideline walls. I thought perhaps that this was inaccurate because those stars were not there when the stadium first opened. However, I found pictures taken during 1976 that clearly show the presence of the stars. Look at the background in this picture from 1976 (showing Preston Pearson catching a touchdown pass):
(3) The Players. I didn’t really look closely at the faces, but I thought that the movie got the general body types of the more notable players: Staubach, “Too Tall” Jones, Randy White, Harvey Martin, Drew Pearson, etc.
(4) Landry. The movie shows Tom Landry walking toward the sideline before the start of the game. The clothes were probably easy, but the movie actually depicted his gait pretty accurately. Here is a shot of Landry during that season:
(5) The Offensive Line. The movie even showed the offensive line rising up before going into their stances. This was a trademark of the Cowboys’ line during that era.
Less Than Accurate:
Just a couple of inaccuracies, focusing on Texas Stadium itself:
(1) The Turf. Someone on Internet Movie Database pointed out differences in the turf:
The movie was filmed on set at Texas Stadium, but the turf in the movie and the actual turf in Texas Stadium in 1976 are far different. Back then the turf was just typical AstroTurf but now it is a newer artificial grass turf as it appears in the movie.
(2) The Banners. At one point, the camera pans so that you can see the roof at Texas Stadium. There are clearly two banners hanging, which is most likely inaccurate. At that point, the Cowboys had been in three Super Bowls (following the 1970, 1971, and 1975 seasons) but had won only one of them. I am not sure what hung up there during the 1976 season (I think that the current banners were added much later), but I don’t think that the Cowboys have hung banners for conference championships.
(3) End Zone Art. The films shows the current end zone art, which differs from the art that was used during the 1970s. [incorrect information omitted]
CORRECTION: Thanks to Redmustang03, who corrected me on the end zone art (I erroneously thought that the helmets with two bars were there in 1976). Here are his comments:
The dark blue Cowboys logo with the helemet with two bars wasn’t put in until the 1981 season which lasted from 1981 to 1995 after the NFC championship game. Instead from 1972 to 1978, the Cowboys logo background was light blue with two white circles that included the Cowboys stars. In 1979 they did use the two helmets, but they were bigger in size and the background was still the light blue. In 1981, they changed the Cowboys words to Texas Stadium and used that for one year. After one year, they used the 1981 end zone logos until 1995 and the next year they have the aqua blue background with the Cowboys logo and the two helmets with the three bars. Until they switched from astroturf to field turf the Cowboys logo background changed to a dark blue not as dark as the 1981 logo and then put in the same two helmets with three bars.
(4) Luxury Boxes. RedMustang03 also noted that the luxury boxes shown in the film were not there in 1976.
As you see in the movie you see the luxury boxes high up in Texas Stadium. In 1976, those luxury boxes did not exist. In fact, not until 1985 were they put in. Back then, it used to be windows up there in order to increase cirulation to the stadium.
Have any others? Please let me know.
Here is the story of the actual game:
Generally what happened in Texas Stadium Sunday afternoon was that the Dallas Cowboys had a great deal more than anybody expected at this time and the Philadelphia Eagles a lot less.
In recent years the Eagles have played the Cowboys tough but this was like the old days. Dallas jumped out front and was never in jeopardy as it bowled over the Eagles in a manner which was much more decisive than the final score of 27-7 indicated.
“The offense,” said middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, “was extremely impressive. We used a variety of plays, kept them off balance and they made our job much easier.”
“I cannot remember our offense being this far along to open the season,” said wide receiver Drew Pearson.
The Roger Staubachs, Pearsons, etc. were still doing the things they have been noted for doing, but a new star, who began to emerge in preseason continued that trend when it counted – in the league opener. That would be second-year fullback Scott Laidlaw, who rushed for 104 yards and a 5.5 average and caught seven passes for 66 more yards.
Laidlaw ran draw plays, one to the weakside, the other to the strongside, to set up field goals of 37 and 46 yards by Efren Herrera, who looked like a sure shot when he got his opportunity.
On the Cowboys’ first touchdown drive, 72 yards in 11 plays, Laidlaw rushed and caught passes for 42 yards. And on the club’s second touchdown move, he broke for 28 yards to begin a 70-yard push of only five plays.
The draws were open and he took advantage of them. But he was much on his own on the 28-yarder. The play was designed for the guard-tackle hole on the strong or right side.
“The Eagles stunted on the play and the hole was stacked up so I just turned outside and thought I’d get a few more yards,” said Laidlaw, a most unheralded back when preseason started.
He veered outside, bounced off a tackle by strong safety Randy Logan, turned down field, got away from free safety Bill Bradley and cornerback John Outlaw, and was finally rolled down at the Eagle 42.
“I’d feel great,” said Scott, except I lost two fumbles.”
True. Dallas scored on five of the first nine possessions, but fumbles by Laidlaw gave the Eagles the ball at their own 20 after it was batted back from the 8, and another time he lost the ball at the Dallas 46. Staubach also flubbed one when, on second-and-9 at the Eagle 9 his pass was intercepted in the end zone by middle linebacker Bill Bergey.
But Laidlaw’s performance far outshadowed his mistakes and the interception was about the only thing Staubach did wrong as he opened the season by hitting on 19 of 28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. In all Dallas rolled for 445 net yards, 5.8 per play.
“It did surprise me we did so well against the Eagles,” said Staubach. “They’ve been gearing for this game the entire preseason. We just made some key plays.”
The passing game was varied. Pearson caught five for 70, including one for a 22-yard TD. Tight end Billy Joe DuPree nabbed five for 42 and split end Golden Richards was hit three times for 73 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown play 3:11 into the third. These were the final Cowboy points, though Tom Landry’s club substituted freely in the fourth period and let the clock run out when it was at the Eagle 5-yard line without trying to score.
Staubach hit four straight passes for 53 yards in one TD drive and three of three in another. He picked up a blitz when he found Pearson, who unfortunately for cornerback John Outlaw, was man-to-man.
“I faked a post, saw his feet gel tangled and then cut for the flag,” said Pearson. “Just when I broke back Roger released the ball and it was right there for the TD.”
Before Richards scored his TD he hauled in a 45-yard throw from Staubach, who let the ball go off balance after a good rush. But on first-and-10 at the Eagle 19. Dallas had planned a running play when Staubach noticed the weakside linebacker was lining up inside. He audibled to the hitch screen, which Bobby Hayes used to run.
“I barely heard the audible.” said Richards, “but it was perfect.”
The play was originally successful because the only man who could have stopped it for a limited gain, cornerback Tom Campbell, was wiped out by tackle Ralph Neely whose block launched Golden Richards cut between blocks by center John Fitzgerald and guard Herb Scott for the end zone.
“This is the way we should play.” added Pearson. “We’ve got the passer, the receivers to be wide open and that’s the kind of game I like.”
Frankly, the Eagles were bad.
“I thought we did an average job, considering we were playing a class team such as Dallas.” said coach Dick Vermeil.
“We did a good job.” said Landry. “We jumped in front 27-0 and kind of sat on it, letting them come back.”
“If we’d kept the first team defense in all the way we’d have shut them out,” said linebacker D.D. Lewis.
The Eagles changed up a bit for this game. They came out in an unbalanced line and had some success early running at the Cowboy weak side. They also did not shift their backs, which they had been doing. Dallas had defensive priorities of pressuring young quarterback Mike Boryla and limiting receivers Harold Carmichael and Charles Young. However, Boryla was only trapped once – by Jordan and free safety Randy Hughes – and didn’t seem under that much pressure, though he was able to hit only 14 of 31 passes for 152 yards.
“He was afraid of our end rush so he wasn’t dropping back as far,” said Jordan. “He was trying to get off quick passes but he’s not going to beat us with that. He might have gotten a little confused with our defenses at times, too.”
But Dallas got the turnovers, recovering three fumbles by running back Jim McAlister, with Hughes grabbing a pair and linebacker Bob Brennig one. Cornerbacks Mel Renfro and Mark Washington also got interceptions and Benny Barnes picked up one which was called back on a personal foul.
The Eagles, who had not been inside the Dallas 28, finally moved 90 yards in 11 plays for an early fourth period TD as Boryla finally started to find Carmichael and Young.
A crowd of 54,052 left hoping the Cowboys are as good as they look. And it probably would not have mattered if the Eagles were as bad as they looked on this particular day.