50 Seasons Series: ’68 Ends with a Sad Finish in More Ways Than One

53062379.jpgThis post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

Fans of the 2007 Dallas Cowboys can certainly relate to fans of the 1968 Cowboys. In 2007, Dallas overcame years of mediocrity and playoff disappointment to post a 13-3 record, including two wins over the New York Giants. The curtain fell shut suddenly, however, when the Giants upset the Cowboys in the divisional round of the playoffs.

In ’68, the Cowboys rebounded from two heartbreaking losses to the Packers by posting a 12-2 record in one of the finest regular season in team history. The Cowboys beat the Browns early in the 1968 season and won their final five games heading into the playoffs. Most expected the big matchup in the NFL that season to be between Dallas and Baltimore, but it never happened.

From Bob St. John:

The Dallas Cowboys were reincarnated as the Ancient Mariner

here on a cold, bleak Saturday afternoon with 81,496 fans watching in

person and the world looking on through the miracle they call television.

Dallas was a Greek Tragedy. The Cowboys had hoped to take that final

step to the NFL championship and had worked toward that goal since

mid-July. But, actually, Tom Landry’s club took a step backward as

Cleveland won the Eastern Conference title, 31 20. Probably, it was

worse than the score indicated.

Against the Browns, the Cowboys took a 10-3 lead thanks to a Chuck Howley fumble return and a field goal by Mike Clark. Cleveland showed its big-play ability by tying the game at 10 on a 45-yard pass from Bill Nelson to running back Leroy Kelly.

What killed the Cowboys were two Don Meredith interceptions early in the second half. One was returned for a touchdown. The other set up a Kelly touchdown run. With the score 24-10, Tom Landry turned to Craig Morton, who was unable to spark a comeback.

Don Meredith’s career was over, save an appearance in the Playoff Bowl. Running back Don Perkins finished the game with 51 rushing yards in his final game that counted.

For more…

Cowboys Blow Their Thing, 31-20 (Dallas Morning News)

Box Score (Pro-Football-Reference)

  • What a sad end to a star-crossed career.

    Who knows how different things might’ve been had Dallas won that game. I think it was Brad Sham who wrote an article opining that, if Meredith had won and stuck around, we might never have kept Roger, who would’ve languished on the bench as a third-stringer.

    But Meredith retired (to reappear on MNF), Roger eventually took over from Morton, and you know the rest . . .

  • Tim Truemper

    I was very dejected after that game–I just knew we would win (I was in the 7th grade at the time and was pretty naive).

    As Fred states above, a lot changed with that game–who knows what would have happened in the QB realm if Dallas had won. Then again, there was still Baltimore to beat and then the SB against the Jets. So if Meredith faltered in either one of those….