50 Seasons Series: ’68 Ends with a Sad Finish in More Ways Than One
This 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.
Cowboys Blow Their Thing, 31-20 (Dallas Morning News)
Box Score (Pro-Football-Reference)