The 1969 Cowboys Crash. Hard.
The end of the Cowboys’ first decade as an NFL team should not have been this disasterous. In four seasons, the Cowboys managed a combined regular season record of 42-12-2, including the 11-2-1 record in 1969.
The team’s playoff record during that time: 1-4, not counting Playoff Bowl appearances. The fourth loss came on December 28, 1968 in a 38-14 drubbing at the hands of the Cleveland Browns.
Against the Browns, more than 69,000 fans watched Craig Morton struggle to complete a pass, leading those fans to call for Roger Staubach to come into the game. Morton completed only 8 of 24 for 92 yards and two interceptions. He threw a pick in the fourth quarter that was returned 88 yards for a touchdown by Walt Sumner, giving the Browns a 38-7 lead.
At the end of the game, the fans saw kicker Mike Clark completely miss the ball on an onside kick attempt after the Cowboys scored to make the final score 38-14.
[Incidentally, Clark is best known for (a) kicking the shortest field goal in Super Bowl history; and (b) missing the ball on a meaningless onside kick. Too bad for a player who lasted ten years in the league and made a Pro Bowl]
The Cowboys appeared in one more game following the 1969 season. On January 3, 1970, the Cowboys welcomed a new decade by suffering the first shutout in team history: a 31-0 loss to Los Angeles, which hardly resembled a game.
Good news item #1: Nobody really considered the Playoff Bowl to be a game that counted. When game is known as the Runnerup Bowl, Jam Bowl, and Loser Bowl, most would prefer to forget it.
Good news item #2: The Cowboys had a pretty good decade during the 1970s, to say the least.