Roger Staubach’s First Miracle


This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

Roger Staubach had already been a Super Bowl MVP by the 1972 season, but his status as a miracle worker began in the 1972 playoffs. Exactly one month after losing 31-10 to the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys had to travel to San Francisco for a divisional playoff game.

After three quarters, the Cowboys trailed 28-13. Staubach replaced an ineffective Craig Morton with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter. Staubach did not have a great fourth quarter overall, but a 48-yard run by Calvin Hill early in the fourth quarter set up a Toni Fritsch field goal. Dallas still could not move the ball consistently, though, and trailed 28-16 with 1:53 remaining in the game. 49er fans started leaving at that point.

After a short punt, Dallas got the ball back at its own 45. Staubach went to work, driving the ball to the 20-yard line. With Staubach calling his own plays, he hit Billy Parks from 20 yards out to cut the 49er lead to 28-23.

The Cowboys needed a successful onside kick and got it. Backup linebacker Ralph Coleman hit Preston Riley and knocked the ball loose. Mel Renfro fell on the ball, giving the Cowboys new life.

Staubach ran up the middle for a 21-yard gain, giving Dallas the ball at the San Francisco 29.  Staubach then hit Parks for 19 yards to the San Francisco 10. On the next play, Staubach hit Ron Sellers on a hook for a touchdown.

Like the 49ers would nine years later in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, San Francisco still had a chance in the waning seconds. However, Charlie Waters intercepted a John Brodie pass to give Dallas the 30-28 win.

U1760369.jpgThe Reactions

Staubach: “IT’S JUST unbelievable. I knew we had time to score
but things just kept going wrong. But … you can’t give up. Can you?”

Landry: “I’ve
never been this excited. I’ve never seen us so emotional.
I guess we weren’t as emotional in the Super Bowl win because we could
see it coming the entire last quarter. This one kind of … well, burst
on us.”

More Resources

A Roger Rally Leaves SF in Tears (DMN)

Box Score

  • Cosme D. Ripol

    Roger Staubach was the greatest “last two minute” quarterback to EVER play the game – better than Montana, better than Elway, better than Unitas.

  • I didn’t get to see this game but have read a lot about it. Seen tons of highlights including Larry Cole rolling around on the ground.. crazy.

    My fondest Staubach comeback came in his final regular season game. Cowboys 35 – Redskins 34..

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