’75 Playoff Win Was Most Improbable
The Cowboys’ next drive was ugly. They began on the their own 26, but a sack and a penalty for delay of game backed the team up. Facing a 3rd-and-18, John Fitzgerald snapped the ball low (for a second time on the drive), and Staubach had to try to scramble. Dallas had to punt, giving the Vikings a chance to ice the game.
Minnesota faced a 3rd and 2 from the Dallas 47 with just over two minutes left. Fran Tarkenton rolled left on a run-pass option. It looked for a second as of Tarkenton may have a hole, but Charlie Waters grabbed Tarkenton’s jersey and pulled Tarkenton down at midfield. Minnesota had to punt at the two-minute warning.
Golden Richards took the punt at the Dallas 15 with 1:51 left. Dallas had to drive 85 yards for a touchdown to win. On first down, Staubach hit Drew Pearson for a nine-yard gain. It was Pearson’s first catch of the game. On the next play, Staubach missed a pass to Golden Richards, setting up a third down and short.
Fitzgerald’s snap was low, but Staubach fielded it. Carl Eller nearly trapped Staubach, but Roger found a way to roll to his left. He hit Pearson at the 31 to keep the drive alive.
On first down, Fitzgerald once again snapped the ball low. Staubach had to fall on the ball for a seven-yard loss, leading Staubach to pound the ball into the ground. On second down, with just under a minute left, Staubach threw the ball away after being hit by Alan Page. On third down, Staubach could not find anyone open and tried to loft a pass to Jean Fugett. The pass was incomplete, leading to a 4th-and-17 play.
Rookie Kyle Davis replaced Fitzgerald at center. Staubach took the snap on the fourth-down play with 44 seconds left. Staubach launched a ball towards the sideline in the direction of Pearson, who caught the ball but was shoved out of bounds. The referee immediately ruled that Pearson would have come down in bounds but for Nate Wright hitting Pearson in the back. 25 yards on the play, and the Cowboys had new life with 37 seconds left.
On first down, Preston Pearson dropped a ball in the flat, stopping the clock. On second down, Staubach and Pearson made history:
Bender: So now we go to a second and 10. 32 seconds left.
[Staubach launches the ball]
Bender: He is going for broke…Drew Pearson…He got it! Touchdown!
[Pearson throws the ball into the stands]
Bender: I didn’t know he had it for a while. [inaudible] I don’t believe it!
Bender: [Describes Pearson throwing the ball over the scoreboard]
Unitas: I don’t believe it. The ball was thrown short, and the defender was not watching as Pearson came back to make the catch.
Bender: He caught that ball on his hip.
Unitas: [inaudible] It was a much better catch than it was a throw.
With the improbable win, the Cowboys were scheduled to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams.