Cowboys’ Win over Atlanta in the 1978 Playoffs Is Too Close for Comfort

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

The Cowboys were 16-point favorites when they hosted the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, but Dallas was unable to put Atlanta away until the fourth quarter.

The leading rushing for the game was Atlanta fullback Bubba Bean, who has 72 yards on 17 carries. The second leading rusher was Dallas fullback Scott Laidlaw (66 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns). Tony Dorsett was held to 65 yards on 14 carries, with a long run of just 12 yards.

Touchdown runs by Bean and Laidlaw, along with field goals by each team, left the score tied 10-10 in the second quarter. The Falcons took the lead when Steve Bartkowski hit Wallace Francis for a 17-yard score, and then the Cowboys got sloppy. Here is a video clip from the game:

Atlanta only managed a field goal as a result of the Dorsett fumble shown in this clip, giving the Falcons a 20-13 halftime lead. Dallas also lost quarterback Roger Staubach when he was hit in the head by Robert Pennywell.

Danny White performed admirably in relief, though, throwing a game-tying score to tight end Jackie Smith. When the Falcons botched punt in the fourth quarter, giving Dallas field position in Atlanta territory, the Cowboys marched in for a game-winning touchdown by Laidlaw.

With the win, Dallas had to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

Reborn Dallas Dooms Sky-High Atlanta, 27-20 (DMN)

Box Score (P-F-R)

  • Thank goodness for Danny White.

    When was the last time the Cowboys had a back-up that you could trust to win a game for you? Steve Beuerlein? Bernie Kosar? Jason Garrett?

    Its been way too long!

  • Martin


  • melonball

    I think Kitna can keep it together for us if he’s called on to finish a game or start a couple of games. That’s assuming age hasn’t devastated his ability yet, which is always possible.

  • Tim Truemper

    This was one of the scariest games I remember watching Dallas play in the playoffs. They stumbled around on offense and looked like they wanted to lose. when Danny White came on, it really perked up. Interstingly, the offense would be ineffective against the Rams too while the defense would be great in both of these games.

  • Gus

    I was actually at this game. My future ex-wife bought us tickets as a Christmas present. GOD AWFULLY cold in Texas Stadium that day. I was heartbroken when Roger the Dodger got knocked out. I didn’t even know who Danny White WAS! But, he won it and the drive home was happy.

    Notwithstanding the freezing rain. What should have been a 2 hour drive south to Waco turned into about 5. LOUSY weather and roads.

    I still remember that game with fond memories and, even though we’ve been divorced for over 25 years, I still love her for that gift.