50 Seasons Series: Landry-Era Dynasty Ends in 1982

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

Between 1966 and 1982, the Cowboys appeared in 12 conference (or, prior to 1970, NFL) title games and five Super Bowls. During that time, the Cowboys never had a losing season and missed the playoffs just once. In 16 trips to the playoffs, the Cowboys won at least one playoff game 12 times.

Having defeated the Buccaneers and Packers in the 1982 playoffs, Dallas traveled to Washington to face the Redskins for the NFC championship. The Cowboys fell behind 14-3 in the first half, thanks in part to dominant performances by the Washington offensive line and defense. More problematic, though, was the poor performance of the Dallas special teams units, which gave up a fumble on a punt and allowed a 76-yard kickoff return. Before halftime, Dexter Manley knocked quarterback Danny White out of the game, leaving the Cowboys to rely on backup Gary Hogeboom to attempt a comeback.

Hogeboom threw touchdown passes to Drew Pearson and Butch Johnson to close the gap to 21-17 in the third quarter. However, Hogeboom threw two costly interceptions that led to the final 10 points for the Redskins. The Cowboys failed to score for the remainder of the game, and the Redskins were on their way to Super Bowl XVII.

For Dallas, the Cowboys would return to the playoffs two more times, but the team never won another playoff game during the Tom Landry Era. Sports Illustrated referred to the Washington game as the end of the Landry-Era dynasty. It was.

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  • Tim Truemper

    Comments on comments–I find the statements by Manley and Riggins to be ignorant and unfounded. Manley says the Cowboys (i.e. players) thought they were America’s team. Players did not think that and we Cowboy historian all know how that term originated and then endured. Riggins called the sack on White when he was inujured as a turning point play. If so, then how did Dallas close an 11 point gap to 21-17 in the second half behind Hogeboom? While often forgotten, Dallas had a chance to take the lead early in the 4th quarter as Hogeboom barely missed a wide open Timmy Newsome that he could have taken in for a go ahead TD.
    I have the utmost respect for Joe Gibbs and many of the Redskin players on that team. However, the remarks of the two other players, who both had checkered personal histories while having enormous football talent, are just more “myth making” about that game.

  • Mike Little

    Hey Tim,I had forgotten the Newsomowe play.I do remember Hogeboom having a rocket arm,but a bumblin,stumblin pocket prescence.You know there had been an intense dislike from D.C. to Dallas from the very beginning.George Marshall who owned the Redskins absoulutley did not want Dallas to have a franchise,since he didn’t want leauge expansion in the south.The rivalry was filled with great games in the 60’s and,a healthy hatred in the 70’s.Dallas was Hollywood,and Washington was the Hogs.The rivalry toned down a bit after George Allen,and has never been quite the same.Matt you said it perfectly.This was Tom Landry’s last moment in the quest for football glory.I hope you guys had a chance to read last Sundays DMN article on Alicia Landry.Wonderful story on a beautiful family.

  • http://tinyurl.com/CowboyBooksBlog Fred Goodwin

    Mike, I agree with your assessment of the Alicia Landry article. The online version of the article doesn’t say so, but as printed in the paper, it was subtitled, “Cowboys’ 50th Season / An Occasional Series”.
    Maybe Jerry Jones wants to delay celebrating the franchise’s 50th anniversary until 2010, but at least one media outlet is properly celebrating the team’s 50th season in 2009, as it should.

  • Matt Cordon

    By 1982, broadcasts liked to feature the Cowboys because for all of who loved the team, there were plenty who hated the team with equal vigor. I think it must have been easy for opponents to find reasons to want to beat Dallas. Maybe the Cowboys were cocky, but even as an 11-year-old, I don’t remember being very confident about the Cowboys’ chances in this game. This was, of course, the same team that lost title games in 1980 and 1981. The ’82 team did not head into the playoffs with much momentum (unlike Washington), so I have a hard time believing the Cowboys had already “packed their bags” for SB XVII.
    If the Landry dynasty didn’t end with this game, it almost certainly ended when the Redskins routed the Cowboys in week 15 in 1983. Prior to the game, Dallas was 12-2. Dallas did not win another game after that in 1983, and then missed the playoffs in 1984.

  • Tim Truemper

    Great comments. And being a follwer since 1966, I have a lot of awareness of the rivalry with Washington. I would have to say that the rivalry picked up when George Allen became coach because he made the Redskins competitive (maybe even the one year Lombardi coached may have been a catalyst), Dallas was hitting its stride (won first SB Allen’s first year as coach), and Allen himself who personalized the rivalry and used words like “hate.” I don;t think it diminished too much when Gibbs eventually became coach other than that Dallas lost some of its competitiveness.
    One the demise of the Landry era, this game certainly was a major marker. I think there were several events that pointed to the downward slide. The insidious decline was such that it did not keep me from getting my hopes up each year that things were going to straighten out. Another big one to me was White getting his wrist broken against the Giants in 198?. Went from 6-2 to a losing record and no more playoffs. Of course there were many other indicators, as Matt’s summaries aptly show, such as the string of poor drafts. Well, the next few years are going to be tough to revisit!

  • Mike Little

    1986 was the year,and the Cowboys were averaging 30 points a game under Danny,and Paul Hackett over the offense.The feeling then for me was,maybe there was a little Cowboy magic left for Coach Landry.It certainly told us how valuable a healthy Danny White was plus his leadership.

  • Matt Cordon

    Mike– I’ve always thought the job Landry did in ’85 and half of ’86 was great, and the drafts were better. Mike Sherrard was a real talent– just really fragile. I don’t think the team would have ever completely turned around under Landry like it did under Johnson (we would have had Herschel Walker for years), but it could have returned to respectability.

  • melonball

    How prophetic was Butch Johnson’s quote at the end of Gary Meyer’s DMN article covering that game?
    “It just gets worse.”
    Boy, it sure did.

  • Tim Truemper

    Thanks Mike for the info-yes 1986. My memory failed me and I did not have time to lok it up. And about Paul Hackett. He did help to rejuvenate the offense and as Matt said, some of the drafts did improve a bit. Not sure where the team might have gone over the long haul. Before Landry got fired, he intended to draft Aikman. And there were several good players on the team that stck around the JJ purge.

  • Mike Little

    You guys are all right on the money.If all of us longtime Cowboys fans are really truthful about the past,then in my opinion the combination of poor drafting starting from the late 70’s,a more competetive division,and leauge as a whole,a different type of player requiring a differrent style of coaching,and at times Coach Landry refusing to change offensive,or defensive philosophy was the gradual,and ultimate changing of the guard for Dallas.Like most good football coaches say,it starts with having talent,and as Matt pointed out Tom landry did well with what he had,but not to the standards he had established for so long.

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