Monday’s History: Marion Barber as the Team’s "Closer"

Marion Barber is frequently compared with the likes of Yankee closer Mariano
Rivera, and for good reason. Since Barber arrived in the league in 2005, he has
frequently been called upon to put games away for the Cowboys in the fourth
quarter. Some of these games were very tight, including the Cowboys’ 20-16 win
over the Eagles on Sunday. Others were blowout wins, where Barber was used to grind it out
to kill the clock.

Here’s a look at the games where Barber has been used as the team’s

Oct. 30, 2005: Dallas 34, Arizona 13

Filling in for an injured Julius Jones, Barber carried the ball 27 times for 127
yards in a 34-13 win over Arizona. With the Cowboys leading by at least two
touchdowns, Barber touched the ball 14 times in the fourth quarter.

Oct. 29, 2006: Dallas 35, Carolina 14

The Cowboys had a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter when safety Roy Williams
picked off a pass in Carolina territory. The Cowboys alternated between Barber
and Julius Jones, but it was Barber who found the end zone twice in the final
three minutes to put the game away for Dallas.

Nov. 12, 2006: Dallas 38, Arizona 10

Dallas dominated the Cardinals in Arizona, taking a 20-3 lead late in the third
quarter. In the final 17 minutes of the game, Barber touched the ball 10 times
and scored a short run to increase the lead to 27-3 early in the fourth quarter.

Nov. 23, 2006: Dallas 38, Tampa Bay 10

In another blowout, Dallas held a 35-10 lead in the third quarter. In the final
18:36, Barber ran the ball 11 times and helped to set up the final field goal.

Dec. 16, 2006: Dallas 38, Atlanta 28

The Cowboys had a narrow 31-28 lead at Atlanta when the Falcons punted with 8:58
remaining. Barber took over from there, catching one pass early in the drive and
then running six consecutive times. The sixth rush was a three-yard touchdown,
securing the Dallas win.

Sept. 9, 2007: Dallas 45, N.Y. Giants 35

In a wild season opener, Dallas took a 45-35 lead late in the game when Tony
Romo hit Sam Hurd on a 51-yard touchdown. The Giants punted the ball back to the
Cowboys with 2:08 remaining. From there, Barber ran the ball five straight
times, helping Dallas to run out the clock.

September 16, 2007: Dallas 37, Miami 20

The Dolphins would not give up in the second week of the 2007 season. After
cutting the lead to 30-20 with 3:26 remaining, the Dolphins tried an onside
kick. Dallas recovered, and on the next play, Barber raced 40 yards for the
final score of the game.

September 23, 2007: Dallas 34, Chicago 10

In another surprising blowout in 2007, Dallas held a 27-10 lead in the fourth
quarter and took the ball over with 8:53 remaining. Barber touched the ball
eight consecutive times on a 78-yard drive, which Barber capped off with a
one-yard touchdown run.

Oct. 21, 2007: Dallas 24, Minnesota 14

The Cowboys took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. In the final eight
minutes of the game, Barber carried the ball 11 times, putting the game away.

Nov. 11, 2007: Dallas 31, N.Y. Giants 20

With Dallas leading 31-20 in the fourth quarter, Barber touched the ball eight
times, helping the Cowboys to a key win at the Meadowlands.

Nov. 22, 2007: Dallas 34, N.Y. Jets 3

In a blowout win, Barber touched the ball 11 times in the final 10:47 to help
the Cowboys run out the clock in a Thanksgiving Day win.

Nov. 29, 2007: Dallas 37, Green Bay 27

With the Cowboys holding on to a one-touchdown lead with 5:03 left, the Cowboys
turned to Barber. He carried the ball seven times for 26 yards to help set up a
field goal that iced the game for Dallas.

December 22, 2007: Dallas 20, Carolina 13

The Cowboys’ held a one-touchdown lead with about three minutes remaining.
Needing at least a first down, Barber came through with runs of 9 and 11 yards
to help secure the win for Dallas.

Sept. 15, 2008: Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37

Barber did not put the game away against the Eagles in the second week of the
2008 season, but his one-yard touchdown run was the game winner in an early
season victory.

Oct. 5, 2008: Dallas 31, Cincinnati 22

With the Cowboys barely holding on to a 24-22 lead with 7:39 remaining, the
Cowboys turned to Barber, who gained 20 yards on the team’s final scoring drive
that put the Bengals away.

Nov. 16, 2008: Dallas 14, Washington 10

The Cowboys were holding on to a 14-10 lead over the Redskins when the Cowboys
stopped a Washington drive in Dallas territory. In his greatest effort as a
closer so far, Barber touched the ball 11 straight times. His last run on a
fourth-and-one play put the game away for the Cowboys.

Nov. 23, 2008: Dallas 35, San Francisco 22

With the Cowboys having trouble putting the 49ers away, Dallas turned to Barber
on two fourth quarter drives. He touched the ball eight times, helping the
secure the win.

Sept. 13, 2009: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21

The Cowboys had trouble putting the Buccaneers away in the opening game of the
2009 season. On a late scoring drive, highlighted by a 44-yard pass play from
Romo to Patrick Crayton, Barber ran the ball four times and scored from six
yards out, helping the Cowboys to a win.

Nov. 8, 2009: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16

The Eagles cut the Dallas led to 20-16 with 4:27 remaining in a key NFC East
game on Sunday night. With the Cowboys needing first downs, Dallas gave ball to
Barber, who gained 23 yards on three consecutive carries. Since the Eagles were
out of timeouts, a third down conversion on a pass from Romo to Jason Witten put
the game away.

  • Motley Blue

    Nice list, Matt! Thanks for compiling this.

    I voted for his performance at Washington last season. I agree with you that it was his greatest effort so far.

    Hopefully he will be closing out a lot of games for the Cowboys the remainder of this season … and in his career.

    Again, well done.

  • Jason Neighbors

    Great list, Matt. However, the score for the Nov 12 2006 Cardinal game was only 27-10. It was 20-3, then Barber’s 5 yd run made it 27-3. I only remember because I was at the game with my father who is a Cardinal fan (and, until recently, a long-suffering one at that. 50 years following the Cardinals faithfully- talk about loyalty, heh.)

    Romo has 13 straight Nov wins now, a feat not duplicated since 1950! I wonder who that QB was? I’m gonna guess Otto Graham but I really have no idea. Now that would be an obscure trivia list- the top Nov QB win streaks in NFL history (hint, hint) 🙂

  • Thanks, Jason. I will correct it. I must have confused the score with the Tampa Bay game a couple of weeks later.

    I’ll give the November QB list a shot. That will be a tough one, but obscurity is the name of the game around here, as you know.

  • Tim Truemper

    Matt You could e-mail the guys at Pro Football Reference and see if they will compile it for you. The winning streak for QB’s in November most likely was Otto Grahm though Bobby Layne or Van Brocklin are possibilities

  • Jason Neighbors

    Actually, after thinking about it, the only way it could be Graham is if his starts from the AAFL count.

  • Jason Neighbors

    The Chicago Bears won 23 straight Nov contests between 1945 and 1951. Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack were the starting QBs during that streak, but if Luckman started a couple of those Nov wins for Lujack later on and missed a couple of Nov starts in ’45-’48, he could be the guy.