50 Seasons Series: Cowboys Start 4-1 in 1984, but Hogeboom Struggles

This post marks the return of the 50 Season Series. From January through October 2009, this series covered the years from 1960 through the beginning of 1984. The next two posts will cover the 1984 season, which will lead into the second 25 seasons. The Cowboys, incidentally, celebrate the 50th anniversary of their founding on January 28.

Gary Hogeboom

Gary Hogeboom had his moments in 1984, but a 4-3 start doomed his time as a starter.

The last post about the 1984 Cowboys noted that the team failed to retool during the 1984 offseason. The beginning of the season also marked a big change, as the Tom Landry decided to replace starter Danny White with Gary Hogeboom. Hogeboom was more popular in the locker room with other players, and the team suffered through four seasons of playoff losses under White.

The move was not a complete disaster, but Hogeboom did not turn out to be the answer. The Cowboys looked impressive in their opener against the Rams and started the season at 4-1. By mid-October, however, the Cowboys had fallen to 4-3, and White eventually earned his job back.

Week 1: Dallas 20, L.A. Rams 13

The Cowboys overcame a 13-0 deficit to pull out a 20-13 win in Anaheim. Hogeboom completed 33 of 47 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown, while Tony Dorsett picked up 81 yards on the ground with one score. The win avenged a loss to the Rams in the 1983 playoffs.

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 28, Dallas 7

The Cowboys fell behind 21-0 in the first half, and the Giants never looked back. Phil Simms threw three touchdowns, and the New York defense forced four turnovers.

Here is an article about the game from Sports Illustrated.

Week 3: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17

The Cowboys used a razzle-dazzle play to pull away from the Eagles. Leading 16-10 late in the third quarter, Hogeboom threw lateral to receiver Mike Renfro, who tossed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Doug Donley. The Eagles cut the lead to 23-17, but Dallas held on for the win. Hogeboom finished with more than 300 yards for the second time in three games.

Week 4: Dallas 20, Green Bay 6

With the Packers using both Lynn Dickey and Randy Wright, Green Bay only managed to complete 11 of 35 passes, as the Cowboys improved to 3-1 with a 20-6 win. Timmy Newsome and Tony Dorsett scored for the Cowboys.

Week 5: Dallas 23, Chicago 14

Despite allowing 155 rushing yards to Walter Payton, the Cowboys managed a 23-14 win at Solider Field. Tony Dorsett had the biggest play of the game, taking a screen pass 68 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Week 6: St. Louis 31, Dallas 20

Prior to this game, the last time that Dallas lost to the Cardinals at home was 1977, in a game where Jim Hart hit Mel Gray on a 49-yard touchdown to help St. Louis to a win. In 1984, receiver Roy Green was the threat, as he caught touchdown passes of 70 and 45 yards from Neil Lomax to help the Cardinals pull out the win. Landry’s confidence in Hogeboom looked shaken, as the coach replaced Hogeboom with White late in the third quarter.

Week 7: Washington 34, Dallas 14

The Cowboys fell behind 17-7 in the first half against the Redskins, then watched Joe Theismann completed an 80-yard touchdown to Calvin Muhammad in the third quarter that increased the Redskin lead. By the fourth quarter, Dallas was behind 34-7. Hogeboom threw two interceptions and was replaced again by White.

Dallas Morning News quote: “How can something that started so good turn so bad so quickly and for so long?”

Week 8: Dallas 30, New Orleans 27

The Cowboys managed to remain above .500 at the midway point of the year with an amazing comeback win against the Saints. The Cowboys fell behind 27-6 in the third quarter and looked dead in the water. However, reserve running back Chuck McSwain blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, which set up a short touchdown run by Tony Dorsett. From there, White (who replaced an injured Hogeboom) continued the comeback by hitting Renfro on a 12-yard touchdown pass to cut the New Orleans lead to 27-20.

With just under three minutes to play, Randy White sacked Ken Stabler and forced Stabler to fumble the ball. Jim Jeffcoat recovered the ball for a touchdown, and the game was tied. Dallas was unable to score in regulation, but a Rafael Septien field goal in overtime gave the Cowboys their fifth win of the season.

At the midway point of the 1984 season, Dallas, St. Louis, and Washington each had 5-3 records, while the Giants and Eagles both stood at 4-4. However, Dallas had lost to three of the four division rivals.

For more…

Pro-Football-Reference: 1984 Cowboys

Dallas Morning News Archive

Coming up…

The Cowboys can’t overcome losses to the Bills and Giants and miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

  • Mr. Mulligan

    What? Ken Stabler played for the Saints at some point in his career? Unreal, ha ha.

  • Tim Truemper

    As has been noted before like others (e.g. Fred Goodwin) on this blog, Dallas could look great and then look shaky. Why Hogeboom was popular in the locker room I really don’t know. He did have a more fiery personality. But DW was steady and smart. Maybe the three Championship losses was beginning to wear thin. Thoughts? Also, glad to see the series pick back up Matt. Your’e doing a wonderful thing.

  • White vocally supported management during the ’82 player’s strike; his Cowboys team-mates never forgave him for that.

    He would go on to cross the picket line during the ’87 strike, but so did others like Tony Dorsett & Randy White.

  • I think there was a feeling that the Landry would find a way to retool the team, much the way he, Schramm, and Brandt did in the 1980s. The ’84 season seemed like a stumbling block, much like the ’74 season. White was associated with those losses, and I think there was sentiment among fans (not unanimous by any means) that a big change like this would help the team.

    The problem, of course, was that the talent was thinning out. The receiving corps that Hogeboom and White played with that year wasn’t bad, but that’s the best we can say about it. Doug Donley never emerged as a real starter, and Mike Renfro was a possession receiver at best. Hogeboom was beaten up in the loss to the Giants (see the SI article for more on that) and the team was turning the ball over way too much.

    The bottom was about to fall out– remember that 1984 was the year we went to play a winless Buffalo team…

  • Incidentally, Stabler was the starter in New Orleans in 1982 and 1983, but he lost the job when the Saints brought in Richard Todd from the Jets. The State of Alabama must have loved the Saints that year. Stabler only played in three games before he was out of the league. Todd wasn’t far behind.