So Few Seasons Compare

This was the scene from the last time the Cowboys fell to 1-6-- 1963 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 27-21 loss.

The Cowboys chose to celebrate the 50th anniversary this year rather than celebrate the 50th season last year. Either way, nobody could have imagined that this team would end up being compared with the likes of the 1960, 1988, and 1989 Dallas teams that were so utterly awful.

I’ve noted this before, but the only season that comes close to this one was 1963, which was supposed to be the team’s first breakthrough season. Tom Landry frequently alternated quarterbacks between the younger Don Meredith (then 25) and the more experienced Eddie LeBaron (then 33) for the first six weeks of the season. The offense that had been so explosive in 1962, ranking second in the league, fell to ninth. When the Cowboys fell to 1-5 after losing to the Giants, Landry decided to go with Meredith full time.

On the final Sunday of October, that Dallas team traveled to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers at Forbes Field. Meredith had a solid day overall, throwing for 290 yards with three touchdowns and leading the team to a 21-6 lead. However, the Cowboys suffered through a series of “horrible misfortunes” according to a Dallas Morning News story, and Dallas was unable to extend the lead. The Steelers eventually came back to win 27-21, ruining the day when Dallas receiver Billy Howton set the NFL record for most receptions in a career.

On the first Sunday of November that season, the Cowboys beat the equally hapless Washington Redskins to improve to 2-6. Dallas only managed two more wins that season to finish at 4-10.

The 1963 season is among only five when the Cowboys have failed to win at least five games. Granted, the team only played 14 games in 1961 and 1963, but those were still bad teams. This 2010 group could be the sixth team to fail to win five games unless it can find four wins among the following opponents: Packers, Giants, Lions, Saints, Colts, Eagles (twice), Redskins, and Cardinals. I don’t see it. In fact, I’m not sure I have any confidence that the Cowboys will win a single one of these games, except that Dallas typically finds a way to beat Washington when everything else is in the tank.

If the Cowboys win fewer than four of their remaining games, we can count this not only as the most disappointing season, but also as among the worst six teams in the team’s history. It’s entirely possible that when we celebrate the team’s 75th anniversary in 2035 we’ll have to make the comment about those dreadful teams from 1960, 1988, 1989, and 2010.

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