Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 2, 1985

Jim Jeffcoat: New Force Up Front

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on November 2, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: The Shovel Pass Could Emerge Again

A reader asked Tex Schramm why the team didn’t use the shovel pass, which was popular during the days of Preston Pearson.

Tex’s response:

In our offense, the shovel pass has generally been used when we are in the shotgun formation. The ball is centered directly to the quarterback and he will then flip the ball forward to a running back coming across just behind the line of scrimmage. If the offensive linemen have charged when they should, the runner will cut upfield in the space that the defensive linemen left.

Since you generally go into the shotgun on long yardage situations, trick running plays or even a draw play, are a gamble because if they don’t break clean, you might make a few yars but not enough for the first down. A pass can be a better percentage play.

I’m sure we still have the shovel pass in our arsenal. You’ll probably see it before the season is over.

Cowboys Beat Atlanta on Big Plays by Dorsett and Hill

Dallas improved to 6-2 by beating the Atlanta Falcons, 24-10. Dallas trailed 10-0 early, but big plays by Tony Hill and Tony Dorsett gave the Cowboys the lead. Hill’s 35-yard touchdown reception cut the lead to 10-7. Then, midway through the second quarter, Dallas lined up at its own 40. Dorsett found a huge hole up the middle and ran 60 yards for a touchdown.

Tom Landry on the Dorsett touchdown:

It was a draw play (fake pass) and they came on a blitz. One of their guys came so hard he ran right by Dorsett. He could really have nailed him. And downfield they were playing man-to-man so he just ran between everybody.

With the win, the Cowboys improved to #2 on the Top Ten NFL Poll. Chicago remained #1, while Denver moved up to #3. That meant that teams coached by Mike Ditka, Tom Landry, and Dan Reeves were #1, #2, and #3. Ditka and Reeves, of course, played and coached under Landry.

Legends Play Flag Football Game

A number of Cowboy legends showed up at halftime of the Dallas-Atlanta game to play flag football. It was supposed to be a matchup of quarterbacks Roger Staubach (white team) and Craig Morton (blue team), but Morton injured his knee the night before at a party. Blue team captain Bob Lilly had to rely on Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, and Mike Montgomery to play QB, and their performances gave the white team a distinct advantage. Staubach led his team to three touchdowns in a 21-7 win.

Staubach’s white team consisted of Harvey Martin, Don McIlhenny, Robert Newhouse, Drew Pearson, Jethro Pugh, and Duane Thomas. The blue team consisted of Waters, Harris, Montgomery, Billy Joe DuPree, Preston Pearson, Mel Renfro, and Larry Cole.

A real treat: Tex Schramm served as the referee. Proof:

According to Drew Pearson, Schramm’s gig as  referee was terrible. “The only good thing about him was his uniform.”

Before the real game between the Cowboys and Falcons, Staubach received his Hall of Fame ring.

Run Defense a Key to Success

The cover story featured Jim Jeffcoat, a key member of a defense that had improved considerably between 1984 and 1985. By the midway point of the 1985 season, Dallas was giving up only 87 rushing yards per game at 3.2 yards per attempt. Those numbers were better than any Dallas defense over more than a decade.

David Ponder Likes Living in the Suburbs

This issue featured a rookie defensive tackle named David Ponder, who had been cut in training camp in 1984 but made the team in 1985. His fascinating story: he leased an apartment in Arlington, planned to buy a television stand and a vacuum cleaner, and likes to watch TV and listen to the stereo. He also spent the previous summer playing water volleyball at some of the nearby apartment swimming pools.

(This just isn’t the kind of stuff you get from the Dallas Morning News, now is it? At any rate, Ponder played in four games in 1985 and registered a half-sack. He never played in the NFL again.)


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