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Here is an animated GIF from an old-school game between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams. Trivia questions are below the image.
1. The Cowboys beat the Rams on Thanksgiving Day. During which season did this game take place?
2. Who was the L.A. running back being tackled by Bob Lilly and Cornell Green?
3. Which former Cowboy caught a 41-yard pass for the Rams?
4. Which Dallas player scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter?
5. The Rams had changed from their gold-and-blue uniforms to blue-and-white uniforms in 1965. When did the Rams return to gold and blue?
This is the first part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
Not all famous games will appear on this list. For example, the Mad Bomber game from Thanksgiving Day in 1974 is a famous game, but it was hardly pivotal, given that the Cowboys missed the playoffs that year.
Instead, this series will focus on games that marked turning points—good and bad—in franchise history.
December 5, 1965
“A Loser No More”
Between the first game in franchise history on September 24, 1960 and week 11 of the 1965 season, the Dallas Cowboys had a combined record of 22-53-4. The ’65 team lost to the Washington Redskins in week 11, dropping the Cowboys’ record to 4-7 with three games remaining.
Dallas had to travel to Franklin Field in Philadelphia to face the Eagles in week 12 on December 5, 1965. Both teams were 4-7 and seemed to be heading nowhere.
Former Dallas kicker Sam Baker kicked his third field goal of the game to give the Eagles a 16-14 lead in the second half.
Baker lined up for another field goal late in the third quarter. However, Jethro Pugh managed to break through the line to block the kick. Mike Gaechter recovered, giving Dallas the ball in Eagle territory. Don Meredith soon found Frank Clarke on a 21-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys the lead in the third quarter.
Cornell Green blocked another field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, and Baker missed on a short field goal late in the game. Dallas pulled out the win, 21-19.
Not an important game at first glance, but the win sparked a three-game winning streak to end the 1965 regular season, giving Dallas a 7-7 record. Dallas even played in the Playoff Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Colts.
The rest of the 1960s for the Cowboys looked much different than the first half. The Cowboys’ combined record between week 12 of the 1965 season and the rest of the 1960s was 45-12-2. Dallas would not have another losing season until 1986.
Jason Witten will someday become a member of the Ring of Honor, and he has a chance to become a member of the Hall of Fame.
His career, though, appears to be on the decline. After two weeks, he has only 46 yards on six receptions.
He now has 9,845 receiving yards, meaning he needs 155 more yards to surpass 10,000. He ranks 42nd in NFL history in receiving yards. Among tight ends, he ranks third behind Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe. Witten should surpass Sharpe soon, as Witten trails Sharpe by 215 yards.
As expected, much of the talk this week centered on what was wrong with Tony Romo’s head.
Other talk focused on the Dallas defense. Many thought the Tennessee Titans would repeat their efforts from their week 1 win over Kansas City and give the Cowboys all sorts of trouble.
(Admittedly, I thought the Cowboys would struggle.)
Instead, Dallas ran the ball 43 times and won the time of possession 41:11 to 18:49.
The last time the Cowboys ran the ball at least 43 times was 2010 in an overtime win over Indianapolis. The time before that was in 2005. Sunday’s game at Tennessee marked just the tenth time since 2000 that the Cowboys have run the ball at least 43 times.
Their record in those games: 9-1, including the Cowboys’ 26-10 win over the Titans.
DeMarco Murray has looked dominant in two games, despite losing two fumbles in those games. He rushed 29 times for 167 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
The last Dallas player with at least 29 attempts? Julius Jones in 2005.
Murray’s previous high in rushing attempts was 26 in a 31-7 win over the Rams in 2013.
Murray now has 285 rushing yards. Until now, no Dallas runner ever had as many as 285 yards after two games. The previous high after two weeks was 277, set by Emmitt Smith in 1995.
At this rate, Murray would finish the season with 2,280 yards. Let’s not go overboard with these stats, but he’s looking like an elite back.
The Dallas defense held the Titans to 314 total yards. The Cowboys also had two interceptions, including a great pick by linebacker Rolando McClain.
This marked just the sixth time during the Jason Garrett era where the Cowboys have won by 16 or more points. The Cowboys managed just one win by that margin last year and did not win any times in 2012 by that margin.
The Cowboys and Redskins are now 1-1. The Giants fell to 0-2. The Eagles face the Colts on Monday night.
The Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 season was 43 seconds old when they fell behind for the first time against San Francisco on Sunday.
The season was less than 10 minutes old when the 49ers easily drove 80 yards in 4 plays to score their second touchdown. At that point, San Francisco led 14-3.
The season was 10 minutes and 8 seconds old when Tony Romo threw his first interception of the year. One play later, the Cowboys were behind 21-3.
Romo threw two more interceptions in the second quarter. The 49ers turned around after one of those picks and drove for another score.
It took less than 30 minutes to witness an implosion.
* * *
DeMarco Murray had a good game overall, rushing for 118 yards on 22 carries. However, San Francisco’s Chris Culliver returned Murray’s fumble on the opening drive of the game for a score.
When the Cowboys needed to rely on Murray, they didn’t.
The Cowboys had a 2nd and 1 from the 49er 2 on the Cowboys’ second drive of the game. Dallas tried a play-action pass, but Justin Smith sacked Romo for a nine-yard loss. Dallas settled for a field goal and trailed 7-3. The team would never get close tying the game after that.
Romo threw all three of his interceptions into double coverage. The second of the two occurred when Dallas, while trailing 21-3, moved the ball to the 49er 5 and had a first and goal.
Run Murray? Oh, of course not. Romo rolled to his right, did not see a wide open Dwayne Harris, and threw a lob pass into a group of 49er defenders. Patrick Willis picked off the pass in the end zone, and Dallas did not score again in the first half.
Romo threw one more interception after trying to force the ball into double coverage. San Francisco again moved downfield rather easily, scoring another touchdown with less than 40 seconds left.
* * *
Yes, the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the second half, but the game was not close. Dez Bryant left the game after apparently suffering dehydration. He was not much of factor before that.
The drubbing thrilled the crowd, which apparently consisted of more Niner fans than Cowboy fans. Not surprising, but still disappointing.
The Redskins lost to the Texans, but the Eagles came back to beat the Jaguars. The Cowboys are going to be in an uphill battle for the division. If today is any indication, battle is not the right word.
The Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Nearly all simulations and predictions favor the 49ers.
The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers will face one another for the 34th time, including playoffs, since 1960 on September 7. It will mark the first time since 2011 that the teams have played.
The rivalry dates back to the Cowboys’ inaugural season of 1960. In fact, the 49ers were the first team the Cowboys ever played during preseason. On a hot afternoon in Seattle on August 6, 1960, the Cowboys fell just short of a win. Trailing 16-10 late in the game, Dallas took over the ball at its own 37. Eddie LeBaron moved the team to the San Francisco 28 with about a minute left. However, Dave Baker picked off a LeBaron pass to end the drive and secure the win for San Francisco.
More than three months later, the teams played again during the regular season at the Cotton Bowl. LeBaron struggled in the contest, throwing three interceptions. However, his 76-yard touchdown pass to Frank Clarke early in the fourth quarter gave Dallas a 14-9 lead.
Nevertheless, the 49ers roared back and scored 17 unanswered points to win the game 26-14.
Dallas secured its first win over the 49ers on November 7, 1965.
During regular season matchups, Dallas has a 11-14-1 record against San Francisco. The Cowboys’ playoff record against the 49ers is 5-2. Thus, both teams are 16-16-1 in combined regular season and playoff games.
During various times in the 1960s and early 1970s, Tom Landry was rather notorious for swapping starting quarterbacks. Whether it was Eddie LeBaron vs. Don Meredith, Don Meredith vs. Craig Morton, or Craig Morton vs. Roger Staubach, Landry did not seem to shy from quarterback controversies.
Of course, once Staubach led the team to the promised land in 1971, those controversies ended. And when Staubach retired after the 1979 season, Danny White took over without any real competition.
By 1984, the Cowboys had lost in the playoffs during four consecutive seasons. The focus of the news during training camp in 1984 was on the QB position, where Gary Hogeboom was trying to unseat White as the starter.
Landry made a decision 30 years ago to move Hogeboom into the starting position. Landry hardly gave Hogeboom a full vote of confidence.
Landry said the Cowboys’ quarterback position, like all others on the team, would be evaluated on a game- by-game basis as part of what he called a ”reshaping” process. That process begins at Anaheim, Calif., Monday night, when the Cowboys open against the Los Angeles Rams.
”This is not like quarterback decisions I’ve made in the past,” said Landry, who was visibly nervous during the Dallas news conference at which he announced the change. ”If we were going to rebuild this team, we would not be thinking about making the playoffs. But we are going to be reshaping this team. We still have the players to make it to the playoffs. We can be in contention this year. But it is going to take a lot of hard work.”
Landry would give no specific reasons for switching from the 32-year- old White, a starter in the last four seasons, to the 26-year-old Hogeboom, who has never started a regular-season game in the N.F.L. but who said earlier this summer that he would seek a trade if he were not given the starter’s role.
”For my own reasons,” the coach said, ”I have a feeling that Gary is right for this game. My feeling is the same about Danny White. He is an excellent quarterback and will continue to be an excellent quarterback. I have coached this game. I have played this game. I have to go on my feelings.”
Of course, White was angry, while Hogeboom had to look over his shoulder. Both players saw action throughout the first half of the season, during which the Cowboys went 5-3. White eventually returned to the starting role. The team was 9-5 heading into the final two weeks of the season, and the Cowboys could have made the playoffs with wins in either week. But Dallas lost both games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974.
* * *
Something that really caught my attention in the N.Y. Times article was this blurb about Franco Harris:
The Dallas Morning News reported that Bart Beier, the agent for Franco Harris, had called the Cowboys and told them that the accomplished running back was available to play for them at an annual salary of as little as $330,000. That is about $50,000 less than what Harris would have earned this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who waived him last week because of a contract impasse. According to the Dallas newspaper account, Gil Brandt, the Cowboys’ vice president for personnel development, rejected the offer out of hand, without even discussing it with Landry.