50 Seasons Series

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Review each year in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, starting with the planning stages in 1959 and through the present day.

 

50 Seasons Series: The “Gelid Confines” of Lambeau Field

2009-03-28_023751.gifThis post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

NFL Films’ legendary narrator John Facenda may end up being best remembered for a line he never said in a highlight film: “On the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field . . . .” This phrase was, of course, made up by ESPN’s Chris Berman, but many associate the line with the 1967 Ice Bowl.

It turns out that Sports Illustrated opened its story about the 1967 NFL Championship Game with a similar phrase: “In the gelid confines of Lambeau Field, on the coldest New Year’s Eve in the cold history of Green Bay, the Green Bay Packers won the right last Sund to move south to Miami.”

Really, it isn’t tough to imagine Facenda’s voice reading that line.

The Dallas Morning News had some originality problems with its headlines the day after the Ice Bowl. One headline of a story written by Kent Biffle read:

C-C-Cowboys F-F-Frozen Out

The headline of a column by Sam Blair in the same issue:

W-W-What a D-D-Day!

Perhaps the best line was written by Bob St. John on January 2, 1968:

There was an unusually high mortality rate on television sets in Dallas Sunday . . . shoes and beer cans in picture tubes and the like.

So Long to Some Founding Members

The Ice Bowl turned out to be the last game that two original Cowboys played in a Dallas uniform.

WR/TE Frank Clarke: Clarke only caught nine passes in 1967, but he saw action against Green Bay in the title game. He retired after the 1967 season. He finished his career in Dallas with 281 receptions for 5214 yards and 50 touchdowns, all team records at the time.

C Mike Connelly: Connelly was an undersized center who played with the Cowboys from 1960 to 1967. He filled in for an injured Dave Manders in 1967, but was then traded to Pittsburgh before the 1968 season.

With the departures of Clarke and Connelly, Don Meredith remained the only original Cowboy (Don Perkins did not play in 1960, so most do not include him as an original member of the team).

50 Seasons Series: The Ice Bowl

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

For three significant members of the 1960s Cowboys– Don Meredith, Don Perkins, and Frank Clarke– the 1967 Ice Bowl was the closest the team would get to an NFL title during their playing careers.

Like the 1966 title game, Green Bay jumped out to a 14-0 first half lead thanks to two touchdowns from Bart Starr to Boyd Dowler. But a touchdown off a fumble recovery by George Andrie in the second quarter, along with a Danny Villanueva field goal, brought the Cowboys back.

In the third quarter, Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard touchdown pass on a halfback pass to Lance Rentzel, giving Dallas a 17-14 lead. As the teams struggled to move the ball in the awful conditions, the Dallas lead held until the final drive of the game.

With about five minutes left to play, Villanueva punted to Willie Wood, who returned the ball to the Green Bay 32.  The final 4:54 belonged to the Packers:

1-10-32 GB (4:54): Bart Start passes to Donny Anderson in the right flat for six yards.
2-4-38 GB (4:27): Chuck Mercein runs off the right end for 7.
1-10-45 GB (3:57): Starr hits Dowler down the middle for 13.
1-10-42 Dal (3:30): Anderson loses 9 trying to run right. Willie Townes broke through the line to make a great tackle in the backfield (see photo below)

2009-03-26_221044.gif2-19-49 GB (2:52): Starr passes right to Anderson for 12.
3-7-39 Dal (2:00): Starr passes right to Anderson for 9.
1-10-30 Dal (1:35): Starr passes to Mercein on the left for 19.
1-10-11 Dal (1:11): Mercein rushes up the middle for 8.
2-2-3 Dal (0:54): Anderson runs right for 2.
1-Goal-1 Dal (0:30): Anderson runs up the middle for no gain.
2-Goal-1 Dal (0:20): Anderson runs up the middle for no gain.
3-Goal-1 Dal (0:16): Starr runs a quarterback sneak for 1. Touchdown.

The Packers were already the dynasty of the 1960s, but the image of Starr falling behind Jerry Kramer remains one of the great images in NFL history. There are a bunch of highlight clips of this game, including the one below:

(Thanks to Fred Goodwin for pointing this out some time ago on this blog): In his book, When All the Laughter Died in Sorrow, Dallas receiver Lance Rentzel notes that he may have caught a touchdown pass in the final seconds if he hadn’t slowed up on a streak route. Dallas started on its own 20  with 13 second left to play.

We got the ball again after the kickoff. There were still a few seconds left. Don called for Hayes and me to run a streak pattern, even though they would definitely be expecting it, but we had to try it. I lined up thinking that he would be looking for Bob first, and as I approached Herb Adderley, I hesitated for an instant, cutting my stride ever so slightly. I wasn’t loafing, but I didn’t really drive by him the way I could have, because I already had him beaten. Then I looked back and saw that Don had thrown it to me, not Hayes. The ball was a yard beyond my reach. I had cost myself at least a couple of feet all because I’d broken stride, all because I hadn’t fully concentrated. I might have caught the ball, and if I had, I probably would have gone the whole way. I’ll never know if anyone else was close enough to catch me, there were still fifty yards to the goal, but I had Adderley beat. I could have won that game on the last play.

Maybe, maybe not. Below is a shot of the play, just as the ball landed out of Rentzel’s reach.

2009-03-26_222720.gifRentzel was near the Green Bay 40, not the 50. Green Bay’s #40 in this shot is strong safety Tom Brown, who appears to have the angle on Rentzel, though it is tough to say whether Brown would have been in a good position had Rentzel been a step or two further downfield. Number 24 is Willie Wood, who was fast as anything, so he may also have caught Rentzel.

Some other stories of the game:

Paradise Lost Once Again for Cowboys In Final Seconds (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1968)

A ch-ch-chilling recollection of the classic ‘Ice Bowl’ (by the great Frank Luska, writing for ESPN.com)

40 years ago: The Ice Bowl (NFL.com)

Box Score (Pro Football Reference)

50 Seasons Series: Cowboys Win Their First Playoff Game

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

Don Meredith only threw 12 passes against the Cleveland Browns in the 1967 divisional round of the playoffs, but he hit on 10 of them. In the shot above, he hit running back Craig Baynham on a three-yard score that put the Cowboys ahead, 7-0.

The Cowboys never looked back. Dallas scored 24 first-half points en route to a 52-14 destruction of Cleveland, giving the Cowboys their first ever playoff win. Meredith threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including an 86-yarder to Bob Hayes (shown immediately below), which was the longest play in NFL playoff history up to that point. Hayes also added punt returns of 64 and 68 yards, which set up two more scores. Hayes finished the day with five receptions for 144 yards.

2009-03-25_222832.gifBaynham scored three playoff TDs during his career, and all of them came against Cleveland. His 50 rushing yards complemented Don Perkins 73 yards on the ground Baynham filled in for Dan Reeves, who injured his shoulder earlier in the game.

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Although LeRoy Kelly picked up 96 yards rushing for Cleveland, the Browns had trouble getting anything going all day. Frank Ryan completed only 14 of 30 passes, and Dallas shut down Paul Warfield most of the game until Ryan hit Warfield on a 75-yard score with Dallas leading 52-7.

The Cleveland game marked one of only two playoff games in which the Cowboys have scored 50 or more points. Dallas also scored 52 in Super Bowl XXVII. In fact, the Cowboys have scored 40 or more points only three times: the two games where they scored 52, and the 1996 playoff win over Minnesota (40-15).

In September, I ran a piece regarding the Dallas-Cleveland rivalry in the 1960s. Here is the summary:

Between 1960 and 1970, Dallas faced Cleveland 20 times, including the
playoffs. The Browns won 14 of those games, including two huge playoff
games at the end of the 1960s. You might or might not know the names of
some of the Cowboy-killers of the decade: Jim Brown (232 yards vs. Dallas in 1963); Bobby Mitchell (3 TDs in 1960; 140 rushing yards in 1962); Rich Kreitling (several touchdown receptions vs. Dallas); Gary Collins (same); Paul WarfieldFrank Ryan (Cleveland QB); Bill Nelson (Cleveland QB); Leroy Kelly (another of Cleveland’s Hall of Fame RBs).

More references:

Meredith, Hayes Black Out Browns (Dallas Morning News, Dec. 25, 1967)

Box Score (Pro Football Reference)

50 Seasons Series: 1967 Regular Season Video Highlights

This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

A year ago, I ran a series of posts featuring NFL Films highlight clips from the 1967 season. Here are two of the links:

Part 1: Defense

Part 2: Offense

Below is the clip featuring highlights from several regular season games:

The games featured include:

Week 4: Dallas 17, Washington 14 (including Dan Reeves’ winning touchdown reception)

Week 5: Dallas 14, New Orleans 10 (in the mud at the Cotton Bowl)

Week 6: Dallas 24, Pittsburgh 21 (Morton late TD to Norman wins the game)

Week 8: Dallas 37, Atlanta 7 (Dan Reeves’ showcase)

Week 11: Dallas 46, St. Louis 21 (Bob Hayes’ three TDs lead the Cowboys)

Week 13: Dallas 38, Philadelphia 17 (Dallas avenges earlier defeat)

The last sentence of the clip provides the preview for tomorrow’s post:

The Dallas Cowboys were champions of the Capital Division. Their appointment with destiny was only a game away if they could defeat the Browns in the Eastern Divisional Playoff. Since the 1967 season was built on the dream of winning the NFL championship, the Browns never stood a chance.

50 Seasons Series: ’67 Cowboys Start Fast but End with a Clang

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

For the first nine games of the 1967 season, the Dallas Cowboys played as if they were true contenders for the NFL crown. However, the team dropped three of its last five games to finish at 9-5. Fortunately, none of the other teams in the new Capital Division came close to matching the Cowboys, so Dallas headed into the playoff for the second straight season.

Here are some links to stories, stats, and such from the 1967 season:

Dallas Morning News: Index to the 1967 Season

Pro Football Reference: 1967 Dallas Cowboys Statistics and Players

Wikipedia: 1967 Dallas Cowboys Season

DallasCowboys.com: 1967 Season

Game Summaries

Week 1: Dallas 21, Cleveland 14

The Cowboys took care of their old foe, the Cleveland Browns, to open the 1967 season. Don Meredith threw touchdown passes to Bob Hayes and Dan Reeves to give the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead. Chuck Howley returned an interception 28 yards for another score, as Dallas cruised to a 21-14 win.

Week 2: Dallas 38, New York Giants 24

Despite the presence of newly acquired quarterback Fran Tarkenton on the Giants, the Cowboys jumped out to a 21-10 halftime lead en route to a 38-24 win over New York at the Cotton Bowl. Meredith was on fire again, throwing four touchdown passes. Hayes caught two of the TD passes, while Reeves and Pete Gent caught the others. The 1967 season marked the third straight year that Dallas had started 2-0.

Week 3: Los Angeles 35, Dallas 13

For most of the 1967 season, the Rams and Colts looked like the best teams. They finished with identical 11-1-2 records, and both recorded wins over the Cowboys. In week 3, the Cowboys and Rams were knotted up a 7-6. However, Los Angeles scored 28 second half points and blew the Cowboys out.

This was the summary from the Dallas Morning News:

Why, in the final period, things had regressed to such depths for the
Cowboys that Roman Gabriel looked like Johnny Unitas, Les Josephson
like Gayle Sayers, Dick Bass like Mighty Mouse and Cowboy tacklers like
the were looking for pennies on the ground. They did not find many,
however. The Rams, who have now won six pre-season games and three
regular season ones, won this one with a boom, 35-13.

The Rams lost their next game to the 49ers but did not lose another game all season. The 22-point loss was the Cowboys’ worst since falling 45-21 to Green Bay in 1964.

Week 4: Dallas 17, Washington 14

It looked as if Dallas would lose its second straight at Washington. The Cowboys trailed 14-10 thanks to touchdown pass from Charley Taylor to Sonny Jurgensen. The Cowboys moved the ball downfield but faced a 4th-and-4 play from the Washington 36, and only 18 seconds remained in the game. Meredith lofted a pass to Reeves on the left sideline, and Reeves was able to take the play in for the game-winning touchdown.

Week 5: Dallas 14, New Orleans 10

In the first game ever played between Dallas and New Orleans, the Cowboys pulled out a win in the mud at the Cotton Bowl. Dallas led 14-7 at halftime, thanks to touchdowns by Don Perkins and Lance Rentzel. New Orleans had several chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Dallas defense made the stops when it had to.

Week 6: Dallas 24, Pittsburgh 21

With Don Meredith out of action for the second straight week thanks to injured ribs, Craig Morton threw three touchdown passes to lead Dallas to a 24-21 win. The Cowboys had blown a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, thanks to two Pittsburgh touchdowns, but Morton’s five-yard TD pass to Pettis Norman gave the Cowboys the win and a 5-1 record.

Week 7: Philadelphia 21, Dallas 14

Since the Cowboys joined the league in 1960, the Eagles had given Dallas all sorts of trouble. Including the week 7 loss in 1967, Philadelphia won 10 of the first 14 matchups between the teams. In week 7, the Eagles jumped out to a 21-0 lead, and despite Craig Morton’s two touchdown passes, Dallas ran out of miracles and lost. With the loss, Dallas stood at 5-2, just one game ahead of the Eagles in the Capital Division.
 
Week 8: Dallas 37, Atlanta 7

Dan Reeves was born in Rome, Georgia, at against Atlanta, Reeves came to life. He scored a total of four touchdowns, including a 60-yard TD pass from Don Meredith in the first quarter. Lee Roy Jordan scored on an interception for a touchdown.

Week 9: Dallas 27, New Orleans 10

A total of 83,437 people showed up in New Orleans to watch the Cowboys visit the Saints. New Orleans took an early lead, but touchdown runs by Don Perkins and Dan Reeves gave the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Frank Clarke scored the only rushing touchdown of his career on a 56-yard end run.

Week 10: Washington 27, Dallas 20

Washington avenged its defeat from earlier in the season by beating Dallas, 27-20. Four Sonny Jurgensen touchdowns gave the Redskins a 27-6 lead, and though Craig Morton threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, they were not enough.

Lance Rentzel had a huge game for the Cowboys, catching 13 passes for 223 yards.

Week 11: Dallas 46, St. Louis 21

The Cowboys improved their record to 8-3 on Thanksgiving Day by routing the St. Louis Cardinals, 46-21. Thanks to two Jim Hart touchdown passes, including a 67 yarder to Jackie Smith, the Cardinals kept the game close in the first half. However, Dallas started airing it out and scored 23 unanswered points to turn the game into a blowout. Lance Rentzel and Bob Hayes both scored two touchdowns, and both gained more than 100 receiving yards. Dan Reeves threw the first touchdown pass of his career, a 74-yarder to Rentzel.

The Cowboys stood at 8-3 with the win. Dallas held a three-game lead over the Eagles with three games to go.

Week 12: Baltimore 23, Dallas 17

The Colts scored 13 fourth quarter points to pull out a win over Dallas in week 12. However, a loss by Philadelphia meant that Dallas had clinched the Capital Division title. Thanks to a touchdown pass from Don Meredith to Bob Hayes, along with a touchdown return from an interception by Dave Edwards, the Cwoboys led 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Two Lou Michaels field goals cut the lead to 17-16. Then with 1:35 remaining in the game, Lenny Moore scored from two yards out to give Baltimore a 23-17 win.

Week 13: Dallas 38, Philadelphia 17

Dan Reeves recorded a touchdown run, touchdown reception, and touchdown pass in the same game, as the Cowboys routed the Eagles, 38-17. The Cowboys were playing without Bob Hayes and then lost quarterback Don Meredith with a broken nose. Nevertheless, Craig Morton filled in just fine, as the Cowboys rolled to a win.

Reeves’ performance took place about a month after Sports Illustrated had run a story indicating that Reeves was “The Unwanted Cowboy,” indicating that Reeves did many different things well but was not superior at anything.

Week 14: San Francisco 24, Dallas 16

San Francisco’s backup quarterback, George Mira, threw three touchdown passes in the first half, giving the 49ers a lead they would never relinquish. Dallas scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, but they were not enough. Running back Craig Baynham scored his first career touchdown with a 1-yard run.

Final Standings

The winners of each of the four NFL divisions made the 1967 playoffs. As champions of the Capital Division, the Cowboys faced the Browns, who win the Century Division. Here were the final standings:

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Capital                  W  L T   PF  PA
Dallas Cowboys           9  5 0  342 268
Philadelphia Eagles      6  7 1  351 409
Washington Redskins      5  6 3  347 353
New Orleans Saints       3 11 0  233 379  
Century                  W  L T   PF  PA
Cleveland Browns         9  5 0  334 297
New York Giants          7  7 0  369 379
St. Louis Cardinals      6  7 1  333 356
Pittsburgh Steelers      4  9 1  281 320

Coastal                  W  L T   PF  PA
Los Angeles Rams        11  1 2  398 196
Baltimore Colts         11  1 2  394 198
San Francisco 49ers      7  7 0  273 337
Atlanta Falcons          1 12 1  175 422

Central                  W  L T   PF  PA
Green Bay Packers        9  4 1  332 209
Chicago Bears            7  6 1  239 218
Detroit Lions            5  7 2  260 259
Minnesota Vikings        3  8 3  233 294

1967 Playoff Schedule:

Cleveland (9-5) at Dallas (9-5)

Los Angeles (11-1-2) at Green Bay (9-4-1)

50 Seasons Series: 1967 Preseason Predictions Focus on Dallas and Green Bay

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

The Cowboys did not add many new players to the mix as they headed into the 1967 season. The names in Dallas were already familiar: Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Dan Reeves, Bob Hayes, Ralph Neely, Bob Lilly, George Andrie, Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro. The newest impact player on the team in 1967 was receiver Lance Rentzel, who was acquired in a trade from Minnesota.

Much of the news of the 1967 offseason focused on the NFL’s new realignment. Green Bay had won two consecutive NFL titles, but for the Packers to win an unprecedented third title, they would have to play six preseason games, fourteen regular season games, and three playoff games.

The team that most believed would stand in Green Bay’s way was Dallas. Some of the predictions:

Pro Football Illustrated: “The Cowboys won so impressively last year, and seemed not yet at their maximum potential, that it’s difficult not to stick with them this year.”

Pro Football 1967 (Jack Zanger): “Tom Landry, acknowledged as one of pro football’s sharpest defensive tacticians, tooled an offense that was the most productive in the league. With all the parts back in palce, the Cowboys should do it again in 1967.”

Sports Illustrated: “After seven painful years in Dallas, Tex Schramm, the Cowboy general manager, and Tom Landry, the serious, thoughtful coach, finally have fashioned what may become a dynasty. The Cowboys arrived in 1966. For the next few years they should remain comfortably at the top of their conference. This is a young, fast and talented football club.”

Dallas opened its 1967 season by travelling to Cleveland to face the Browns. It was about to become a tough year.

50 Seasons Series: One Bright Spot in a Dud of a Draft

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

Any draft that produces a Hall-of-Famer is a pretty successful one. But for the Cowboys in 1967, the selection of Rayfield Wright in the seventh round was the extent of the team’s success in the draft.

Gil Brandt was well-known for taking chances on players from small schools. He hit a number of them in 1967: Illinois Wesleyan, Findlay, Tarleton State, Edward Waters College.

Brandt was also known for taking basketball players and trying to convert them to football players. In 1967, he drafted Kentucky’s Pat Riley, who went on to play in the NBA for the the San Diego Rockets, the L.A. Lakers, and the Phoenix Suns before moving on to a rather successful coaching career.

And Brandt was known for taking players and then watching Landry & Co. try to convert these players to play different positions.

In Wright, Brandt chose all-of-the-above. Wright (6’7″) was a standout basketball player at Fort Valley State College in Georgia. Dallas picked him in the seventh round and turned him into a tight end. In three seasons as a tight end, Wright managed two receptions.

He also played offensive and defensive tackle, and in 1970, he earned the starting spot at right tackle. He held the position for the entire decade and was widely considered the league’s premiere right tackle. In his career, Wright was named to six Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro three times.

The rest of the 1967 draft? Ten of the team’s 14 picks never played professional football. Phil Clark (3rd round) was a backup for three seasons, while Sim Stokes and Harold Deters each played in a total of three professional games.


Round

Name

Pos.

College

Career
3 Phil Clark DB Northwestern Dallas, 1967-1969; Chicago,
1970; New England, 1971
4 Curtis Marker G Northern Michigan n/a
6 Sims Stokes WR Northern Arizona Dallas, 1967
7 Rayfield Wright T Fort Valley State Dallas, 1967-1979
8 Steve Laub QB Illinois Wesleyan n/a
9 Byron Morgan DB Findlay n/a
10 Eugene Bowen HB Tennessee State n/a
11 Pat Riley FL Kentucky n/a
12 Harold Deters K North Carolina State Dallas 1967
13 Al Kerkian DE Akron n/a
14 Tommy Boyd G Tarleton State n/a
15 Leavie Davis DB Edward Waters n/a
16 Paul Brothers QB Oregon State n/a
17 George Adams LB Morehead States

n/a

My Grade: C+. I have a tough time giving this one a good grade, even with the selection of Wright. The Cowboys seemed to have reached on most of these players, and none other than Wright worked out.

Realignment in 1967

The 1967 season was noteworthy in that it marked the first combined NFL-AFL draft. The change meant that teams no longer had to engage in bidding wars to convince draft picks to play in one league instead of the other.

The NFL was divided into four divisions: the Century, the Capitol, the Central and the Coastal. Dallas fell in the Capitol division along with the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and New Orleans Saints.

Here is the complete structure after realignment:

Capitol Division

Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles
New Orleans Saints

Century Division

Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers

Coastal Division

Los Angeles Rams
Baltimore Colts
San Francisco 49ers
Atlanta Falcons

Central Division

Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings

50 Seasons Series: Epilogue to the 1966 Season

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

The Dallas Cowboys entered into the 1967 offseason knowing that they had come close to knocking off the team of the decade. Former Dallas Morning News and Sports Illustrated writer Tex Maule called the 1966 NFL Championship Game one of the three greatest championship games in history, following the 30-28 win by Cleveland over Los Angeles in 1950 and the 23-17 win by Baltimore over the New York Giants in 1958.

The Cowboys did not play flawless football, as they made several mental errors. But even though the Packers made Dallas pay for those mistakes, the game came down to the final seconds before Green Bay could pull out the win.

The 1966 season was one of the greats in team history for the Cowboys. Dallas established more than a dozen team records (see below), some of which stood for years to come.

The Cowboys had to watch the Packers play the Chiefs in Super Bowl I, which Green Bay won, 35-10. The season was not over for nine Cowboys who were named to the Pro Bowl: QB Don Meredith, RB Don Perkins, WR Bob Hayes, C Dave Manders, DT Bob Lilly, DE George Andrie, LB Chuck Howley, CB Cornell Green, and S Mel Renfro.

Below is an update of team and individual records as of 1966.

Dallas Cowboys Records (as of 1966)
 

Season Team Records

 


Record

No.

Year Set

Previous
Most Wins 10 1966 7 (1965)
Most Losses 11 1960 n/a
Fewest Losses 3 1966 7 (1965)
Most Points 445 1966 398 (1962)
Most Points Allowed 402 1962 380 (1961)
Fewest Points Allowed 239 1966 280 (1965)
Most Yards 5145 1966 4912 (1962)
Most Yards Allowed 5325 1963 5184 (1962)
Fewest Yards Allowed 3558 1966 3750 (1964)
Most Passing Yards 3023 1966 2872 (1962)
Most Passing Yards Allowed 4192 1965 3750 (1964)
Fewest Passing Yards Allowed 2130 1960 n/a
Most Rushing Yards 2122 1966 2040 (1962)
Most Rushing Yards Allowed 2242 1960 n/a
Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed 1176 1966 1444 (1965)
Most 1st Downs 287 1966 248 (1963)
Most 1st Downs Allowed 274 1962 254 (1961)
Fewest 1st Downs Allowed 211 1964 216 (1960)
Most Turnovers Caused 43 1961 26 (1960)
Most Turnovers Allowed 50 1960 n/a
Fewest Turnovers Allowed 24 1966 35 (1965)

Season Game Records

Most Points: 56 (10/9/1966 vs. Philadelphia)
Most Points Allowed: 52 (12/9/1962 vs. St. Louis)
Fewest Points Allowed: 0 (10/8/1961 vs. Minnesota)
Most Yards: 652 (10/9/1966 vs. Philadelphia)
Most Yards Allowed: 577 (12/9/1962 vs. St. Louis)
Fewest Yards Allowed: 63 (10/24/1965 vs. Green Bay)
Most Passing Yards: 440 (10/9/1966 vs. Philadelphia)
Most Passing Yards Allowed: 437 (11/18/1962 vs. Chicago)
Fewest Passing Yards Allowed: -10 (minus 10) (10/24/1965 vs. Green Bay)
Most Rushing Yards: 241 (12/11/1966 vs. Washington)
Most Rushing Yards Allowed: 289 (10/22/1961 vs. Philadelphia)
Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed: 7 (10/30/1966 vs. Pittsburgh)
Most Turnovers Caused: 7 (11/3/1963 vs. Washington)
Most Turnovers Allowed: 7 (twice)
Fewest Turnovers Allowed: 0 (several)

Individual Records

Career

Most Rushing Yards: 4558 (Don Perkins, 1961-1966)
Most Rushing TDs: 32 (Don Perkins, 1961-1966)
Most Passing Yards: 12,865 (Don Meredith, 1960-1966)
Most Passing TDs: 98 (Don Meredith, 1960-1966)
Most Receptions: 272 (Frank Clarke, 1960-1966)
Most Receiving Yards: 5095 (Frank Clarke, 1960-1966)
Most Receiving TDs: 49 (Frank Clarke, 1960-1966)
Most Interceptions: 22 (Don Bishop, 1960-1965)
Most Field Goals: 33 (Danny Villanueva, 1965-1966)

Season

Most Rushing Yards: 945 (Don Perkins, 1962)
Most Rushing TDs: 8 (Don Perkins, 1966; Dan Reeves, 1966)
Most Passing Yards: 2805 (Don Meredith, 1966)
Most Passing TDs: 24 (Don Meredith, 1966)
Most Receptions: 65 (Frank Clarke, 1966)
Most Receiving Yards: 1232 (Bob Hayes, 1966)
Most Receiving TDs: 14 (Frank Clarke, 1962)
Most Interceptions: 25 (Eddie LeBaron, 1960)
Punting Average: 45.4 (Sam Baker, 1962)
Most Field Goals: 14 (Sam Baker, 1962)

Game

Most Rushing Yards: 137 (Don Perkins, twice)
Most Passing Yards: 460 (Don Meredith, 11/10/1963 vs. San Francisco)
Most Passing TDs: 5 (Eddie LeBaron and Don Meredith)
Receptions: 11 (Billy Howton, 11/26/1961 vs. Philadelphia)
Receiving Yards: 241 (Frank Clarke, 9/16/1962 vs. Washington)
Interceptions: 2 (several)
Field Goals: 4 (Danny Villanueva, 11/24/1966 vs. Cleveland)

50 Seasons Series: Cowboys Come Up 2 Yards Short in ’66 Title Game

The Dallas Cowboys’ playoff agony began on January 1, 1967 when they lost to the Green Bay Packers 34-27. The game is widely remembered for Don Meredith’s ill-fated pass that was picked off by Green Bay’s Tom Brown with just seconds left.

There was, though, much more to this game. Dallas showed the resolve of a champion, even if the Cowboys ran out of time to complete a comeback that could have taken the game into overtime.

Dallas fell behind early when the defense gave up a 76-yard drive capped off by a touchdown pass from Bart Starr to Elijah Pitts. Mel Renfro fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was returned 18 yards by Jim Grabowski for a touchdown.

Green Bay led 14-0 before Dallas had touched the ball. But the Cowboys did not give up, and touchdown runs by Dan Reeves and Don Perkins tied the game at 14 by the end of the first quarter.

Dallas continually had to play catch-up. In the second quarter, Starr hit Carroll Dale on a 51-yard score, giving Green Bay a 21-14 lead. Dallas kicked a field goal before the half, then kicked another to cut the score to 21-20.

Touchdown receptions by Boyd Dowler and Max McGee gave the Packers a 34-20 lead, though, and all appeared lost. But when Bob Lilly blocked an extra point with 5:20 remaining in the game, the Cowboys had some hope.

Dallas cut the lead to seven when Don Meredith hit Frank Clarke on a 68-yard touchdown onĀ  deep post route. The Packers focused much of their attention on Bob Hayes, and when safety Willie Wood hesitated after Hayes faked a fly route, Meredith was able to find Clarke over the middle on the deep throw.

The Dallas defense held on the next possession, and when Don Chandler’s kick went off the side of his foot, the Cowboys had the ball inside Green Bay territory. Dallas went deep to Clarke again, and when an official flagged Tom Brown for pass interference, the Cowboys had the ball on the Packer 1-yard line.

Dallas had four plays to tie the game up, but the team’s luck ran out.

1st Down, GB 1: Dan Reeves ran up the middle for no gain.

2nd Down, GB 1: Tackle Jim Boeke was called for a false start, moving the ball back to the GB 6.

2nd Down, GB 6: Reeves dropped a pass attempt in the flat.

3rd Down, GB 6: Meredith hit Pettis Norman, who was knocked out of bounds at the 2. The shot at the top of this post shows Norman landing out of bounds after making the catch.

4th Down, GB 2: Green Bay LB Dave Robinson rushed Don Meredith, forcing the Dallas QB to throw a desperation pass into the end zone. Tom Brown picked off the pass, ending the Dallas season.

For more on this game, check out:

Green Bay Rolls High (Sports Illustrated, Jan. 9, 1966)

Before the Ice Bowl (Cold, Hard Football Facts, Sept. 21, 2008)

Best Cowboy Year 2 Yards Too Short (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 2, 1966)

Box Score (Pro-Football-Reference)

50 Seasons Series: 1966 NFL Championship Game [Retro] Preview

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

After winning the Eastern Conference in 1966, the Cowboys were set to take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game on January 1, 1967. The Packers had already won three NFL titles during the 1960s, including the championship in 1965. The Cowboys’ only postseason experience was the 1965 Playoff Bowl.

The key to the Dallas offense was Bob Hayes, who set a franchise record with 1,232 receiving yards on 64 receptions. He hauled in 13 touchdown passes as well. Running back Dan Reeves complemented Hayes out of the backfield. Reeves scored a total of 16 touchdowns, including eight rushing and eight receiving.

Don Meredith had his best season as a pro in 1966, throwing for 2,805 yards with 24 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. However, he was injured late in the year. There was some concern going into the title game about his availability.

The illustration above appeared in Sports Illustrated on December 19, 1966. The caption read:

[Left] Dallas gains if Bob Hayes can win hare-hound races with Packer Corner Back Herb Adderley.

[Right] Computer-precise Bart Starr leads all passers, rarely errs. Cowboys Don Meredith likes to rocket bombs but is sometimes burned.

The Dallas Morning News did not offer a specific prediction but noted that the Dallas attack must be perfect if the Cowboys had any chance to beat Green Bay.

The Dallas defense made great strides in 1966 and finished the season ranked second in total defense. According to SI:

The championship game may well boil down to how successfully Bart Starr can discover exploitable seams in the Dallas pass defense. Cornell Green, who has developed from a college basketball player into the best corner back in the Eastern Division, will have to handle Boyd Dowler, Warren Livingston must stop Bob Long or Max McGee, and Mike Gaechter will be giving away a good deal of height and weight to Marv Fleming, the massive Green Bay tight end. In Mel Renfro the Cowboys have a free safety to match Willie Wood.

The other part of the SI illustration appears below:

2009-03-16_220317.gifThe caption:

[Left] Kangaroo bounds of Corner Back Cornell Green may not be enough to thwart Packers’ giraffe-tall end, Boyd Dowler, money man in the clutch.

[Right] Lionlike Cowboy Tackle Bob Lilly might have trouble with bulldog Guard Fuzzy Thurston.

Weathermen predicted rain for the game, which began at 3 p.m. on January 1. For those who could not or did not purchase tickets, the game was blackened out in the 75-mile radius surrounding the City of Dallas. The Irving Jaycees threatened to seek an injunction prohibiting the league from blacking the game out, but to no avail. To watch the game live on television, fans had to purchase tickets to a close circuit television showing at the old Dallas Memorial Auditorium (now the Dallas Convention Center). Price of a ticket to watch the game on television: $8. That would be just over $50 in today’s dollars.

The game was broadcast live on KRLD in Dallas. The television broadcast was shown via delayed telecast at 4 p.m. on Monday, January 2. The delayed broadcast was shown instead of the Merv Griffin Show.