Dallas Cowboys History

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Then (1983) and Now (2015): Cowboys vs. Saints

saintsFor the second consecutive year, the Cowboys will face the New Orleans Saints during the fourth week of the season. Last year, the Cowboys stunned many by routing the Saints in a 38-17 win.

The teams met during the fourth week of a season only once before. That game took place in 1983.


 

Then (1983): The head coach of the Saints was Bum Phillips, who never quite got the team over the hump. The team’s defensive coordinator was Bum’s son, Wade Phillips, who later became defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles and other teams. Wade eventually became the head coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Now (2015): Wade Phillips once coached under Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia. Ryan’s son, Rob, later became defensive coordinator for the Cowboys before being fired. Rob is now the defensive coordinator for the Saints.


Then: The Cowboys began the 1983 season with a come-from-behind win over their division rivals, the Washington Redskins.

Now: The Cowboys began the 2015 season with a come-from-behind win over their division rivals, the New York Giants.


Then: Dallas began the season with a 7-0 record, and many thought the team was strong enough to make a run to the Super Bowl. It marked the last time that a Tom Landry team would be considered a Super Bowl contender.

Now: Many predicted that the Cowboys could make the Super Bowl, marking the first time that a Jason Garrett team has been considered a Super Bowl contender.


Then: The Saints were led by 38-year-old quarterback Ken Stabler, who had led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl championship in 1976.

Now: The Saints are led by 36-year-old Drew Brees, who led New Orleans to a Super Bowl championship in 2009.


* * *

The 1983 game was a wild one. Dallas led 13-10 at halftime but fell behind 20-13 in the fourth quarter.

The Saints lined up for a field goal to extend their lead, but Dallas blocked the kick, and Ron Fellows returned the ball 63 yards for a touchdown.

New Orleans, however, blocked Rafael Septien’s extra point attempt, meaning the Saints still had the lead.

Later in the quarter, Dallas drove the ball into New Orleans territory. The Cowboys only needed a field goal, but Danny White threw an interception in the end zone.

Instead of falling the ball, linebacker Dirt Winston ran the ball out to the 6. Just over two minute remained, so it looked as if Dallas needed to make a stop and then drive to kick a game-winning field goal.

The Saints inexplicably called a play-action pass, and Dallas linebacker Anthony Dickerson sacked Stabler in the end zone for a safety. The two points were enough to give Dallas a 21-20 win.

Here is a video of the second half of the 1983 game.

Then and Now: Cowboys vs. Falcons, 1986 vs. 2015

The Cowboys lost a shootout to the Atlanta Falcons in week 3 of the 1986 season.

The Cowboys lost a shootout to the Atlanta Falcons in week 3 of the 1986 season.

The Cowboys have faced the Atlanta Falcons during week 3 of a season only once before. That game took place in 1986 at Texas Stadium.

This is the second time this year a Then and Now feature has focused on the 1986 season. The previous entry addressed the season-opener against the New York Giants.

Here is a look the matchup in 1986 (then) compared with Sunday’s game against the Falcons (now).

Then (1986): The Cowboys faced the Falcons nine times between 1966 and 1985. Dallas won eight of those games, including two playoff victories.

Now (2015): The Cowboys last played the Falcons in 2012, losing 19-13. Dallas has played Atlanta five times since 2001 and has lost three of those games. The last Dallas win came in 2009.


 

Then: Atlanta’s starting quarterback was David Archer. He played college football at Snow College in Utah and was not drafted in 1984. He started 23 games with the Falcons between 1985 and 1987.

Now: Dallas would have started its own undrafted quarterback, Tony Romo, but Romo suffered a broken clavicle against the Eagles last week. Instead, the Cowboys will start Brandon Weeden, who has started 21 games during his career with Cleveland and Dallas.


Then: The Falcons’ starting running back was Gerald Riggs. One year earlier, Riggs carried the ball 397 times and gained 1,719 yards. He was still effective in 1986, finishing the season with 1,327 yards. However, he had trouble staying healthy and never reached the 1,000-yard mark again after turning 27.

Now: The Cowboys had their own workhorse in 2014. DeMarco Murray carried the ball 392 times that season and rushed for a franchise-record 1,845 yards. However, running backs in the past, including Riggs, have usually struggled after touching the ball so many times in one season, and the Cowboys led Murray leave via free agency. In two games with the Eagles in 2015, Murray has gained only 11 yards in 21 carries.


 

Then: Atlanta had not made the playoffs since 1982 and had suffered through a 4-12 season in 1985.  Things looked good in 1986 as the team started at 4-0. However, the Falcons lost five straight in the middle of the season and finished at 7-8-1.

Now: Atlanta was one of the better teams in the league between 2010 and 2012. However, the teams suffered through a 4-12 season in 2013 and a 6-10 season in 2014. Hopes are higher now, as Atlanta won its first two games.


 

Then: The Cowboys won their first two games before losing to the Falcons. Dallas eventually improved its record to 6-2, but an injury to Danny White in week 9 caused a downward spiral. The Cowboys finished with a 7-9 record.

Now: The Cowboys have won their first two games but have lost both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for the next several weeks. Whether the Cowboys can avoid a downward spiral will determine whether the Cowboys can reach the playoffs again.

Then (1971) and Now (2015): Cowboys vs. Eagles in Week 2

The Cowboys have faced the Philadelphia Eagles on the road during week 2 on two previous occasions. One took place in 1974 in a Monday Night Football game where Dallas lost on a late field goal.

We’ll forget that one.

Philadelphia's Leroy Keyes tackles Mike Ditka in a week 2 game played on September 26, 1971.

Philadelphia’s Leroy Keyes tackles Mike Ditka in a week 2 game played on September 26, 1971.

The other took place three years earlier during the Cowboys’ first Super Bowl championship season. This week’s then-and-now feature focuses on that 1971 game.


 

Then (1971)—The Cowboys had overcome years of frustration by reaching the Super Bowl after the 1970 season. The Cowboys then added even more frustration by losing to the Colts in SB V.

Now (2015)—The Cowboys had overcome years of frustration by reaching the playoffs after the 2014 season. The Cowboys and their fans suffered more frustration, though, when Dallas lost the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.


 

Then—The 1970 Eagles had a miserable 0-7 start and finished with a 3-10-1 record.

Now—The 2014 Eagles appeared to be in a position to repeat as division champions, but three straight losses in December killed the Eagles’ chances.


 

Then—Philadelphia’s third-year head coach Jerry Williams was on the bubble in 1971, given that Philadelphia won only seven games in 1969 and 1970 combined. Williams’ team opened at 0-3 in 1971, and he was fired.

Now—Philadelphia’s third-year head coach Chip Kelly is not on the bubble, but he made some head-scratching roster movies during the 2015 offseason. The Eagles lost their 2015 season-opener to the Atlanta Falcons.


 

Then—The Eagles featured running backs that only the most dedicated trivia buff would remember. Ronnie Bull? Lee Bouggess? Tom Woodeshick?

Now—The Eagles traded their former all-pro back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, but Philadelphia added well-known backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to join Darren Sproles in 2015.


 

Then—The Cowboys opened their season on the road at Buffalo with a 49-37 shootout win. Craig Morton began the season as the starter, but a quarterback controversy developed. By the end of the season, Roger Staubach was the team’s leader.

Now—The Cowboys pulled off an improbable win against the New York Giants. Tony Romo has been the starter since 2006, and no other quarterback on this team will challenge him.


 

Then—Dallas jumped out to a 21-0 lead in a 42-7 win over the Eagles.

Now—Sunday at 3 p.m.

Thursday’s Then-and-Now: Opening the Season vs. N.Y. Giants

How the Giants handled the Cowboys' all-out blitz was a concern in the season opening in 1986.

How the Giants handled the Cowboys’ all-out blitz was a concern in the season opening in 1986.

Sunday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will be the sixth time the teams have faced one another during the opening week of the season. Dallas has a 5-0 record in the previous games.

One of those five games appeared on Monday Night Football on September 8, 1986. Here is a look at that game (then) and the Sunday night game this year (now).

Then

The Cowboys rebounded after missing the playoffs in 1984 to capture the NFC East title. Two wins over the Giants, including a 28-21 win in week 15, were critical, as the Cowboys returned the postseason for the last time under Tom Landry.

Now

The Cowboys broke a string of three straight 8-8 seasons to go 12-4 and capture the NFC East for the first time since 2009. Two wins over the Giants helped the team, as the Cowboys reached the postseason for the first time under Jason Garrett.

Then

Dallas entered the 1986 season with veteran Danny White and unproven backup Steve Pelluer. White had started 14 games in 1985 and led Dallas to a 10-4 record in those games.

White started strong in 1986, as the team jumped out the gate with a 6-2 record. In six games, White threw 12 touchdown passes. However, Carl Banks of the Giants sacked White early in a week 9 game, and White’s wrist broke. Without White, Dallas struggled and finished with the team’s first losing record since 1964.

Now

Tony Romo enters the season more healthy than he was in 2014. He had a strong season in 2014 despite his back problems, throwing for 3705 yards and 34 touchdowns.

An injury to Romo, however, would be as devastating to the Cowboys in 2015 as the injury to White was in 1986. Backup Brandon Weeden has not shown he can produce wins, so the Cowboys need to hope Romo stays on the field.

Then

The Cowboys already had a former Heisman Trophy winner and future Hall-of-Famer at running back in Tony Dorsett. In 1986, the team added a second Heisman winner when Herschel Walker joined the team after a short career in the USFL. Walker eventually replaced Dorsett in the Dallas backfield.

Now

DeMarco Murray rushed for more yards in one season in 2014 than Dorsett, Walker, or Emmitt Smith. However, instead of adding to the backfield in 2015, the Cowboys let Murray walk via free agency. The 2015 team will have committee at the running-back position.

Then

Most of the rest of the 1986 team featured aging stars (Randy White, Too Tall Jones, Tony Hill) and rather mediocre role players. White’s injury marked the beginning of the end, as Dallas won only 11 games between 1987 and 1989.

Now

Dallas freed itself of most of its fading stars, who included the likes of DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, and Miles Austin. The team replaced those players with a young and talented group, including three of the best young offensive linemen in the NFL.

Unlike the 1986 team, the arrow for the 2015 Cowboys is pointing up. But it will take a full season from Tony Romo and good performances from several new players on defense for this team to reach heights the franchise has not reached in two decades.

Thursday’s Then and Now: The Governor’s Cup

A picture from the first Governor's Cup in 1967.

A picture from the first Governor’s Cup in 1967.

The Dallas Cowboys will face the Houston Texans on Thursday night for the Governor’s Cup. This marks the 12th time the Cowboys have faced the Texans for the Cup, with Dallas holding a 6-5 edge in previous games. The Cowboys beat Houston in overtime last year on October 5.

Of course, the Cowboys used to face the Houston Oilers for the Cup, with Dallas winning 18 of 31 games dating back to 1967.

Notwithstanding the nearly complete lack of interest in tonight’s game, here is a comparison of the first Governor’s Cup game and tonight’s matchup.

Then (1967): The Cowboys traveled to Houston to face the Oilers at Rice Stadium. A total of 53,125 came to watch the teams face one another in an interleague exhibition for the first time.

Now: Both the Cowboys and the Texans play in state-of-the-art facilities. Dallas will host tonight’s game at Cowboys Stadium, which has a capacity of about 80,000.

* * *

Then: The game between the Cowboys and Oilers was unofficially dubbed the Texas Championship. The game was not officially played for the Governor’s Cup until 1969.

Now: As noted above, the Cowboys have won the Governor’s Cup 24 times over the years.

For several years, however, the Governor’s Cup had gone missing. The Cowboys’ former vice president, Joe Bailey, told the press that he had given the Governor’s Cup to a Houston equipment manager, who then lost the Cup. It was found in a cardboard box in a Houston office building in 1987.

* * *

Then: The Cowboys beat the Oilers in 1967 thanks to the passing of Don Meredith and Craig Morton.

Now: Dallas will try to avoid its second consecutive winless preseason with Dustin Vaughan and Jameill Showers leading the way.

* * *

Then: Houston QB Don Trull had all sorts of problems with the Dallas pass rush, and the Oilers only managed 54 yards during the first three quarters. Another QB, Jacky Lee, had better luck, leading Houston to two touchdowns. Dallas, however, still managed the win, 30-17.

Pete Beathard ended up staring nine games for Houston in 1967. Lee started three games but could only manage one win. Trull completed just four passes all year.

Now: The Texans have named Brian Hoyer as the starter after he beat out Ryan Mallett for the job. Chances are pretty good that in 48 years, folks won’t remember the names Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett any better than fans remember the names Don Trull and Jacky Lee.

* * *

Then: The 1967 Houston Oilers were a good team, finishing the season at 9-4-1. They lost to Oakland in the AFL Championship Game. Dallas lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1967 Ice Bowl for the NFL Championship.

Of course, this means that the Cowboys and Oilers were one win a piece from having a second Texas Championship/Governor’s Cup that year, only the teams would have faced off at the Miami Orange Bowl in Super Bowl II.

Now: Dallas has not been the Super Bowl since the 1995, but the Cowboys won the NFC East in 2014 with a 12-4 mark. The Texans finished the 2014 season at 9-7 after winning just two games in 2013. Nobody expects a Cowboys-Texans Super Bowl, but stranger things have happened.

Their Final Plays: Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman

This is a series that focuses on the last games and/or (when possible) the last plays of various members of the Cowboys. The final plays for a few of these players, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin, are well known. Others may be more difficult to research, but I will do my best.

Anyone old enough to remember the Cowboys of the late 1990s and early 2000s will remember the last plays of Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman. For that reason, I present them together in this post.

Irvin

Michael Irvin’s skills had eroded by the late 1990s. He was far less effective in 1997 and 1998. In fact, his poor performance against the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 playoffs (four receptions, 32 yards) caused some to wonder if the Cowboys should release the future hall-of-famer, even though he was still a 1,000-yard receiver.

But then Irvin caught two touchdown receptions in a season-opening thriller against Washington, and it appeared that he might be back. He followed that performance with two sub-par games, but Dallas was 3-0 early in the 1999 season, so most did not focus heavily on Irvin’s importance.

And then…

Michael Irvin never played football again after this play.

Michael Irvin never played football again after this play.

Irvin went across the middle against the Eagles on a slant pattern, and Troy Aikman hit Irvin in stride. As he was being tackled, Irvin was hit on the back of the head by an Eagle defender. Irvin did not get up from the play and was carted off the field (as Eagle fans cheered the injury).

The result…

Dallas went 5-8 for the rest of the 1999 season. The team only won 15 games over the three seasons after that. No, it was not all because of Irvin’s injury, but the team lost a key leader, and the Cowboys were not the same team once he was gone.

Aikman

Troy Aikman led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles and was only 34 years old in 2000. He played, however, more like he was 44. He threw only 7 touchdown passes compared with 14 interceptions, and fans routinely booed him and the Cowboys during a terrible season.

He started the week 14 game against Washington.

And then…

 

LaVar Arrington’s hit near the sideline gave Aikman yet another concussion, and Aikman never played another down of football in the NFL again.

Dallas had already declined when Aikman suffered his injury. However, his retirement led to the team’s carousel of quarterbacks. Dallas could not find a franchise quarterback until the emergence of Tony Romo six years after Aikman suffered his injury.

His Final Plays: Chuck Howley

This is a series that focuses on the last games and/or (when possible) the last plays of various members of the Cowboys. The final plays for a few of these players, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin, are well known. Others may be more difficult to research, but I will do my best.

The Dallas Cowboys hosted the Washington Redskins on Saturday, December 9, 1972. Despite pulling out a 34-24 win over the Redskins, Dallas lost one of the franchise’s greatest players. Washington’s Charley Taylor executed a crackback block on Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley. The MVP of Super Bowl V fell to the ground, and it appeared that his career ended right there.

Howley worked hard to come back, and his off-season physical performance seemed to indicate that he could return for the 1973 season. On June 1, 1973, however, the Dallas Morning News reported that Howley had called it quits.

The retirement did not last. By the middle of September, the Cowboys were down to five healthy linebackers, and head coach Tom Landry convinced Howley to rejoin the squad, albeit on the inactive list. According to Landry, the Cowboys only needed Howley for insurance and would only activate him if another linebacker was injured.

Chuck Howley ended his  short retirement in 1973 to help a depleted linebacker squad.  He retired for good after that season.

Chuck Howley ended his short retirement in 1973 to help a depleted linebacker corps. He retired for good after that season.

He did not record a tackle or any other statistic that year. In fact, according to his profile on NFL.com, he was active for only one game—a 45-10 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on September 30.

Howley retired for good after the season. He joined the Ring of Honor in 1977 and has been a finalist to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His Final Plays: Bob Lilly

This is a series that focuses on the last games and/or (when possible) the last plays of various members of the Cowboys. The final plays for a few of these players, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin, are well known. Others may be more difficult to research, but I will do my best.

Michael Irvin’s last play ended with him suffering a spinal injury on the concrete floor of Veterans Stadium Philadelphia. Many of us remember that play, and we can find replays of it easily.

Troy Aikman’s last play ended with him suffering a concussion against Washington in 2000. Many of us remember that play, and we can find replays of it easily.

Bob Lilly’s career ended at some point against the Oakland Raiders on December 14, 1974. I have no idea who would remember that play, and I cannot find any record indicating which play might have been his last.

Bob Lilly (#74) played his last game against the Raiders on December 14, 1974. The team honored him with "Bob Lilly Day" on November 23, 1975.

Bob Lilly (#74) played his last game against the Raiders on December 14, 1974. The team honored him with “Bob Lilly Day,” shown here, on November 23, 1975.

Mr. Cowboy made ten consecutive Pro Bowls between 1964 and 1973. He was named an all-pro seven times. He was a member of the 1960s and 1970s all-decade teams.

The 1974 season, however, was one for Lilly and the rest of the Cowboys to forget.

Although Dallas won its first game against Atlanta, the Cowboys lost four consecutive games to fall to 1-4. Dallas eventually rebounded to improve to 8-5, including the team’s famous win over the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. But the Cowboys finished with an 8-6 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1965 (not counting the Playoff Bowl after the 1965 season).

The Cowboys were out of the playoff race when they traveled to Oakland for the season finale. The game was a special on Monday Night Football, and copies of the game (like many of other MNF games) are readily available.

I just don’t have a copy. And given that I was three years old at the time, I don’t remember the game.

(So, can anyone help me out here?)

Dallas was unable to hang on to an early lead against the Raiders and lost 27-23. We know that Lilly started and played, given that he started and played every game—196 consecutive games—during his 14-year career. Other than that, I have no idea what he did during that game, given that official statistics regarding tackles and sacks did not exist at the time.

Dallas Morning News articles after the game said nothing about Lilly contemplating retirement. Tom Landry left the door open for Lilly to come back and even tried to convince Lilly to return. But then Lilly received medical reports indicating that because of bone spurs in his neck, he risked permanent injury. After that, Landry suggested that Lilly call it a career.

Here is one of Lilly’s comments after he announced his retirement in July 1975:

There was no question that the pain would come back. I was prepared for that. The possibility of permanent damage…I wasn’t prepared for that.

Lilly was 35 years old at the time of his retirement. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1980.

His Final Plays: Mel Renfro

During his 14-year career, Mel Renfro had some great moments. Perhaps his best post-season was 1970, when he recorded an interception in each of the Cowboys’ playoff games, including Super Bowl V.

By 1977, however, Renfro’s career was winding down. He became the team’s nickel corner, so for the only time since he entered the league in 1964, he was not a starter.

He nevertheless had a few good moments in 1977. He intercepted two passes that year, including a pick in a game against Philadelphia where Dallas clinched the NFC East. (I have that game on VHS tape but cannot access it at the moment.) That pick was Renfro’s last, giving him 52 for his career.

Unlike nearly every other legendary Cowboy, Renfro was able to end his career on a high note. He played sparingly in Super Bowl XII, but he was active and even recorded a tackle.

The sequence:

Renfro is at the bottom of the screen. He played right cornerback in the nickel formation.

Renfro is at the bottom of the screen. He played right cornerback in the nickel formation.

Rob Lytle came near Renfro (#20).

Rob Lytle came near Renfro (#20).

Renfro his Lytle and drives him to the ground.

Renfro hits Lytle and drives him to the ground.

One great career, one final tackle for Renfro.

One great career, one final tackle for Renfro.

No, it wasn’t like Ted Williams hitting a home run in his final at-bat, but at least Renfro was still involved as the Cowboys won their second Super Bowl. In today’s game, Renfro probably would have already been a salary-cap casualty.

Renfro’s final play in the NFL was the Broncos’ last offensive play with just over three minutes remaining and the Cowboys leading 27-10.

Denver faced a 4th and 23 from the Dallas 24. Renfro entered the game and played right corner again.

 

Hard to tell, but Renfro is at the top of the screen playing right corner.

Hard to tell, but Renfro is at the top of the screen playing right corner.

Denver's Norris Weese had attempted a pass to Rick Upchurch near the Dallas 5. Renfro was near the ball and appears here on the right side of the picture. This was Renfro's last NFL play.

Denver’s Norris Weese had attempted a pass to Rick Upchurch near the Dallas 5. Renfro was near the ball and appears here on the right side of the picture. This was Renfro’s last NFL play.

Three game minutes later, and the Cowboys were celebrating their Super Bowl win. Renfro retired after that season. He became a member of the Ring of Honor in 1981, and he became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Final Career InterceptionCame against Philadelphia on December 4, 1977. He returned the pick 25 yards.

Final Career TackleRenfro tackled Rob Lytle near the end of the first half in Super Bowl XII.

Final Career Play: He played nickel corner on the Denver Broncos’ final offensive play in Super Bowl XII.

His Last Plays: Cliff Harris

This is a series that focuses on the last games and/or (when possible) the last plays of various members of the Cowboys. The final plays for a few of these players, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin, are well known. Others may be more difficult to research, but I will do my best.

Cliff Harris is one of several Cowboys who should have a place in Canton, Ohio.

Six Pro Bowls. Named first-team All Pro three times. First-team member of the All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

In fact, Harris is one of only two players named to the first team of the 1970s All-Decade Team who has not been named to the Hall of Fame. The other is former Cowboy Drew Pearson.

Anyway, Harris retired at the age of 31 after the 1979 season so that he could focus on his business interests. That means that his final plays occurred during the same games as Roger Staubach.

In the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Rams on December 30, 1979, Harris did record a key interception. With Dallas trailing 14-12 late in the third quarter, the Rams had the ball on the Dallas 43. Vince Ferragamo threw a pass over the middle, but Harris picked it off and returned the pick 22 yards. The play set up a Dallas touchdown drive that gave the Cowboys the lead.

Here’s the sequence:

Vince Ferragamo looks downfield.

Vince Ferragamo looks downfield.

Cliff Harris is in the right place and picks off the pass.

Cliff Harris is in the right place and picks off the pass.

Harris races 22 yards to give Dallas great field position.

Harris races 22 yards to give Dallas great field position.

Unfortunately, that was one of the last career highlights for Captain Crash.

The Rams regained the lead with less than two minutes remaining, and the Cowboys offense failed. The defense needed to pull off a miracle to give Dallas any sort of a chance.

The Rams ran the clock down and lined up for a field goal with 13 seconds left. But instead of attempting the kick to increase the lead to 5, L.A.’s Nolan Cromwell, the holder, went for a fake. Harris was the contain man on the play but missed the tackle, and Cromwell gained seven yards to give the Rams the first down.

The play—

The Rams lined up for the field-goal attempt with 13 seconds left.

The Rams lined up for the field-goal attempt with 13 seconds left. Harris appears furthest to the right.

Nolan Cromwell keeps the ball and runs around right end. Harris has contain.

Nolan Cromwell keeps the ball and runs around right end. Harris has contain.

Unfortunately, Harris missed the tackle, and Cromwell made the first down. Game over.

Unfortunately, Harris missed the tackle, and Cromwell made the first down. Game over.

The Rams lined up in Victory Formation with six seconds left, so it appears that Harris’s final play for the Cowboys was at safety when the Rams ran the clock out.

Harris’s final game was, like Staubach’s, the 1980 Pro Bowl. And Harris had a better game than Staubach.

According to my reading of the Gamebook, Harris recorded three tackles for the NFC and recovered a Franco Harris fumble. His final tackle occurred in the third quarter when he stopped Stanley Morgan after a 20-yard pass from Dan Fouts.

So here are Harris’s final plays:

Final Interception as a Cowboy: Picked off Vince Ferragamo in the third quarter of the Cowboys’ 21-19 loss to the L.A. Rams on December 30, 1979.

Final Plays as a CowboyMissed a tackle on a fake field goal run, then played safety when the Rams knelt on the ball with six seconds remaining, in 21-19 loss to L.A. Rams on December 30, 1979.

Final Tackle as a Professional: Credited with tackling Stanley Morgan in the third quarter of the Pro Bowl on January 27, 1980.