Trivia and Stats
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Tony Romo will probably leave the Dallas Cowboys this off-season. His career seemed to have so much promise, and thanks to individual accomplishments, he will likely wind up in the Ring of Honor.
But there is this matter of two playoff wins in a decade as a starter. Many will remember the dropped snap against Seattle. Or the failed pass at the end of the game against the Giants in 2007. Or the playoff losses at Minnesota and Green Bay in 2009 and 2014. Or interceptions that often overshadowed his otherwise great achievements.
Is he the most unappreciated Dallas Cowboys quarterback in team history? This list ranks quarterbacks falling in that category (meaning those not named Meredith, Staubach, Aikman, or Prescott).
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Cowboys have gone 14-9 during divisional round playoff games. The team’s first loss in the division round occurred in 1976.
The team’s first loss in the division round occurred in 1976. The 11-3 Cowboys hosted the 10-3-1 Rams at Texas Stadium.
Dallas had a 10-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Rams regained the lead and held on for a 14-12 win. The lack of a running game prompted the Cowboys to trade for a draft pick that allowed them to select Tony Dorsett.
One Dallas player during that 1976 playoff loss recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Who was it?
The picture below is not from the game in question but provides the answer.
Sort of lost in all the other stories this season is the fact that the Cowboys have had three different running backs rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
(Hat tip to Robert Stiltner, who asked me on Facebook why nobody has mentioned this. I did the research based on his comment.)
The Cowboys are the third team in NFL history to accomplish the feat. The other two instances each happened since 2003.
Denver Broncos (2003-2006)
The Broncos under Mike Shanahan became famous for finding a seemingly endless number of running backs. Between 2003 and 2006, a different Denver running back rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
2003 – Clinton Portis: 290 attempts, 1,591 yards
2004 – Reuben Droughns: 275 attempts, 1,240 yards
2005 – Mike Anderson: 239 attempts, 1,014 yards
2006 – Tatum Bell: 233 attempts, 1,025 yards
New York Giants (2006-2008)
The Giants kept trying to develop its “thunder and lightning” attack with various running backs during the mid-2000s. They became the second franchise to have three different backs with at least 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Moreover, during the third of those three seasons, the Giants had two 1,000-yard backs.
2006 – Tiki Barber: 327 attempts, 1,662 yards
2007 – Brandon Jacobs: 202 attempts, 1,009 yards
2008 – Derrick Ward: 182 attempts, 1,025 yards; Brandon Jacobs: 219 attempts, 1,089 yards
Dallas Cowboys (2014-2016)
The Cowboys have featured what is probably the best offensive line in football during the past few years, so it is no coincidence that the team has had three 1,000-yard backs.
2014 – DeMarco Murray: 392 attempts, 1,845 yards
2015 – Darren McFadden: 239 attempts, 1,089 yards
2016 – Ezekiel Elliott: 310 attempts, 1,551 yards (through 14 games)
Some other teams have come close to appearing on this list. Quite a number have had different backs rush for more than 1,000 yards in (for example) three of four or five seasons.
Atlanta nearly made this list thanks to quarterback Michael Vick. Warrick Dunn rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and Vick added 1,039 rushing yards of his own in 2006. The Falcons did not have a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006, but Michael Turner gained 1,699 yards in 2008.
The Colts were another team that barely missed this list. Below are the Indianapolis rushing leaders from 1998 to 2001:
1998 – Marshall Faulk: 324 attempts, 1,319 yards
1999 – Edgerrin James: 369 attempts, 1,553 yards
2000 – Edgerrin James: 387 attempts, 1,709 yards
2001 – Dominic Rhodes: 233 attempts, 1,104 yards
The Colts did not have a 1,000-yard rusher in 2003, but a back rushed for at least 1,000 yards every year from 2003 to 2007 (James from 2003-2005; Joseph Addai in 2006-2007).
The following quiz asks ten questions about Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks.
One surprise was the selection of Efren Herrera’s 1977 season as the greatest ever. I call this a surprise because Herrera only hit 62.1% of his field goals that season (and missed two extra points), and he was gone one year later. (I would have picked Rafael Septien’s 1981 season.) Nevertheless, Herrera was an all-pro selection in 1977, so it was not as if he didn’t deserve consideration.
Now for some trivia: why did the Cowboys trade Herrera to Seattle?
The short answer is that Herrera was demanding too much money. In fact, he wanted to double his salary from 1976.
Double means going from about $40,000 per year to about $80,000 per year. In 2016 dollars, that would be like Herrera asking for a raise from $159,000 to $318,000. Of course, the current minimum veteran salary for a fourth-year pro (which Herrera was in 1978) is $760,000.
Salary of current kicker Dan Bailey in 2016? $3.3 million, including his prorated signing bonus.
Dallas traded Herrera to Seattle on August 14, 1978, in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. He played for Seattle for four years and became somewhat famous for his involvement with trick plays. In fact, he caught two passes for a total of 29 yards.
He played part of one season in Buffalo. He was signed by a couple of USFL teams but did not play in that league.
After the trade with Seattle in 1978, Dallas was left with unheralded Jay Sherrill and Skip Butler at kicker. Fortunately, the Cowboys were able to sign Septien as a free agent about two weeks after trading Herrera.
The late Pete Gent is well-known for his book, North Dallas Forty. He played for the Cowboys for five seasons between 1964 and 1968.
Although he was never a full-time starter, he had a pretty good season in 1966. He started ten games that season and caught 27 passes for 474 yards and a touchdown. Dallas had its first winning season that year, finishing 10-3-1 before losing to Green Bay in the NFL Championship Game.
Because the Cowboys did so well that year, several publications featured the team. One publication quoted Gent, who was often very quotable.
Below is a quote. Can you fill in the blank?
“What I lack in speed, I make up for in _____________________.”
Here’s a bonus quote trivia item.
The same publication also featured some quotes from placekicker Danny Villanueva.
Calling Villanueva “invaluable” (with a FG% of 54.8% that season!), the publication notes the following:
“[Villanueva] makes a grand showing of avoiding tackling at all costs on the grounds that he is a “______________ _____________.”
Here is an animated GIF showing a play from Super Bowl XIII. Trivia questions follows:
(1) Hollywood Henderson is the player who took Terry Bradshaw to the ground after the fumble. What did Henderson famously say about Bradshaw’s intelligence before the game?
(2) Which player returned the fumble for a touchdown?
(3) True or false? This play is the only defensive touchdown the Cowboys scored in eight Super Bowl appearances.
(4) Bradshaw fumbled twice against the Cowboys in SB XIII. Which Dallas player recovered the first fumble?
(5) Another linebacker recorded an interception against the Steelers in SB XIII. Who was that player?
In January 1964, many Dallas Cowboys fans apparently wanted to see the team develop new uniforms. A column by Dallas Morning News writer Sam Blair referred to a letter allegedly written by a group known as GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS, which complained about the “generous assortment of stars on the helmets and jerseys” and said that fans unhappy with the team’s original garb believed that “no first-rate team wears second-rate uniforms.”
So, the difficult trivia question: In Blair’s column, to what does GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS refer?
Before I provide the answer, here is the team’s original uniform, worn between 1960 and 1963:
I would also comment on two quotes.
“I’m a lot more concerned about the players we put in those uniforms. I’ve never seen a good-looking uniform win a game.”
“We want an emblem on our helmets, which some guy in Minneapolis will quickly identify with the Dallas Cowboys. We believe the boot and spur will do this, but the star didn’t. Evidently most people around the country didn’t associate the star with Texas, the Lone Star State.”
— Tex Schramm
Thankfully, the Cowboys did not discard the star on the helmet for the boot and spur. The Cowboys did, of course, add silver as a major color, and the team started wearing white jerseys at home.
As for the meaning of GNDLFBSTHCPDCSS, it was actually in a few DMN articles—Greater North Texas Loyal Fans, Boosters, and Season Ticket Holders Committee for Providing the Dallas Cowboys with Sartorial Splendor.
The Dallas Cowboys have the fourth pick in the NFL draft, as everyone knows, and a number of fans want to see the Cowboys take a quarterback who will eventually replace Tony Romo.
Jerry Jones’ take? Romo will last another four or five years. He will be 36 at the beginning of next season.
Summarizing how franchise quarterbacks in team history fared past the age of 36 is pretty easy. Few of them have made it that long.
Don Meredith was 30 during his last season. Troy Aikman was 34. That eliminates two of them.
Of the others, Roger Staubach had the best performances after turning 36. In 1978 at the age of 36, he led the league in passer rating during the first season in which teams played 16 games instead of 14 games. One year later at the age of 37, in what turned out to be his final season, Staubach set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Danny White is the only other franchise QB to play until the age of 36, but his final season was one to forget. He played in only three games.
The last time before 2015 that Romo missed significant time was 2010. He followed that with four mostly complete seasons.
Below is an animated GIF showing a touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Tony Hill. Some trivia questions about this play appear below the image.
(1) During what year did this play occur?
A few additional facts may help: the play covered 30 yards, and one of the defenders was Gary Jeter (#70), a first-round pick of the Giants.
(2) Staubach threw a total of 153 touchdown passes. Which two players caught the most from Staubach?
(3) Hill caught Staubach’s final regular-season touchdown pass. Which player caught the first?
(4) While we’re at it, which player caught Staubach’s last touchdown pass in the 1979 playoff loss to the L.A. Rams?
(5) True or false? Staubach threw more touchdown passes against the Giants than any other team.
Some other notes…
- This game took place during a 12-game winning streak the Cowboys recorded against the Giants in the 1970s. Dallas lost the Giants on September 29, 1974, but won the second matchup in October. The Cowboys would not lose again to the Giants until 1980, when Dallas lost by a Joe Delano field goal at Giants Stadium.
- Harry Carson (#53) appears in the GIF above. He was a member of the Giants during eight of those losses to the Cowboys.
- Hill caught his first NFL touchdown from Staubach in 1978 against the Rams. He caught his final touchdown pass from Danny White in 1986 against the Cardinals. The only other players to throw a touchdown pass to Hill were Gary Hogeboom and receiver Drew Pearson.