Trivia and Stats
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The Dallas Cowboys have had their share of Pro Bowl tight ends, including Jason Witten (as a replacement) this year. Previous Pro Bowl selections included the likes of Billy Joe Dupree, Doug Cosbie, and Jay Novacek.
In fact, the club’s first Pro Bowl selection ever was tight end Jim Doran, who caught 31 passes for 554 yards in the Cowboys’ inaugural season of 1960.
One year later, Doran’s production sank, but another tight end played well enough to earn a Pro Bowl berth. Who was that player?
The puzzle below will tell you.
The 2013 marks just the fourth time in franchise history that the Cowboys have begun a season at 7-7. The three previous seasons were 1965, 1986, and 1999.
None of those seasons was memorable. However, each was noteworthy in the context of franchise history, as may the 2013 season. Below are some comparisons.
What happened in 1965? Dallas had suffered through five straight losing seasons and began the 1965 season with a 4-7 record. The worst loss was a 34-31 defeat to the Washington Redskins in a game where the Cowboys led 24-6 in the third quarter and 31-20 in the fourth quarter. However, Dallas did not lose another game during the regular season and finished with a non-losing record for the first time in franchise history.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys became contenders one year later, going 10-3-1 and facing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game. Dallas would not suffer through a losing season for another 20 years.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1965 Cowboys? The 1965 squad featured a strong core of younger players reaching their prime. This group included Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, and so forth. The 2013 squad has young talent as well in the form of Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, and so forth. The team suffered through bad losses similar to the defeat to the Redskins in 1965, but the current Cowboys usually display resiliency.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1965 Cowboys? By 1965, Gil Brandt had begun to set himself apart among other head scouts. The 1964 draft for the Cowboys was one of the very best in franchise history, and the direct result was the team’s immediate improvement. In contrast, the Cowboys have had some mediocre-to-poor drafts during the past several seasons. Lee and Bruce Carter are frequently injured, and Bryant has not shown much leadership. Moreover, Jason Garrett has not proven he can manage a game effectively as a head coach, which is something Tom Landry started to prove after 1965. Hard to believe this current team would have 20 straight winning seasons.
The Cowboys technically made their first playoff appearance after the 1965 season, facing the Baltimore Colts in the Playoff Bowl. This game featured the second-place teams from each conference and was known as the Loser Bowl. Dallas lost 35-3.
What happened in 1986? The Cowboys began the 1986 season with a 6-2 record and looked like a playoff team. Then Danny White broke his wrist in a game against the Giants, and the Cowboys could only manage one win over their last eight games. The 7-9 record marked the first losing season for the franchise since 1964.
What happened in the seasons that followed? Two years later, the Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL. Tom Landry was fired in 1989 after the team posted a 3-13 record and Jerry Jones bought the team from Bum Bright.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1986 Cowboys? The 1986 Cowboys had star power in the form of Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Randy White, Danny White, and some other recognizable names. However, the team had drafted poorly for most of the 1980s, and the team simply had no depth at most positions. The current team has likewise suffered from poor drafting. Though the Cowboys have star players, they also lack depth in most key positions. The Cowboys do not have enough talent across the board to suffer losses at key positions. The injuries this year have contributed heavily to the team having the worst defense in franchise history.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1986 Cowboys? The Cowboys have more young talent than the 1986 team had. The Cowboys lost receiver Mike Sherrard to serious injuries in 1987 and 1988, and the team had to start over again at the receiver spot. The lone star by 1988 was Walker. The current team has Bryant and Murray along with some other talented skills players. Moreover, the current team operates during the free-agent era, whereas the league did not have Plan B free agency until 1989. The Cowboys could find free agent talent to replace aging or injured stars faster than the team of the late 1980s could.
My opinion: the best thing to happen to Jerry Jones would be the worst thing to happen to Cowboys’ fans, and that would be a disastrous season (like the 3-13 season of 1988). Why? Because Jerry would have little choice but to accept that the way he has operated the franchise is not going to lead to another Super Bowl appearance in the foreseeable future.
What happened in 1999? The Cowboys jumped out of the gate with a 3-0 start. However, once the Cowboys lost Michael Irvin to a career-ending neck injury, the team struggled. Dallas led in every game of the season but could only manage an 8-8 finish. The team luckily made it into the playoffs but lost to Minnesota in a forgettable game.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys suffered through salary-cap hell along with some bad personnel decisions. Head coach Dave Campo saw his team record three consecutive 5-11 seasons between 2000 and 2002.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1999 Cowboys? The current team has suffered from being in salary-cap hell and bad personnel decisions. Even dedicated fans would have a difficult time naming the guys playing defense in 2013, and the Cowboys will have limited ability to address weaknesses on defense because of more cap problems in 2014. Falling from 8-8 to 5-11 is not hard to imagine.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1999 Cowboys? In 1999, Jerry was still hanging on to the idea that the franchise could return to glory with just a few missing pieces, such as a good second receiver or a good defensive end. The cornerstones of the dynasty, though, had little left in the tank, and once they were gone, the team had to start over again. The current squad is not in such a dire position. Tony Romo is playing better now than Troy Aikman was in 1999 and 2000. The team might lose DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, along with some others, over the next couple of years, but it does not appear the team will face such a precipitous drop in talent that the team experienced in 2000 and 2001.
The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1966 NFL Championship Game by a final score of 34-27. The Cowboys were in position to tie the game at 34 near the end of regulation.
Facing a 4th-and-goal from the Green Bay 2, Don Meredith tried to complete a touchdown pass on a rollout play, but the Packers’ Dave Robinson got to Meredith before the Dallas QB could find an open man. Meredith was able to get a pass off in Bob Hayes’ general direction, but Tom Brown intercepted the pass to secure the Green Bay win.
The Cowboys originally had the ball at the 2 on their final drive because of a pass interference call. The team lost 5 yards because of a false-start penalty, setting up a 3rd-and-goal from the 6. The Cowboys moved back to the 2 on the third-down play.
Trivia question, answered in the puzzle below: who caught the pass on third down to set up the 4th-and-goal play from the 2?
The 1984 season did not turn out to be one to remember for the Dallas Cowboys. The team finished at 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974.
Even for those who watched the team then, it’s easy to forget that the Cowboys began the year with a 4-1 record. With Gary Hogeboom leading the way, Dallas beat the Rams, Eagles, and Packers in the first four weeks of the season and had only lost to the Giants.
In week 5, Dallas traveled to Soldier Field to face the Bears. It was the first trip to Chicago for Dallas since 1973.
This game took place one year before the Bears became dominant. The teams played in 44-degree weather in late September.
The play I happen to remember from that game was a screen pass from Hogeboom to Tony Dorsett. The Cowboys set up the play perfectly, and Dorsett still had the speed that made him a legend.
Here is the play:
The Cowboys won the game 23-14 to improve to 4-1. However, the Hogeboom era did not last long. Dallas lost two straight to the Cardinals and Redskins. Tom Landry soon turned to Danny White again, but though the team finished with winning record, the Cowboys missed the playoffs.
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The Cowboys have a 4-4 record overall at Soldier Field, including a win in the playoffs against the Bears in 1991.
During the 1960s, Dallas traveled to Chicago three times to face the Bears at Wrigley Field, and Dallas won two of those games.
The Cowboys lost their first game at Soldier Field in 1971 in an infamous game where Landry alternated between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton throughout the game.
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The last time Dallas visited Chicago was 2007. The teams were tied at 3 at halftime, but the Cowboys pulled away in the second half to win, 34-10.
The Dallas Cowboys will almost certainly give up more yards in a season than any other team in franchise history. The Cowboys have allowed 5,059 yards in 12 games, which is just 569 yards behind the 16-game record set by the 2010 Cowboys’ defense.
How bad is this number? The 1960 Dallas Cowboys went 0-11-1 but only gave up 4,372 yards in 12 games. Yes, it was a very different era, but this defense is just utterly bad.
On the other hand, the Cowboys are not on pace to break the NFL record for most yards allowed in a season. The 2012 New Orleans Saints set the record by allowing 7,042 yards in 16 games, for an average of 440.1 yards per game.
The current Cowboys have allowed an average of 421.6 yards per game and are on pace to finish the season allowing a total of 6,728 yards. It’s certainly possible the Cowboys could allow opponents to gain more than 500 yards again this year, but the team would have to allow 495.75 yards per game to set a new mark.
Not likely, so we have that going for us.
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Tony Romo has thrown every pass attempted by the Cowboys this year. If Romo continues to do so for the final four games, it will mark the second time during the Romo Era that this has happened. The other time was 2009, which was also the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs.
Romo is on pace to throw for 4,176 yards, which would mark the fifth time during Romo’s career he would throw for more than 4,000 yards.
He is also on pace to throw 32 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. It would be his best TD-to-Interception ratio in his career, topping 31 TDs and 10 Ints. set in 2011.
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Dez Bryant needs 104 yards to reach 1,000 for the second year in a row. No other player is on pace to gain 1,000 rushing or receiving yards. However, DeMarco Murray can reach 1,000 rushing yards by averaging 75.8 yards per game during the last four games. He has averaged 79.3 yards per game during the last three games.
Dan Bailey has been the Dallas kicker for less than three full seasons, but he has already hit more game-winning field goals (8) than Rafael Septien (7) did in nine seasons.
(Of course, the Cowboys were more often in the lead when Septien was kicker, but that’s a different point.) The list below summarizes Bailey’s game winners. Four of the kicks came in overtime.
September 18, 2011
Dallas 27, San Francisco 24 (OT) Bailey hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime, then hit a 19 yarder to win the game.
September 26, 2011
Dallas 18, Washington 16 Bailey scored the final 9 points in the game. His 40-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining won the game for Dallas.
November 20, 2011
Dallas 27, Washington 24 (OT) After Graham Gano missed a 52-yard attempt in overtime, Bailey hit a 39 yarder to give Dallas the win.
November 24, 2011
Dallas 20, Miami 19 Bailey hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Dallas the one-point win.
November 18, 2012
Dallas 23, Cleveland 20 (OT) Bailey hit three field goals in the game, including a 32 yarder to tie the game at the end of regulation. He nailed a 38-yard attempt in overtime to give Dallas the win.
December 9, 2012
Dallas 20, Cincinnati 19 Rival Josh Brown hit four field goals in the game, but Bailey’s 40 yarder as time expired gave the Cowboys a one-point win.
December 16, 2012
Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT) The Cowboys intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in overtime, setting up Bailey’s 21-yard field goal, which gave Dallas the win.
November 24, 2013
Dallas 24, N.Y. Giants 21 The Giants erased a 21-6 Dallas lead in the second half, but the Cowboys drove the length of the field to set up Bailey’s 35-yard game winner.
The Dallas Cowboys are setting all sorts of dubious records on defense and could very well break the single-season record for most yards allowed, set last year by those Saints.
Last night while playing bad ball (oh, thanks for clearing that up, Monte Kiffen), the Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to allow 40 first downs. The New York Jets had the previous high mark of 39, set against the Miami Dolphins in 1988.
For the Cowboys, it marked the eighth time in franchise history that the Cowboys had allowed 30 or more first downs to an opponent. As one would expect, the results in those games has not been favorable, as the Cowboys’ record is 1-7 when allowing 30 or more first downs.
This happened four times during the team’s first 51 years in existence. Since 2011, it has happened another four times, including twice in 2013.
Hence, the “Can’t Stop Anyone” defense.
Year – Opp. First Downs – Opponent – Result
2013 – 40 – New Orleans – L 17-49
2013 – 34 – Denver – L 48-51
2012 – 33 – New Orleans – L 31-34 (OT)
2011 – 31 – Philadelphia – L 7-34
1996 – 32 – Washington – L 10-37
1995 – 32 – Oakland – W 34-21
1991 – 33 – Houston – L 23-26 (OT)
1983 – 31 – L.A. Raiders – L 38-40
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The Cowboys have recorded 30 or more first downs in several games. The most came during a 26-21 loss to the Detroit Lions in 1985, when the Cowboys had 33 first downs. Dallas turned the ball over 5 times, contributing heavily to the loss.
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The Cowboys only managed 9 first downs against the Saints. It marked the fewest first downs since the team had only 7 in a 27-6 loss to Washington to end the 2007 season.
The Dallas Cowboys abandoned the run on Sunday like they never have before.
During the time that Tom Landry coached the Cowboys, the team never had fewer than 16 rushing attempts in a single game. Between 1960 and 1988, the Cowboys played 64 games in which they ran the ball 25 or fewer times. The team’s record in those games was 11-53.
Since 1989, the Cowboys have played 24 games in which they rushed 15 or fewer times in a game. Until Sunday, the team had a combined record of 0-23 in those games. Thanks to Sunday’s game, the team’s record in those games is 1-23.
The team’s previous low in rushing attempts was 10, set in 1989 in a 28-0 loss to New Orleans and again in 2011 in a 34-7 loss to Philadelphia.
Dallas became the second team in 2013 to have only 9 rushing attempts. The other team was Baltimore, which ran the ball 9 times for 24 yards in a 23-20 loss at Buffalo. Teams that have ran the ball 15 or fewer times have a combined record of 4-16. The Cowboys’ previous low this year was 14 attempt in the 51-48 loss to Denver.
Here is a chart showing games in which Dallas has ran the ball 15 or fewer times:
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The Cowboys had only 36 rushing yards on Sunday. That number did not set a franchise low, however.
Dallas has rushed for 36 or fewer yards in 15 games. The team’s combined record in those games is 2-13.
The previous win game in 1987, when Dallas ran the ball 24 times for 26 yards in a 33-24 win over the New York Giants. Tony Dorsett had one of the worst games of his career, gaining just 3 yards on 14 carries. He lost his starting job two weeks later.
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If Jerry was going for the creepy-old-man look, he nailed it next to Selena Gomez, who will perform at halftime on Thanksgiving.
A trivia question I could not answer: name one song that Selena Gomez sings.
Of course, my daughter might watch football on Thanksgiving this year. Thanks, Jerry!
The 1994 season was the NFL’s 75th anniversary, and teams that season wore throwback uniforms to commemorate.
Several teams made some changes to the actual jerseys from the past. For example, the Buffalo Bills retained their red helmets even though they changed the rest of their uniforms. The idea was (I think) that changes to helmets and such might confuse players or fans or, um, the NFL’s uniform police (?).
Dallas wore a throwback jersey when the Cowboys hosted the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football on Monday, September 19, 1994. The Cowboys’ throwback uniforms were mostly faithful to those worn between 1960 and 1963. Differences are the focus of these two trivia questions:
1. What was the major difference between the uniforms actually worn from 1960 to 1963 and those worn on September 19, 1994?
2. What else was different between the uniform worn at home on September 19, 1994 and those worn at home from 1960 to 1963?
Here’s a photo puzzle showing the throwback uniforms in question.