Trivia and Stats
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It’s old news now that the Cowboys have released receiver Miles Austin. For two seasons, Austin looked like the next coming of Drew Pearson—a free agent receiver with first-round talent. He was a key part of the Cowboys’ playoff season of 2009 following his breakout performance against the Kansas City Chiefs that year.
He was less impressive though still dangerous in 2010. Since that time, he has battled hamstring injuries and has not produced as he did in 2009.
Here are some final stats related to Austin’s time in Dallas:
1. Austin was primarily a kick returner between 2006 and 2008. He averaged 24.1 yards per return on 89 kickoff returns. The biggest moment of his early career occurred in the 2006 playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, when Austin returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas a 17-13 lead. It marked the only time that Austin ever scored on a kickoff return.
2. Austin caught his first NFL pass on Thanksgiving Day against the Jets on November 22, 2007. He caught a 17-yard pass on the Cowboys’ opening drive. Dallas later scored on that drive en route to a 34-3 blowout win.
3. His first 100-yard game was against the Green Bay Packers in 2008. He caught passes of 63 and 52 yards to gain 115 yards that night.
4. Other than the Green Bay game in 2008, he did not surpass 45 receiving yards in a game until he started against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 11, 2009. The reason he started was an injury suffered by Roy Williams against the Broncos the week before.
5. His 250 receiving yards against the Chiefs in 2009 are the most in franchise history. He broke Bob Hayes’ record of 246 set in 1966.
6. He had less than 45 receiving yards in only eight games between October 11, 2009 and the end of the 2010 season. He had nine games in which he had more than 100 receiving yards.
7. Austin’s success was critical for the Cowboys in 2009. Dallas had released receiver Terrell Owens and needed a playmaker to emerge. Despite starting only nine games, Austin caught as many passes (81) as Owens had in 15 games in 2007, which was Owens’ most productive season in Dallas. Austin finished with 1320 yards and 11 TDs in 2009. Owens had 1355 yards and 15 TDs in 2007.
8. Between 2011 and 2013, Austin had only three 100-yard receiving games.
9. In the three season finales against the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles in 2011, 2012, and 2013, Austin caught a combined total of four receptions for 42 yards.
10. Austin’s last 100-yard game with the Cowboys came on October 28, 2012, when he caught nine passes for 133 yards.
11. His last touchdown reception as a Cowboy occurred on December 23, 2012 against the New Orleans Saints.
12. Austin caught his last pass as a Cowboy in the fourth quarter of the season finale against the Eagles. The 16-yard pass from Kyle Orton to Austin gave the Cowboys a first down at the Philadelphia 49 with the Cowboys training 17-16. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs, however.
13. Austin finishes his career in Dallas ranked ninth in receptions. Thanks to his two receptions against the Eagles in his final game as a Cowboy, he surpassed former tight end Doug Cosbie on the team’s reception list (301 for Austin, 300 for Cosbie).
14. Austin ranks seventh in receiving yards but is just 377 yards ahead of Dez Bryant.
15. Austin ranks tenth in TD receptions with 34. Bryant already has 40.
The news today is that DeMarcus Ware signed a three-year contract with the Denver Broncos. Ware thus joins a fairly short list of Dallas players who have eventually migrated to Denver.
Some relevant trivia:
- The first noteworthy Dallas player to join the Broncos was Craig Morton, who led Denver to the Super Bowl after joining the team in 1977.
- Of course, former Cowboy running back Dan Reeves became the Broncos’ head coach in 1981, and two of his assistants—Wade Phillips and Chan Gailey—later became head coaches in Dallas.
- Former Dallas defensive back Charlie Waters was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator under Phillips in 1993 and 1994.
- Ware is the highest-profile Dallas player to become a member of the Broncos via either trade or free agency since Tony Dorsett’s trade to Denver in 1988.
- And for trivia that is beside the point—What did the Cowboys get for Dorsett? A conditional fifth-round pick. The selection? Defensive tackle Jeff Roth of Florida. He never played a game in the NFL.
- As for Ware, he was scheduled to make $12.25 million with Dallas but will now make $13 million in Denver. Makes sense.
Now some trivia questions:
Two defensive linemen for the Cowboys during the 1990s joined the Broncos as free agents in the early 2000s. Who were they?
The scratch-off card below reveals the answer.
Orkut Scrap Toys
Jerry Jones has celebrated the 25th anniversary of his purchase of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. Here are five trivia questions about Jerry during that year.
I am perhaps overdoing it with the puzzles, but they have prevented me from being too sarcastic about the Cowboys this offseason.
Anyway, most mock drafts have the Cowboys taking a defensive tackle in the 2014 Draft. This would mark the first time since 1991 that the Cowboys have selected a DT in the first round.
In their history, the Cowboys have taken eight DTs in the first round. The results are quite mixed, with two of the players making the Hall of Fame, two never playing a down with the Cowboys, and the others falling somewhere in between.
Here is a crossword puzzle featuring these former first-round picks. The puzzle should vary, and not all eight players will show up in every puzzle.
Below are all eight hints:
- 1991, Miami (FL)
- 1991, Mississippi
- 1987, Nebraska
- 1985, Michigan
- 1978, Michigan State
- 1975, Maryland
- 1964, Texas
- 1961, TCU
The Dallas Cowboys had four solid seasons to close out the 1960s. However, the team did not have the star power that franchises such as Green Bay and Baltimore (Colts) had.
Only two players who played for the Cowboys during the 1960s appeared on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade team. One of those players was defensive tackle Bob Lilly.
Who was the other?
One hint: the player isn’t even in the Ring of Honor.
Second hint: complete the puzzle below:
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.