Dallas Cowboys Playoff Facts and Trivia: More Than You Could Possibly Want, Part 4 (2003-present)

This is the fourth post in a short series regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff history. Below is a listing of the different “eras” covered:

1. 1966-1973: Click here.

2A. 1975-1979: Click here.

2B. 1980-1985: Click here.

3. 1991-1999: Click here.

4. 2003-present: See below.

As you might suspect, this part of the series is pretty slim. We have the 2003 playoffs, in which Steve Smith ran all over the Cowboys’ secondary and led Carolina to a 29-10 win. We also have last season’s 21-20 loss to Seattle in a game I still refer to as “The Botch” even if the nickname hasn’t caught on.

The article below from the Associated Press— referring to last year’s game as “The Flub”– provides some context:

As the Dallas Cowboys collected milestones such as the best start in club history this season, coach Wade Phillips sure liked connecting his team to some of the greatest squads in franchise lore.

Yet last week, when it was noted the Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game since 1996, Phillips sure was quick to distance his guys from the predecessors who’ve run up the longest postseason drought in team history.

Sorry, coach, you can’t have it both ways. After this weekend, the 2007 edition will be linked one way or another – either as the team that broke the spell or part of the group that’s extended it.

Since winning the Super Bowl following the 1995 season, the Cowboys have won a single playoff game, in the wild-card round the following year. Dallas lost at Carolina a week later and things haven’t been the same since.

Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith were together two more full seasons without taking a single step toward another Super Bowl. Worse yet, they lost a playoff game to Arizona. At home.

Cycling through coaches and quarterbacks, the Cowboys have only made the postseason twice more. Both were on the road as wild cards. Both, of course, were losses.

“They say, ‘They haven’t won a playoff game in 10 years (11 actually),’ but you’ve only been in four,” Phillips said. “It’s not like you’ve been 10 years in a row and haven’t won one. Part of it is getting in there. If you get in there enough, you’re going to win your share.”

Phillips has a good reason for being a bit defensive about this subject. After all, he’s 0-3 as a head coach in the playoffs dating to his days in Denver and Buffalo.

In lieu of fond playoff memories since 2003, for which there are few, below is a look at the time periods that elapsed between playoff wins in the past, calculated in days. The only ones included are those where a significant period of time passed between wins… which wasn’t often.

Sept. 24, 1960 (opening day) to Dec. 24, 1967 (vs. Cleveland in a 52-14 win): 2647 days

Dec. 24, 1967 to Dec. 26, 1970 (vs. Detroit in a 5-0 win): 1098 days

Dec. 23, 1973 (vs. Los Angeles in a 27-16 win) to Dec. 28, 1975 (vs. Minnesota in the “Hail Mary” game): 735 days

Jan. 16, 1983 (vs. Green Bay in a 37-26 win) to Dec. 29, 1991 (vs. Chicago in a 17-13 win): 3269 days

Dec. 28, 1996 (vs. Minnesota in a 40-15 win) to right now:

4029 days, or
575 weeks, or
96,696 hours, or
5,801,760 minutes, or
348,105,600 seconds.

Many thanks to time and date.com for its fine Date Duration Calculator. And let’s please get a win this Sunday so that all of this is indeed trivial.

Ware, Witten, and Owens Named to the All-Pro Team

DeMarcus WareJason WittenTerrell Owens

Three members of the Dallas Cowbys were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team: linebacker DeMarcus Ware, tight end Jason Witten, and wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Ware

Ware has continued to improve each year since he was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft. He had 14.0 sacks this season, along with 84 tackles, both of which were career highs. He has become a force that all offenses must recognize.

Witten

Witten led all tight ends with 96 receptions for 1,145 yards, and he had seven touchdowns. He had a career day against Detroit in week 14, catching 15 passes for 138 yards, including the game winner in the final seconds.

Owens

T.O. had his most productive season in years, catching 81 passes for 1,355 yards, a 16.7 average. His 15 touchdown receptions broke the mark of 14 set by Frank Clarke in 1962. Somewhat surprisingly (for some of us, at least), Owens has emerged not only as the star player but also as a team leader this season.

2nd Team

In addition to those three, Leonard Davis and Flozell Adams were named 2nd team All-Pro. Davis was signed during the off-season and turned out to be the missing piece of the offensive line puzzle. Adams had some trouble with penalties early, but otherwise had a very good year.

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Facts and Trivia: More Than You Could Possibly Want, Part 3 (1991-1999)

This is the fourth post in a short series regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff history. Below is a listing of the different “eras” covered:

1. 1966-1973: Click here.

2A. 1975-1979: Click here.

2B. 1980-1985: Click here.

3. 1991-1999: See below.

4. 2003-present: Wednesday.

dallas cowboys triplets1991

* In the Cowboys’ 17-13 win over Chicago was the first playoff win for Dallas since 1982.

* Emmitt Smith gained 105 yards in his first career playoff game and was the first back to gain more than 100 yards against the Bears in Chicago’s history (Chicago was one of the participants in the first NFL Championship Game in 1932).

* Chicago drove into Dallas territory seven of its nine possessions, and twice had the ball inside the Dallas 10 without scoring a point. The Bears held the ball for more than 37 minutes but scored only 13 points.

* The Cowboy defender who iced the game was Bill Bates, who picked off Jim Harbaugh with 1:12 remaining.

* Steve Beuerlein started for the Cowboys in both playoff games in 1991. He went 9 of 18 for 180 yards with one touchdown against Chicago. Against Detroit, Beuerlein went 7 of 13 for 91 yards but threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.

* Troy Aikman’s first playoff appearance came in the second half against Detroit, with Dallas already trailing 17-6. He went 11 of 16 for 114 yards with one interception.

* The 31-point defeat to the Lions was the worst in team history in terms of margin of defeat.

1992

* When Dallas played Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs in 1992, it was the first time that the Cowboys had ever hosted a playoff game against a division rival. The Cowboys split games with the Eagles during the 1992 regular season.

* Former Cowboy Herschel Walker managed only 29 yards in six carries against Dallas. He also caught six passes but only gained 37 yards through the air.

* Tight end Derek Tennell caught his only pass as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1992 playoff game against the Eagles. His one-yard reception in the first quarter gave Dallas a 7-3 lead.

* The name of the play that resulted in Alvin Harper’s 70-yard reception that set up the game-winning score against the 49ers in the 1992 NFC Championship Game: Ace Right 896 F Flat. The play was designed for Michael Irvin to run the slant, but instead Irvin switched spots with Harper after breaking the huddle.

* Aikman’s performance against San Francisco marked the second time that a Dallas quarterback had thrown for more than 300 yards in a playoff game. Danny White was the first (vs. Atlanta in 1980).

* Aikman’s stats during the 1992 playoffs: 61 of 89 for 795 yards with 8 TDs and 0 Ints. That is a passer rating of 126.4.

* The defensive player who scored the second touchdown of the day for Dallas in Super Bowl XXVII: Jimmie Jones, who scored when Charles Haley forced a Jim Kelly fumble that Jones recovered near the goalline.

* The other defensive player to score for Dallas: Ken Norton.

* The safety who nearly scored: Thomas Everett, who returned an interception from the Buffalo 30 to the Buffalo 8. This set up Emmitt Smith’s 10-yard run.

* The player who should have scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and given Dallas the record for most point scored in a Super Bowl: Leon Lett, of course. The player who sacked Frank Reich on the play? Jim Jeffcoat.

* Time that elapsed between the Cowboys’ win in Super Bowl XII and Super Bowl XXVII: 5495 very long days.

* Time that has elapsed since Dallas won Super Bowl XXVII (as of Jan. 8, 2008): 5455 days.

* Time that has elapsed since Dallas won Super Bowl XXX: 4363 very long days.

dallas cowboys1993

* Troy Aikman threw twice as many interceptions against Green Bay in the 1993 playoffs than he had in his playoff career to that point. Nevertheless, he completed more than 75% of his 37 passes for 302 yards.

* After Dallas had a comfortable lead, Emmitt Smith saw limited action, rushing 13 times for 60 yards during the game. His primary backup was Lincoln Coleman, who gained 19 yards on five carries.

* Smith had a more active role in the Cowboys’ win in the 1993 NFC Championship Game. He touched the ball 30 times for a combined 173 yards (23 carries for 88 yards; 7 receptions for 85 yards).

* Prior to the 1993 NFC title game, Bernie Kosar had not appeared in a playoff game since the 1989 AFC Championship Game at Denver.

* Although the Cowboys dominated the 49ers offensively in a 38-21 win, Michael Irvin had one of his least productive playoff games, catching only two passes for 21 yards.

* With the Cowboys trailing 13-6 at the beginning of the second half of Super Bowl XXVIII, James Washington recovered a Thurman Thomas fumble and returned it for a touchdown. From that moment onward, the game belonged to Dallas. The player who broke through the line to cause the fumble? Leon Lett.

* The Cowboys recognized the play where Thomas fumbled. It was a direct snap to the running back, and the Cowboys saw the Bills practicing this play on television prior to the game.

* Still reeling from the effects of a concussion suffered against the 49ers, Aikman performed admirably in Super Bowl XXVIII, completing more than 70% of his passes and throwing for 207 yards.

* James Washington’s numbers: 11 tackles, one interception, one pass broken up, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.

1994

* The 94-yard touchdown pass from Aikman to Alvin Harper in the 1994 playoff win over Green Bay was the second longest in NFL playoff history.

* Three players gained more than 100 receiving yards against the Packers in 1994, including Jay Novacek (104 yards on 11 receptions), Irvin (111 yards on 6 receptions) and Harper (108 yards on 2 receptions).

* The leading rusher for Dallas vs. Green Bay: Blair Thomas, who spelled Emmitt Smith due to Smith’s hamstring injury.

* The Cowboys outgained the 49ers 451 yards to 294 in the 1994 NFC Championship Game. And in the final 52 minutes, Dallas outscored San Francisco 28-17. However, the 21 points scored by the 49ers in the first 7:27 of the game were enough to end the Cowboys’ hope for a three-peat.

1995

* Darren Woodson knocked Eagle quarterback Rodney Peete out of the 1995 division playoff game in the first quarter. Randall Cunningham, then a backup, completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in relief.

* The game against Philadelphia came less than one month after the infamous “Load Left” game, when Barry Switzer had decided to go for it on fourth and inches in Philadelphia territory. The decision eventually cost the Cowboys the game. The playoff game, though, was never in doubt.

* The name of the play called where Deion Sanders ran 21 yard for the first Dallas touchdown: Fake Tailback Jab Right Z Reverse Left.

* The 1995 NFC Championship Game represented the fourth consecutive season that Reggie White had faced the Cowboys (once with Philadelphia and three times with Green Bay).

* Smith had one of his finest days against the Packers in 1995, gaining 150 yards on 35 carries with three touchdowns.

* A goat turned hero in the NFC title game: Larry Brown, who was burned in the 1994 NFC Championship Game by Jerry Rice and again in 1995 by Robert Brooks. With Dallas holding on to a 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter, Brown picked off a Brett Favre pass, leading to the final Dallas touchdown which secured the win.

* Dallas took a 13-7 lead at the half of Super Bowl XXX. In eight Super Bowl appearances, the Cowboys have led at halftime of six of those games (exceptions: SB XIII vs. Pittsburgh and SB XXVIII vs. Buffalo).

* The Steelers outgained Dallas 310 to 254 in Super Bowl XXX. Dallas managed only 15 first downs to the Steelers’ 25.

* Larry Brown had the most famous of the Dallas interceptions in Super Bowl XXX. The third interception was recorded by Brock Marion on the final play of the game.

1996

* The Cowboys won a playoff game for the sixth consecutive season in 1996 by beating Minnesota in the wildcard round of the playoffs. It was the first time since 1991 that the Cowboys did not enjoy a bye week.

* The star of the 1996 playoff game was George Teague, who caused two fumbles (one setting up a touchdown, the other preventing one) and returned a pick for a score.

* Dallas scored 23 points in the second quarter of the win over Minnesota in a 40-15 win.

* The Minnesota game was the last playoff win for Dallas. Time period since this win: 4363 very long days.

* The 26-17 playoff loss to Carolina, which many mark as the end of the Dallas dynasty in the 1990s, was a battle of field goals. Chris Boniol of the Cowboys kicked three, while John Kasay nailed four.

* Dallas outgained Carolina 244 to 227 but was unable to gain any momentum due to a shoulder injury suffered by Michael Irvin.

1997

For the first time since 1990, the Cowboys had a losing record (6-10) and missed the playoffs.

1998

* Despite sweeping Arizona during the regular season, the Cowboys fell apart against the Cardinals in the 1998 wildcard round. Very little about his game, a 20-7 loss, is worth remembering for the Cowboys.

1999

* Dallas snuck into the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 1999 but bowed out against the Vikings in a 27-10 loss.

* Emmitt Smith scored a touchdown in the final playoff game of his career, giving the Cowboys an early 10-3 lead. Rocket Ismail had 163 receiving yards, but the Dallas offense was outplayed all game by the Vikings.

* * *

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Stats

Era 1 (1966-1973)
Playoff Seasons: 8
Games: 15
Record: 8-7
NFL/NFC Championship Game Appearances: 6
NFL/NFC Championship Game Record: 2-4
Super Bowl Appearances: 2
Super Bowl Championships: 1

Era 2 (1975-1985)
Playoff Seasons: 10
Games: 21
Record: 12-9
NFC Championship Game Appearances: 6
NFC Championship Game Record: 3-3
Super Bowl Appearances: 3
Super Bowl Championships: 1

Era 3 (1991-1999)
Playoff Seasons: 8
Games: 17
Record: 12-5
NFC Championship Game Appearances: 4
NFC Championship Game Record: 3-1
Super Bowl Appearances: 3
Super Bowl Championships: 3

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Facts and Trivia: More Than You Could Possibly Want, Part 2B (1980-1985)

This is the third post in a short series regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff history. Below is a listing of the different “eras” covered:

1. 1966-1973: Click here.

2A. 1975-1979: Click here.

2B. 1980-1985: See below.

3. 1991-1999: Tuesday.

4. 2003-present: Wednesday.

1980

* The Cowboys avenged their loss in the 1979 playoffs by beating Los Angeles, 34-13, in the wildcard round of the 1980 playoffs.

* The Rams trounced the Cowboys 38-14 in Anaheim two weeks before the playoff game. The loss effectively cost the Cowboys a division title.

* Tony Dorsett set a team record with 160 yards on 22 carries. The entire team rushed for 338 yards on 46 attempts.

* Danny White overcame three interceptions against Los Angeles by throwing three second half touchdowns. These TDs allowed Dallas to break free from a 13-13 halftime tie.

* The Cowboys’ playoff win over Atlanta in 1980 was selected as one of the NFL’s greatest games and featured on an NFL Films production.

* Dallas overcame a 24-10 fourth quarter Atlanta lead to win the game by a score of 30-27, thanks in large part to two touchdown passes from White to Drew Pearson.

* White surpassed 300 passing yards for the first time in his career against the Falcons.

* The Eagles in 1980 were the first Dallas playoff opponent from the NFC East since the Redskins in 1972.

* Ron Jaworski, who once played against Dallas in the playoffs as a member of the Rams, completed only 9 of 29 passes for 91 yards and 2 interceptions in the 1980 NFC Championship Game. However, Wilbert Montgomery ran right through the Dallas defense for 194 yards and a touchdown.

1981

* The Cowboys equaled their greatest margin of victory in a playoff game by beating Tampa Bay 38-0 in the 1981 divisional round of the playoffs.

* The shutout victory was the third in franchise history in the playoffs. The Cowboys have not since shut a team out during the postseason.

* The Cowboys picked off Tampa Bay quarterback Doug Williams four times. Dennis Thurman, of “Thurman’s Thieves” fame, picked off two of the passes.

* After “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, the Cowboys had a chance to move into position to attempt the game-winning field goal. When Drew Pearson caught a pass from White near midfield, Eric Wright grabbed a piece of Pearson’s jersey, thus preventing a Hail Mary, Part 2.

* The name of the player who hit Danny White on the following play, causing the quarterback to fumble: Lawrence Pillars. The name of the player who recovered the fumble: Jim Stuckey.

1982

* The NFL expanded its playoff system in 1982 due to the players’ strike.  A total of 16 teams out of 28 made the playoffs that year.

* Unlike the 1981 playoff game, Dallas struggled with Tampa Bay in 1982. Dallas trailed 17-16 in the fourth quarter before reserve defensive back Monty Hunter picked off a Doug Williams’ pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.

* Danny White suffered an infected tooth shortly before the game, and his hand was injured on the first play of the game. Nevertheless, he threw for 312 yards.

* Doug Williams, who had an injured hamstring, completed only one pass in the first half and eight in the entire game. However, his 49-yard touchdown pass to Gordon Jones gave the Buccaneers a 17-16 lead.

* Dennis Thurman was the hero in the Cowboys’ playoff win over Green Bay in 1982. He intercepted three passes, returning one 39 yards for a touchdown that gave Dallas a 20-7 lead at halftime.

* After Green Bay had closed the score to 30-26 in the fourth quarter, Dallas needed a big play. It came in the form of a flanker pass from Drew Pearson to Tony Hill that covered 49 yards, setting up a Robert Newhouse touchdown run that put the game away.

* Gary Hogeboom appeared in the 1982 NFC Championships Game thanks to a hit on Danny White by Dexter Manley. Two Hogeboom touchdown passes in the third quarter held the Redskin lead to 4 (14-10, then 21-17). However, an interception by Mel Kaufman set up a field goal by Mark Moseley. Less than a minute later, Manley tipped a Hogeboom pass, picked it off, and scored to give Washington a 31-17 that it would not relinquish.

* The Cowboys’ loss to the Redskins was their third consecutive defeat in the NFC Championships game. Dallas would not win another playoff game for nine years.

1983

* The Cowboys raced to a 12-2 start in 1983, only to lose badly to Washington and San Francisco in consecutive weeks to finish with a 12-4 record.

* The Rams recorded their third playoff win at Texas Stadium in eight years by beating Dallas in the wildcard round on the playoffs in 1983.

* Dallas was forced to open up its offense against the Rams. White attempted 53 passes and threw for 330 yards. However, he threw three picks, which hurt Dallas.

* Tony Hill had nine receptions for 115 yards in one of his best playoff performances.

* The game marked the final appearance of Drew Pearson, who was forced to retire in 1984 due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Pearson had two receptions for 49 yards in his final game.

* Attendance at the game was just 43,521, thanks to 20,015 no-shows.

1984

* For the first time since 1974, Dallas missed the playoffs in 1984.

1985

* The Cowboys suffered their only shutout defeat at Anaheim against the Rams in 1985.

* Rams quarterback Dieter Brock completed only six passes. However, throwing the ball was unnecessary, as Eric Dickerson demolished the Dallas defense with 248 yards on 34 carries. His rushing total was five more than the Cowboys’ offensive total.

* Trailing just 3-0 at halftime, the game unraveled in the first two minutes of the third quarter. A short kickoff gave the Rams good field position, and on the next play, Dickerson went up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown. A Kenny Duckett fumble on the ensuing kickoff set up a field goal, and those were all the points that Los Angeles needed.

* * *

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Stats

Era 1 (1966-1973)

Games: 15
Record: 8-7
NFL/NFC Championship Game Appearances: 6
NFL/NFC Championship Game Record: 2-4
Super Bowl Appearances: 2
Super Bowl Championships: 1

Era 2 (1975-1985)

Games: 21
Record: 12-9
NFC Championship Game Appearances: 6
NFC Championship Game Record: 3-3
Super Bowl Appearances: 3
Super Bowl Championships: 1

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Facts and Trivia: More Than You Could Possibly Want, Part 2A (1975-1979)

This is part of a short series of bullet-pointed facts and trivia about the Cowboys playoff history. The first era was featured in a post a couple of days ago. As I noted in that post, the second era covers the years of 1975 through 1985. I am going to further divide this era into two:

2A. 1975-1979: The Cowboys appeared in three Super Bowls during a five-year stretch, winning one of them. This was the latter half of the Staubach period.

2B. 1980-1985: There is enough overlap between this and the previous time period to call this one “era,” but the latter part of this time period featured no Super Bowl appearances. I will cover this tomorrow.

1975

* Roger Staubach was the only skill position player remaining in the 1975 playoffs from the team that won Super Bowl VI.

* Primary offensive players for the team in the 1975 playoffs were running backs were Doug Dennison, Preston Pearson, and Robert Newhouse; receivers Drew Pearson and Golden Richards; and tight ends Billy Joe Dupree and Jean Fugett.

* The 1975 season was the first in which the team with the best conference record had home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The Vikings had home field advantage that season with a 12-2 mark (the Rams had an identical record, but obviously lost the tiebreaker).

* The Cowboys were the wild card team that season. Prior to 1978, there was no wild card round of the playoffs.

* Although they were seven to eight point underdogs, the Cowboys moved the ball well against the Vikings for much of the afternoon in the 1975 playoff game, outgaining Minnesota 356 to 215 yards. On three occasions in the first half, Dallas moved the ball into Minnesota territory, but the Cowboys could not manage a single point.

* The Cowboys finally took a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter on Toni Fritsch’s 24-yard field goal. However, a late Viking scoring drive, capped off by a touchdown run by Brent McClenahan, gave the Vikings a 14-10 lead.

* The play that was nearly as miraculous as the Hail Mary itself was a 4th-and-17 that went for 25 yards two plays prior to the touchdown pass. Staubach hit Pearson on the Viking sideline, and Pearson was pushed out by defensive back Nate Wright before he could get his feet in bounds. However, the referee ruled that Pearson would have landed in bounds had Wright not pushed him out.

* Rather infamously, a security guard kicked Pearson in the ribs after Pearson had caught the sideline pass.

* A few names related to the Hail Mary:

— The Minnesota defensive back whom Vikings fans believe was the victim of offensive pass interference: Nate Wright.
— The field judge struck with a whiskey bottle and knocked unconscious: Armen Terzian.
— The Viking who received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play: Alan Page.
— The Dallas center on the Hail Mary play: rookie Kyle Davis, who had been drafted in the fifth round out of Oklahoma in 1975.

The Dallas Morning News has much more on the Hail Mary.

* In the NFC Championship Game in 1975, James Harris returned from a shoulder injury to start for the Rams. After throwing an early pick, however, he was replaced in the first quarter by Ron Jaworski.

* The Dallas defense was the real star (collectively) of the game against the Rams was the Dallas defense. Los Angeles managed only 22 yards on the ground along with a total of 11 pass completions that gained 147 yards. Running back Lawrence McCutcheon had only 10 yards on 11 carries.

* Dallas ran its lead to 34-0 in the third quarter of the game against the Rams. The blowout allowed Dallas to play some backups, including quarterback Clint Longley, whose final appearance as a Cowboy was during that game.

* The Cowboys opened Super Bowl X with a reverse on a kickoff return. Hollywood Henderson took the ball from Preston Pearson and returned the ball 48 yards into Steeler territory. However, Dallas immediately moved backwards and had to punt.

* The play that set up the first Dallas touchdown was a dropped snap by Steeler punter Bobby Walden. Billy Joe Dupree recovered the ball, and Dallas scored one play later on a pass from Staubach to Drew Pearson.

* Toni Fritch’s field goal at the start of the second quarter gave the Cowboys a 10-7 lead, one that they would hold for more than two full quarters. However, the Steelers managed to take a 15-10 lead thanks to a safety and two Roy Gerela field goals.

* Percy Howard caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Staubach to cut the Steeler lead to 21-17. It was Howard’s only reception in the NFL. In fact, his only other statistic was thanks to two kickoff returns during the regular season.

1976

* Two heroic playoff efforts that have been long forgotten, both against the Rams in a 14-12 Dallas loss in the division round of the 1976 playoffs: (1) The play of Charlie Waters, who blocked two punts and had an interception, each of which should have helped Dallas to a win; and (2) the play of Benny Barnes, who recorded two interceptions.

* Staubach had perhaps his worst performance in a playoff game in 1976, completing just 15 of 37 passes for 150 yards and three interceptions. The Rams outgained the Cowboys in both rushing and receiving.

1977

* The 1977 postseason marked the first time that Dallas enjoyed home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. This allowed the Cowboys to face Chicago, the wildcard entry, in the divisional round.

* In his first playoff game ever, Tony Dorsett ran for 85 yards on 17 carries. The team as a whole rushed for 233 yards, while the defense held Walter Payton to just 60 yards on 19 attempts. Nearly half of Payton’s yards came in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys already had a 34-0 lead.

* Waters had another impressive performance against Chicago, recording three interceptions.

* Special teams were a big key to the Cowboys’ win over the Vikings in the 1977 NFC Championship Game. A fake punt by Danny White in the second quarter helped to set up the second Dallas touchdown of the day, and a punishing hit by Hollywood Henderson on punt returner Manfred Moore in the fourth quarter caused a fumble that led to the last Dallas touchdown.

* Of the starters for Super Bowl VI, those remaining for Super Bowl XII were Staubach, Jethro Pugh, and Cliff Harris (though, of course, a few other backups remained as well).

* Craig Morton’s stats in Super Bowl XII looked much like they did during his Cowboys days: 4 of 15 for 39 yards and four interceptions.

* Until he made his amazing 45-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter of Super Bowl XII, he had a tough day. He recovered his own fumble on the game’s opening kickoff. He later fumbled (and recovered) another kickoff following a Denver field goal.

* The reason why Robert Newhouse was asked to throw the final touchdown pass was because Staubach had broken his finger earlier in the game. Newhouse completed only one pass during his career, a 46-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson against Detroit in 1975.

* Randy White (five tackles and one assist) and Harvey Martin (two tackles, two sacks, one deflection) were named co-MVPs. No other teammates have been given co-MVP honors for a Super Bowl.

* The Cowboys allowed just 23 points in three playoff games in 1977. In their first Super Bowl title year of 1971, Dallas allowed just 18 total points in three games.

* Staubach finished with a passer rating of 102.6 (17 of 25, 183 yards, 1 TD). His passer rating in his two Super Bowl wins was 108.3.

1978

* The Cowboys were favored by as many as 16 points in their division playoff game against Atlanta in 1978.

* The Atlanta player who knocked Roger Staubach out of the playoff game was Robert Pennywell. Tom Landry claimed that the hit was caused by Pennywell’s forearm.

* Pennywell later helped the Cowboys when he was called for a personal foul for a late hit on Tony Dorsett in the fourth quarter when the game was tied 20-20. Dallas later scored on that drive to take the lead for good.

* With the Cowboys trailing 20-13 against Atlanta, Danny White hit longtime Cardinal tight end Jackie Smith for a two-yard touchdown. Smith caught three passes for 38 yards, which were his only receptions in 1978 (we all remember what could have been the fourth!!!).

* The leading rusher for Dallas was fullback Scott Laidlaw, who gained 66 yards on 17 carries. Laidlaw scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

* The 1978 NFC Championship Game marked the first time that Dallas had been forced to wear blue (believed to be bad luck by many) since Super Bowl V. The jersey curse was not effective, as Dallas won 28-0.

* The shutout win was also the first for the team since 1970, when Dallas had beaten Detroit 5-0.

* Dorsett recorded his first 100-yard rushing performance in a playoff game in the 1978 NFC Championship game. He also scored a touchdown in the third quarter that gave Dallas the lead.

* Charlie Waters once again had a playoff performance that was among the best in franchise history. He picked off two passes and recovered a fumble. His two picks set up two Dallas touchdowns.

* One of my first very clear memories of the Cowboys (as a seven-year-old): Hollywood Henderson racing 68-yards for a touchdown on an interception return and then dunking the ball through the goalposts.

* The Cowboys took a 14-7 lead on Mike Hegman’s 37-yard return of a Terry Bradshaw fumble, but two Pittsburgh scores gave the Steelers a 21-14 lead at the half.

* For the first time in five Super Bowl trips, Dallas trailed at halftime of Super Bowl XIII.

* One play that was very controversial at the time but that has since been largely forgotten was a botched reverse that the Cowboys tried to perform in the first quarter. With the ball on the Pittsburgh 34 on the opening drive of the game, Drew Pearson attempted to take a handoff from Tony Dorsett. However, Person fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Pittsburgh’s Pete Banaszak.

* The play that has rendered Jackie Smith a goat in Cowboys history for all time was a 3rd-and-3 play from the Pittsburgh 10. With Dallas still trailing 21-14, Butch Johnson had given the Cowboys great field position to start the drive at the Steeler 42. Had Smith caught the pass from Staubach, it would have tied the game at 21. However, Dallas had to settle for a field goal that cut the Pittsburgh lead to 21-17.

* The name of the field judge who made the worst pass interference call in a Super Bowl: Fred Swearingen.

1979

* Vince Ferragamo, who made just his sixth NFL start in the divisional round of the 1979 season against Dallas, had played against the Cowboys in the 1978 NFC Championship Game due to an injury to Pat Haden.

* The game winner for the Rams was a 50-yard pass from Ferragamo to Billy Waddy, who caught the ball after it had been tipped by Dallas linebacker Mike Hegman.

* The game appeared to be another comeback effort for Staubach. Dallas trailed 14-5 at halftime but had rallied to take a 19-14 lead thanks to a Ron Springs touchdown and a touchdown pass from Staubach to Jay Saldi.

Cowboys Will Need Trifecta Against New York to Advance

It is now official: the Cowboys will face the Giants at 3 p.m. (central) next Sunday. The Giants looked pretty good today in a 24-14 win over Tampa Bay. As I noted yesterday, this is the first time that the Cowboys and Giants have ever played one another in the playoffs.

* * *

Other squads continue to raid the Cowboys’ coaching and scouting staffs:

* Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that Dolphins are expect to hire Tony Sparano.

* The Ravens are looking at both Sparano and Jason Garrett.

* Assistant director of pro scouting Brian Gaine is also headed to Miami to join general manager Jeff Ireland.

Romo’s Trip to Mexico Might Overshadow Owens’ Injury. Perhaps.

Tony Romo may have ensured that Terrell Owens’ injured ankle might not be the sole focal point of the media this week.

A website known as Flynet Online has posted several pictures of Romo with Jessica Simpson (along with Jason Witten and Jessica’s family) in Mexico. Simply scandalous.

Here are a couple of shots:

Tony Romo Jessica SimpsonTony Romo Jessica Simpson
I didn’t care to post them here, but if you are really curious, you can see a shot of Ms. Simpson grabbing Mr. Romo’s rear end. Really, really scandalous.

At least the T.O. news has some relation to football. Wade Phillips thinks that Owens will be ready for next weekend’s game (click here or on the image below)

You know the real reason why Owens will play? It’s because he spends his time in a hyperbolic chamber in the United States rather than taking off to Mexico on his day off. That’s why.

No, you should not take this post seriously.

* * *

With Seattle’s 35-14 win over Washington this evening, the Cowboys will play the winner of the New York-Tampa Bay game played tomorrow.

Can’t help but think that this is good news for Dallas, who would have had to play Washington for the second time in three weeks had the Redskins won. One-time Dallas kicker Shaun Suisham helped the Seahawks’ effort by missing a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that would have given Washington a 17-13 lead. Instead, Seattle retook the lead a few minutes later (it was not, however, as much of a rout as the score would suggest).

A few notes:

* Dallas has never faced the Giants in the playoffs, so a New York win would set up a first. The Cowboys and Giants are the only teams in the current NFC East that have never played one another in the playoffs.

* The Cowboys have played the Buccaneers twice in the postseason, both in the early 1980s. Dallas won 38-0 in 1981 and prevailed 30-17 in 1982.

The Giants-Buccaneers game starts at noon on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Facts and Trivia: More Than You Could Possibly Want, Part 1 (1966-1973)

The 2007 postseason marks the 29th time that the Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs. We can divide these appearances into four eras, which are as follows:

1. 1966 to 1973: Beginning with the team featuring Meredith, Perkins, Lilly and so forth, the Cowboys made the playoffs eight consecutive seasons out of the first fifteen of the team’s existence (this does not count the Playoff Bowl of 1965).

2. 1975 to 1985: Covering both the Staubach and White years, the Cowboys made the playoffs 10 out of 11 seasons between 1975 and 1985.

3. 1991 to 1999: In the second golden age for the Cowboys, the team had postseason appearances in eight of 10 seasons during the decade of the 1990s.

4. 2003 to present: The current decade has not been good for the Cowboys. Things should change for the better, though.

Below is a list of facts and trivia about the first era, covering 1966 through 1973.

1966

* The Cowboys first playoff game in its history technically was the Playoff Bowl following the 1965 season. Dallas lost to Baltimore 35-3 in the game that decided which team finished third in the NFL.

* The first playoff game that the Cowboys hosted in their history was the 1966 NFL Championship Game, attended by 74,152 at the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1967. Dallas lost 34-27 to Green Bay.

* With the Cowboys trailing 34-20 in the fourth quarter, Dallas receiver Frank Clarke caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Don Meredith to cut the lead to one touchdown. Clarke’s name reappeared in 2007 when Terrell Owens broke his mark for touchdown receptions in a season.

* Clarke finished with 108 receiving yards, while running back Don Perkins gained 108 yards on 17 carries.

1967

* The first playoff win in franchise history was a 52-14 triumph against Cleveland on December 24, 1967. Thanks in part to an 86-yard touchdown reception from Meredith to Bob Hayes, Dallas raced to a 24-0 first half lead.

* Reserve running back Craig Baynham, who had only six rushing yards during the 1967 season, scored three touchdowns against the Browns. In the NFL Championship Game the following week, Baynham finished with negative rushing yards (-2 on one carry) and negative receiving yards (-3 on one reception).

* In the win against the Browns, Don Meredith finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 (using today’s system, which was not created until 1973). He completed 10 of 12 passes for 212 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Backup Craig Morton, on the other hand, had a rating of 8.33 (on three attempts, of course).

* The famous Ice Bowl on December 31, 1967 had an attendance of 50,861, nearly 20,000 less than the Cowboys had at the Cotton Bowl the week before.

* With his 50-yard touchdown pass to Lance Rentzel in the fourth quarter of the Ice Bowl, Dan Reeves nearly equaled the passing yards of Meredith (who finished with 59) for the entire game. Reeves’ halfback option pass for a score gave Dallas a 17-14 lead. Most know the rest.

1968

* One year after dismantling the Browns, Meredith had a complete reversal of fortune in the 1968 playoff game at Cleveland. He completed only three of nine passes for 42 yards and three interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 9.72. Morton was not much better, completing nine of 23 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

* In the 1968 playoff game, the Cowboys and Browns were tied 10-10, thanks to Chuck Howley’s 44-yard return of a fumble in the second quarter. However, a series of turnovers in the second half proved to be the Cowboys’ undoing, as Dallas lost 31-20.

* Meredith’s last game as a Cowboy was the 1968 Playoff Bowl, which Dallas won 17-13. It was also Don Perkins’ final game.

1969

* The 1969 Playoffs were worse for the Cowboys, as they lost 38-14 to the Browns in a game that was never close. Morton completed only eight of 24 passes for 92 yards and had two interceptions.

* Roger Staubach’s first playoff appearance was against the Browns in 1969. He completed four of five passes, including a touchdown to Rentzel.

* The final Playoff Bowl played on January 3, 1970 was not much better for the Cowboys, as they lost 31-0 to the Rams.

1970

* The Cowboys advanced to the first NFC Championship Game by beating the Lions 5-0.

* Craig Morton completed only four of 18 attempts for 38 yards, but the Cowboys were able to move the ball thanks to strong rushing performances by Duane Thomas (135 yards on 30 carries) and Walt Garrison (72 yards on 17 carries).

* The Dallas defense held Detroit to 168 yards in total offense. The Lions were second in the NFL in points scored with 347 but could not manage a single point against Dallas.

* The Cowboys had to face the team that led the league in points scored, the 49ers, in the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco managed only 10 point in a 17-10 loss to the Cowboys.

* Thomas was once again the hero in the Cowboys’ win over San Francisco, gaining 142 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. Garrison added 71 on 17 carries and caught a touchdown pass.

* Morton was not much better in the Championship Game, completing only seven of 22 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown.

* Super Bowl V is best remembered as a comedy of errors. For Cowboys’ fans, it was not an entertaining comedy. Leading 13-6 in the fourth quarter with eight minutes remaining, Morton attempted a pass to Garrison, but the pass was deflected and ended up in the arms of Baltimore safety Rick Volk. Volk returned the ball to the Dallas 3, which set up the tying touchdown for the Colts. Then with 1:09 remaining, Morton attempted a pass to Dan Reeves, but the ball was tipped and picked off by Mike Curtis.  The Curtis interception set up Jim O’Brien’s 32-yard field goal that gave Baltimore a 16-13 win.

* Morton’s 1970 playoff stats (three games): 23 of 66, 266 yards, 2 TD, 4 Int. Modern passer rating: 32.8.

* While the Cowboys certainly gave Baltimore all of the help necessary, what really hurt Dallas was the ineffectiveness of Thomas, who gained only 35 yards on 18 carries and had a fumble about one foot from the end zone early in the third quarter. A score then would have given Dallas a 20-6 lead.

* Chuck Howley was the first non-quarterback, the first defensive player, and the first player from a losing team to be named as Super Bowl MVP. His honor was given due to two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

* Total first downs combined in Super Bowl V: 24 (14 for Baltimore, 10 for Dallas).

* Total turnovers in Super Bowl V: 10.

* Total Dallas penalties and penalty yards in Super Bowl V: 10 for 133 yards.

1971

* Staubach’s first playoff start came on the road at Minnesota in a game that Dallas won 20-12. He threw for 99 yards and a touchdown.

* The Minnesota defense was the Cowboys’ biggest hurdle, as the Vikings featured a unit that had allowed a league-low 139 points in 14 games in 1971. It was the Dallas defense, however, that limited the Vikings to three points until the fourth quarter.

* The first playoff game ever played at Texas Stadium was the 1971 NFC Championship Game. Attendance for the matchup between Dallas and San Francisco was 63,409.

* The Cowboys’ leading rusher in the Championship Game was Staubach, who gained 55 yards on eight carries. Staubach also had 103 yards by completing nine of 18 passes with no interceptions.

* Prior to the game, the Cowboys had been worried about the 49ers’ passing attack, which featured quarterback John Brodie. However, Brodie managed only 184 yards and was picked off three times.

* Defensive end George Andrie made one of the biggest plays in the 14-3 win when he picked off one of Brodie’s screen passes deep in San Francisco territory. Andrie returned the interception to the Dallas two, and Calvin Hill scored two plays later. Dallas led for the rest of the game.

* Of the 22 offensive and defensive starters for Dallas in Super Bowl VI, 18 had begun their careers with the Cowboys. The other four, though, were very important: WR Lance Alworth (from San Diego), TE Mike Ditka (from Chicago), LB Chuck Howley (originally played with Chicago), and CB Herb Adderley (from Green Bay).

* Staubach’s 119 passing yards were the fewest of any starting quarterback for a Super Bowl winner at that time (Len Dawson had 142 in Kansas City’s win in Super Bowl IV). This distinction lasted one year, when Bob Griese had only 88 passing yards in Miami’s win over Washington. No other quarterback who has won the MVP has ever had fewer passing yards than Staubach, though.

1972

* The Cowboys had only one appearance in the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game, participating in the annual event on July 28, 1972 thanks to their win in Super Bowl VI. Dallas won 20-7, though Staubach suffered an injury (recall that another injury suffered during that preseason wiped out nearly all of the 1972 regular season for Staubach).

* Staubach’s legend grew considerably in the Cowboys 30-28 win over San Francisco in the 1972 playoffs. Trailing 28-13 in the fourth quarter, Staubach came off the bench to lead the Cowboys to 17 fourth quarter points. This included touchdown passes to Billy Parks and Ron Sellers in the final minute and a half of the game.

* Trailing 28-23 with less than two minutes remaining, Dallas needed to recover an onside kick to stay in the game. San Francisco receiver Preston Riley caught the kick, but he was demolished by backup linebacker Ralph Coleman. Mel Renfro recovered the ball, giving Dallas life.

* Dallas scored with 52 seconds left, giving the 49ers another chance. However, Charlie Waters picked off a John Brodie pass in the final seconds to preserve the win.

* San Francisco had defeated the Cowboys at Texas Stadium 31-10, exactly one month prior to this playoff game.

* The 1972 NFC Championship Game was one of the worst in team history. The Cowboys managed only eight first downs in a 26-3 loss to the Redskins.

* Did you know? The Cowboys have faced the Redskins only twice in the playoffs, losing both times in conference championship games (1972 and 1982).

1973

* The Cowboys faced the Rams in the playoffs (not counting the Playoff Bowl here) seven times between the 1973 and 1985 seasons. The first of these games was a 27-12 Dallas win at Texas Stadium in 1973.

* Dallas raced to a 17-6 halftime lead over the Rams, only to see it evaporate to a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter. What saved the game for Dallas was a pass to Drew Pearson on a deep post pattern with 9:37 remaining in the game that turned into an 83-yard touchdown play. It was Pearson’s second touchdown reception of the game, tying his total for the 1973 regular season.

* Calvin Hill had 97 rushing yards against the Rams but suffered a dislocated elbow. He could not play in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota, forcing Dallas to start second year fullback Robert Newhouse.

* For the second consecutive season, the Cowboys played poorly in the Championship Game. Dallas managed only 169 yards in total offense, as Staubach threw for only 89 yards with four interceptions.

* Only 60,272 people attended the 27-10 loss to Minnesota. There were a total of 4,252 no-shows.

* With the Cowboys missing the 1974 playoffs, the 1973 NFC Championship Game brought and end to an eight-year playoff run. Another would begin soon, though.

* * *

Dallas Cowboys Playoff Stats, 1966-1973

Games: 15
Record: 8-7
NFL/NFC Championship Game Appearances: 6
NFL/NFC Championship Game Record: 2-4
Super Bowl Appearances: 2
Super Bowl Championships: 1

Horse Collaring a Pro Bowl Berth and a New Number

During the past two weeks, I crossed a state border a total of eight times (Texas to Oklahoma to Missouri to Illinois to Missouri to Iowa to Missouri to Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas). Great [emphasis] relaxing [emphasis] Christmas break. The Cowboys made my trip at little easier by beating Carolina, and the Bears made it much, much easier by taking care of Green Bay, thus giving the Cowboys home field advantage. Then came last week’s loss to the Redskins, leading me to spend 18 hours in the car worrying about what might happen in a week and a half against a team to be named later. Blah.

In the short time that I had limited ability to update, we’ve had a bit of news at Valley Ranch.

1. Bill Parcells hired Jeff Ireland to be general manager of the Miami Dolphins. Ireland’s most recent position with the Cowboys was as vice president of college and pro scouting.

2. Earlier today, the Dolphins fired head coach Cam Cameron (who, if you recall, was offensive coordinator at San Diego at the same time that Wade Philllips was the Chargers’ defensive coordinator). Reports now say that the Dolphins are looking at Dallas assistant head coach Tony Sparano to be their next head coach.

3. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of me concluding that Bill Parcells was an ineffective has-been. This year I think he’s a jackass.

Roy Williams

Our favorite strong safety who needs to improve his coverage and tackling skills, Roy Williams, had announced that he will change jersey numbers from 31 to 38, which he wore in college.

The story:

Eight is great for Cowboys safety Roy Williams. Well, 38, to be exact.

Williams said Thursday he would change his uniform number back to the one he wore as a standout at the University of Oklahoma beginning next season. Williams wore a No. 38 practice jersey during Wednesday’s workouts, prompting questions from the media on Thursday about why he wasn’t wearing his usual No. 31 jersey.

“What number change?” Williams teased before admitting that the change had been a long time coming for him.

When Williams first arrived as a rookie at Valley Ranch in 2002 he had to take No. 31 because cornerback Duane Hawthorne had No. 38. Williams could have had the number if he paid Hawthorne $20,000 – a move Williams didn’t want to make. Hawthorne left the team at the end of the 2002 season and safety Lynn Scott wore the number off and on through 2005. Since then, No. 38 has been available for any Cowboys player, allowing Williams to make the switch.

“I’ve always been wanting to change my number to that,” Williams said.

The number change isn’t just a throwback to Williams’ college days. It’s also rooted in the Bible, according to the safety.

“Eight in the bible is regarded as a new beginning, and I feel that after this season it’s time to switch over,” Williams said. “Switch to No. 38.”

Williams said he had talked to his pastor Rickie G. Rush at the Inspiring Body of Christ, a nondenominational church located in Dallas, telling him what he wanted to do.

Another factor in delaying the number change to next year, according to Williams, is not wanting Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to lose money on the large inventory of No. 31 jerseys in the marketplace.

“It was kind of helping out Jerry, so he wouldn’t lose money in the whole deal,” Williams said.

The same safety, who needs to improve his coverage and tackling skills, was also named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Yes, that Pro Bowl.

The records keep falling for these Cowboys, even though the team is in the middle of a bye week. Safety Roy Williams was named to his fifth Pro Bowl Thursday when the league chose him to fill the spot created by the death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

Williams’ selection makes him the 12th Cowboys player named to the NFC squad – a team record. The Cowboys had 11 Pro Bowlers in 1993 and 1994.

Williams called the selection a blessing and said it’s an honor to be going in place of Taylor.

“If Sean was still here I wouldn’t be going, and I appreciate even being the first alternate to go,” Williams said.

Williams said he would do something special for Taylor’s family before the Pro Bowl as a way of showing his respects but didn’t elaborate on the plans. He also said the NFC Pro Bowlers on defense will honor Taylor’s memory, but didn’t say what it would be.

Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin will move up to the starting spot and Williams is now the backup. The Vikings’ Darren Sharper is the other starter for the NFC.

Let’s review: Coverage. Tackling. No horse collar. And congrats otherwise.

A Nutshell Version of the Dallas Cowboys in the Year 2007

BallHype: hype it up!On New Year’s Eve on 2006, the Cowboys suffered an awful 39-31 loss to the 2-13 Detroit Lions. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 9-7 for the 2006 regular season, good enough to qualify the Cowboys for the playoffs. The year that began the next day was an eventful one. Below is an attempt to highlight those events.

January

January 6

The Cowboys blew an opportunity for a playoff win when Tony Romo dropped a snap while holding for a field goal that would have given the Cowboys a 23-21 lead at Seattle with less than two minutes remaining. It led to one of the longest offseasons that we’ve had in a while.

Collapse, and Season Over: Seattle 21, Dallas 20

January 22

After a few weeks of criticism directed at Bill Parcells, the Big Tuna put an end to the complaining by retir… er, resigning as head coach after four seasons as head coach of the Cowboys.

No More Tuna Bashing

End of January

The Cowboys considered a number of candidates for their head coaching position, including Mike Singletary, Norv Turner, Gary Gibbs, Dan Reeves, and Wade Phillips. Dallas also brought in former quarterback Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator, even before the team announced a head coach. Curious decisions…

No More Yankee Coaches! And No More from Georgia, Either!

February

February 9

The Cowboys chose to hire Phillips as their coach less than a week after the Super Bowl. Phillips had been defensive coordinator with San Diego and had previous head coaching experience at Buffalo. It was regarded as a safe choice.

Surely We Can’t Go Wrong with a Texas Native. Right?

February 25

Of the dozens (seems more like thousands) of mock drafts on the Internet, the player that many expected the Cowboys to pick was Texas lineman Justin Blalock. A player that did not show up was Anthony Spencer of Purdue.

Mock Draft Index Update: Blalock Still the Overall Choice

March

March 5

Dallas took a chance in free agency by signing Arizona G/T Leonard Davis to a 7-year, $49.6 million contract.

Cowboys Sign Leonard Davis, Martin Gramatica (DallasCowboys.com)

March 23

The Cowboys made a big signing on the defensive side of the ball, obtaining safety Ken Hamlin from the Seahawks.

Cowboys Sign Hamlin; News Conference Scheduled (DallasCowboys.com)

April

April 28

The Cowboys engaged in some wheeling and dealing on draft day. They first gave the 22nd pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a second rounder in 2007 and a first rounder in 2008. Dallas then turned around and obtained the #26 pick from the Eagles. With this pick, Dallas obtained Anthony Spencer, an outside linebacker from Purdue.

The complete draft:

LB Anthony Spencer
T James Marten
WR Isaiah Stanback
T Doug Free
K Nick Folk
FB Deon Anderson
CB Courtney Brown
CB Alan Ball

Grades for this draft varied significantly. Those who thought that the draft went well pointed to the fact that Dallas picked up Cleveland’s first overall pick in 2008. The assumption there was that the Cowboys manged to obtain a top five selection. Others thought that the Cowboys had blown it by not taking a receiver.

Grading the Dallas Cowboys 2007 Draft (OTB Sports)

May

May 30

North Texas got some good news at the end of May when the NFL announced that Super Bowl XLV would be held at the Cowboys’ new stadium in 2011.

North Texas Gets Super Bowl (Dallas Morning News)

June-July

The Cowboys’ training camp for the 2007 season opened in San Antonio at the end of July. Many eyes were on Wade Phillips to see if he could fix the Dallas defense.

Cowboys Training Camp Preview (Dallas Morning News)

August

The Cowboys won their first two preseason games, looking sharp in both of them. However, the team struggled in its last two.

Three key injuries caused significant concerns:

LB Greg Ellis— Ellis had suffered an Achilles injury in 2006 and missed half of the season. It did not appear that he would be back for the opener in 2007.

Ranking Greg Ellis with the Best Defensive Ends in Team History

WR Terry Glenn— Glenn suffered a knee injury and required surgery. His return was delayed several times throughout the regular season, and he appeared in only one game.

CB Terence Newman— Newman suffered a heel injury that left him out of the first month of the season.

September

The Cowboys won each of their games in September, including the season opener against division rival New York Giants. The Cowboys scored at least 30 points in each of these games, as the team enjoyed its best start in more than a decade.

Week 1: Dallas 45, N.Y. Giants 35: Nervous Moments, but a Great Win

Week 2: Dallas 37, Miami 20: The Big Plays and Points Continue

Week 3: Dallas 34, Chicago 10: These Cowboys Ain’t Bad

Week 4: Dallas 35, St. Louis 7: Second Half Domination Continues

October

The Cowboys faced some difficult challenges during the month of October. After a come-from-behind, last-second victory over Buffalo, Dallas showed that it did not quite have the firepower to put away the New England Patriots. Dallas managed a win over Minnesota before the bye week, though, so the Cowboys were 6-1 by the end of the month.

More good news came in the return of Newman and Ellis to the lineup, strengthening a defense that had been a little bit shaky in the first few weeks.

Week 5: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24: Oh, My God

Week 6: New England 48, Dallas 27: Playing in a Different League

Week 7: Cowboys 24, Minnesota 14: Thanks to Some Unsung Heroes

(Week 8 was a bye week)

November

The month of November looked awfully tough, with the Cowboys facing three consecutive division opponents, as well as the Green Bay Packers. Dallas asserted its dominance by beating all four teams, in addition to the New York Jets on Thanksgiving Day.

Week 9: Cowboys 38, Eagles 17: Surprisingly Dominant

Week 10: Cowboys 31, Giants 20: We Can Survive Even Stupidity

Week 11: Cowboys 28, Redskins 23: And We Can Win Ugly

Week 12: Cowboys 34, N.Y. Jets 3: Bring on the Pack

Week 13: Cowboys 37, Packers 27: A Very Fortunate Win

December

The month of December in general has not been good to Dallas this decade, and December 2007 was really no different. The Cowboys needed a couple of wins to clinch home field advantage, and the Cowboys got those couple of victories, though not in the manner that most would have liked. Nevertheless, the team wrapped up one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history, finishing 13-3 and winning the NFC East.

Week 14: Cowboys 28, Lions 27. Video: The Final 2:26

Week 15: Philadelphia 10, Dallas 6: All Out of Miracles

Week 16: Cowboys 20, Panthers 13: Feels Better Than a High Ankle Sprain

Week 17: Washington 27, Dallas 6: Good Thing This One Didn’t Matter. Right?

* * *

Some people don’t like Mickey Spagnola’s reporting, largely because he is a clue employee. I think he does a great job. His piece yesterday, Here Comes the Falling Sky, is very, very good.

Not only is “that game over with,” so is the regular season. Wipe the slate clean. That is the beauty of the playoffs. The regular season only allows you to qualify for the playoffs. The regular season only sets you up in the playoffs. But the regular season assures nothing. The meek can inherit.

Everyone starts from scratch. You know what, 16-0 doesn’t matter one bit. That doesn’t spot you seven points in your first playoff game. The next two best records in the NFL, the 13-3 records of the Cowboys and Packers, don’t win you a darn thing. Neither does 9-7.

Now it’s simple: Win or go home.

Ask yourself this: If the Cowboys had beaten the Redskins and other than finishing 14-2, what would that have mattered heading into the playoffs? What would have changed?

Confidence? From beating no more than an 8-8 team?

Momentum? Meaning winning your last two games means more than the seven straight you already had won or the five straight before losing to New England, your only other loss this season?

Aw, phooey.

If that’s the case, then New England, Indy, San Diego and Washington should be the Super Bowl favorites. Let’s see. Pittsburgh has lost three of its last four; Tampa Bay three of its last four; the Giants two of their last three; the Seahawks two of their last three; the Titans but .500 over the final eight; and the Packers and Jaguars have gone 3-2 over the last five, as have the Cowboys.

Few are “streaking” into the playoffs.