Video: The Studder

In 2007, we endured more than eight months of this highlight, now known more popularly as “The Flub”:

In 2008, we get “The Studder.” This one is painful. Watch Patrick Crayton get separation from Corey Webster, only to take a studder step and lose that separation. Had he continued running, it certainly looks like he would have run right under the ball:

My feeling: Well, it feels as if I just watched a video of a crash that left me paralyzed.

Update:

Courtesy of the DMN Blog, here is more on Crayton:

Wade Phillips usually goes out of his way to defend his players. That wasn’t the case with Patrick Crayton yesterday.

“If Patrick wouldn’t have slowed down, it would have been a touchdown,” Phillips said, referring to throw to Crayton in end zone in the final minute of the loss to the Giants.

Crayton acknowledged yesterday that his hesitation could have been the difference between playoff failure and preparing for the NFC championship game. He elaborated on the play during an appearance on Michael Irvin’s ESPN 103.3 show today.

Crayton said his route was supposed to be a 16-yard out, but he was surprised that he was able to blow by the cornerback so easily. He hesitated while deciding whether to adjust his route to continue running vertical, which is obviously what Tony Romo expected.

“I got on top of him [and] I was like, ‘Should I break out and let him sit underneath, or should I just go ahead and go?'” Crayton said. “That slight hesitation cost me that extra yard I probably needed.”

Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around, but I still don’t understand this play. You’ve got less than 20 seconds left, and Crayton had to know that he had the corner of the end zone all to himself (Romo did, obviously). ERRRRRRR…. I’ll let it go.

In March.

Some Historical Perspective, or Lack Thereof

Lots of people are still trying to make sense of the 21-17 loss to the Giants yesterday, and I am not going to make much of an effort to do it myself. This post instead is an effort to try to put this loss into historical context, and that will be tough because never in the history of his franchise have the fans endured so much disappointment as the past decade.

Compared to ‘Team That Couldn’t Win the Big One’

Thanks to some heartbreaking losses in the NFL Championship Games in 1966 and 1967, along with divisional round playoff losses in 1968 and 1969, the Cowboys earned some nicknames, including “Team That Can’t Win the Big One” and “Next Year’s Champions.” In his book Next Year’s Champions: The Story of the Dallas Cowboys (1969), Steve Perkins wrote:

No other pro football team has ever been quite like them, at one and the same time so rich, so dazzling, so young—and so tragic. They were the first expansion team to challenge for the championship, and when they lost two years in a row they lost dramatically and heroically—first the drama and frustration on the 2-yard line, then twelve months later heroism at the 1 on a skating rink in Green Bay. But how glorious to lose, and how poignant to keep the conviction in the hearts of Cowboy fans that their team was the best, as only time would tell.

As you know, a year after he wrote this, Dallas finally surpassed the hurdle of the championship game (NFC, that is), only to fall to the Colts in Super Bowl V. A year later, the misery ended, as Dallas won Super Bowl VI.

That era (1960-1971): twelve seasons, 88-72-6 record (53% winning percentage), six playoff wins, 4 Championship Game appearances, 2 NFC Championships, 1 Super Bowl Championship. And this period of time includes the inaugural 0-11-1 season of 1960.

Now? Since 1996, the Cowboys have managed to break even with a 96-96 record. Thus, even though the 1960s Cowboys played a 14-game schedule, those teams had only eight fewer wins that the most recent team has had during the same length of time playing a 16-game schedule. Playoff wins? We know the answer: one, in 1996. Six straight losses since then, and none of the other stats matter.

I’d say this era is a bit worse than the growing pains of the 1960s.

The heartbreaking plays then:

* With his team trailing by a touchdown at the end of the 1966 NFL Championship Game, Don Meredith’s fourth down attempt from the Green Bay two was picked off by Tom Brown in the end zone.
* Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak gave the Packers their final NFL (pre-NFC) title of the 1960s and sent them to Super Bowl II.
* Dallas muffed its way to losing Super Bowl V, with quarterback Craig Morton throwing two costly interceptions in the final ten minutes of the game that the Cowboys lost 16-13.

The most recent heartbreakers:

* Tony Romo drops the snap on an attempt for what could have been the game-winning field goal in a wildcard game loss to Seattle.
* With 21 seconds remaining and the team trailing by four to the Giants, receiver Patrick Crayton hesitates on a fade route thrown in his direction. Had he not slowed up, the play likely would have resulted in a touchdown.

No, this wasn’t all Crayton’s fault. But if you watch the replay of him slowing up, it becomes very clear that that brief moment of indecision cost Dallas the game-winning touchdown. And due to Crayton’s mouth, it’s easier to put some heat on him than it is on Jacques Reeves, who deserves quite a bit of blame for his failure to cover Steve Smith and Kevin Boss during the final minute of the first half.

Compared to ‘Post Doomsday’

The next depressing era of Dallas football lasted from the final season of Roger Staubach to the second season of Troy Aikman (1979-1990). That time period featured a 1-15 team and a 3-13 team, and the Cowboys still accumulated a 97-87 record over 12 years. The low points:

* Two weeks after his last miracle win (35-34 over Washington), Roger Staubach came up short in a divisional round loss to the Rams. (As an eight-year-old, I cried)
* Dallas lost three consecutive NFC Championship Games, each time to upstart teams, two of which were division rivals.
* In 1984, Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974. (First time that had happened since I started watching the team).
* The team tanked their playoff game at Los Angeles in 1985. The franchise tanked when Danny White broke his wrist at the Meadowlands in 1986. After a collapse that year, Dallas suffered five consecutive losing seasons.

Maybe others will disagree (The Boys’ Blog says that the 1979 loss was worse), but the loss to the Giants was worst I’ve ever experienced. The 1979 loss may compare, but that was a team that had been to the two previous Super Bowls and probably needed to reload. The 1981 NFC title game was closer in terms of pain, I think, because that was the best version of the Cowboys during the Danny White years, and the end was so shocking. Nevertheless, we had been to the Super Bowl five times in the previous 12 years (and twice in the previous five), so fans were a bit spoiled at that point. At the least, the team had not been as deprived as it is now.

Comparing Playoff Goats… and a Few Heroes

There have been more than a few goats in the history of the franchise, and we can now add a few more after yesterday’s debacle.

Don Meredith vs. Craig Morton vs. Danny White vs. Tony Romo

Romo may very well work his way back up the ladder among the Dallas quarterbacks, but right now he has as many playoff wins as Quincy Carter. He has a few things in common, though, with these others:

* Meredith: Both Romo and Meredith threw last-second interceptions in desperation efforts. For Meredith, it was the 1966 NFL title game. For Romo, it was a pass from the 23-yard line to a receiver who had missed nearly the entire season due to injury.
* Morton: Both Romo and Morton led high-powered offenses during their first full seasons as starters (1969 for Morton). And both lost in the first round of the playoffs (though, to be fair, Cleveland had beaten Dallas 42-10 during the 1969 regular season before beating the Cowboys in the playoffs).
* White: Both Romo and White (1981 more so than 1980 or 1982) received a considerable amount of blame for the team’s losses, though neither performed badly in those losses.

Biggest Goat: Morton, who never performed well in the playoffs for Dallas. Romo still has plenty of time.

Hollywood Henderson vs. Patrick Crayton

Henderson mouthed off about Terry Bradshaw much of the time leading up to Super Bowl XIII (something about spelling C-A-T). Crayton decided to mouth off about the Giants prior to their playoff game. Both ate their words.

The difference? Henderson caused a fumble by sacking Bradshaw. Mike Hegman recovered the fumble and returned it for a go-ahead touchdown. Crayton dropped passes and then took an ill-fated stutter-step on what would have been a game-winning touchdown catch.

Biggest Goat: Crayton, who cost his team much more than Henderson.

Jackie Smith vs. Patrick Crayton

I wouldn’t go this far.

Biggest Goat: Smith, who sets the standard for Cowboys goats.

Aaron Kyle vs. Jacques Reeves

Aaron Kyle took some heat after Super Bowl XIII for his missed tackle on John Stallworth, which resulted in Stallworth’s 75-yard touchdown reception that tied the game. The former first rounder (1976) played one more season in Dallas before being shipped to Denver.

Reeves was unable to cover rookie Steve Smith or rookie tight end Kevin Boss on a critical drive with less than a minute to go in the first half. He also committed a very costly 15-yard facemask penalty trying to tackle Smith, which certainly helped New York.

Biggest Goat: Kyle. Reeves is not a starter and does not have expectations of a first-round pick.

Mark Washington vs. Reeves

Mark Washington was the poor soul who was burned by Lynn Swann so badly in Super Bowl X. That was much more about Swann’s unbelievable day than it was about Washington’s coverage. Washington also had a bad day against the Redskins in 1972, when he replaced an injured Charlie Waters (see below). Washington gave up a 45-yard touchdown pass to Charley Taylor, which gave the Redskins an insurmountable 17-3 lead.

Biggest Goat: Reeves. Washington’s play was bad fortune as much as it was a bad performance. Reeves was just bad, and it cost Dallas dearly.

Duane Thomas vs. Marion Barber

Duane Thomas, who shut his mouth in protest during his last season in Dallas, led Dallas to Super Bowl V by gaining 143 yards against San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game. However, he came up short in the Super Bowl, committing a critical fumble near the Baltimore goalline when a touchdown would have given Dallas a 20-6 lead.

Marion Barber, who shuts his mouth but lets everything go on the field, led Dallas with more than 100 yards in the first half of the Giants. However, he struggled in the second half and missed a blitz pick-up on a play that could have been a touchdown for Dallas (Miles Austin had broken free on a streak pattern, but Romo did not have time to get it to him.

Biggest Goat: Thomas, but he made up for it in 1971. Barber was a hero yesterday and should get more chances.

Charlie Waters vs. Roy Williams

In the 1972 NFC Championship Game, Waters (then a cornerback) was burned by Charley Taylor for a 51-yard gain, followed by a 15-yard touchdown, giving Washington a lead that it would not relinquish. However, Waters later developed into one of the best postseason players in Dallas history. In a loss to the Rams in the divisional round in 1976, Waters blocked two punts and had an interception, each of which nearly allowed Dallas to pull out the win.

Williams? This game certainly wasn’t his fault, but he finished with a single tackle. On a third-and-one for the Giants from the New York 30 in the first quarter, the Giants split running back Ahmad Bradshaw out to the right, where he was covered by Williams. Eli Manning threw a short hitch to Bradshaw, who promptly broke Williams’ pathetic tackling effort (look up the phrase “titty tackle” if you aren’t familiar with the technique) and gained six yards for a first down.

Biggest Goat: Waters, but only in the 1972 title game. Williams fortunately wasn’t burned for any big plays. (Note: I really wish he would play on special teams coverage units, since that would appear to play to his strengths. Wishful thinking).

Chan Gailey vs. Bill Parcells vs. Wade Phillips

Gailey’s 1998 team lost to the Cardinals, who had not won a playoff game in more than 50 years and whom the Cowboys beat twice in the regular season. Parcells’ 2003 team made a surprising entry in the 2003 playoffs, only to fall apart against Carolina. Three years later, his improved squad could not survive “The Flub.” Phillips had a better regular season then either of them but saw the same result.

Biggest Goat: Gailey. He still had older versions of Aikman, Emmitt, and Irvin and a superior squad to the Cardinals. Parcells squads should have been better, but they were not supposed to win either game. If Phillips suffers another one-and-done, no matter the circumstances, he’ll knock Gailey off of this spot.

Giants 21, Cowboys 17: A Big, Fat Choke

Remember that team in the photo above? Same name as this bunch that gave the game to the Giants in every way possible– offensively, defensively, special teams. Every single way.

Remember that playoff drought? It’s going to continue. The 2008 season will be year 12.

The pathetic low points, which are tough to type right now:

* The Cowboys took a 14-7 lead late in the first half after a 20 play drive that took 10:28 off the clock. The defense then forgot that the half was over and allowed the Giants to drive 71 yards in less than minute to tie the game.
* Dallas took the opening kickoff of the second half and went on a 14-play drive that set up a field goal. The Cowboys had two shots to score a touchdown (once to Owens, another to Fasano), but had to settle for a field goal. That was the last Dallas score of the game.
* The kickoff coverage team stunk again, allowing a 45-yard return after the field goal. These long returns were far too common all season.
* After the defense held the Giants, the Cowboys had some chances. However, on 3rd and 13 from the Dallas 17, the suddenly mouthy Patrick Crayton dropped what would have been at least a first down if not a much longer gain. Punt for Dallas.
* That special teams coverage? Blew it again, allowing R.W. McQuarters to return the ball 25 yards into Dallas territory.
* Jacques Reeves was a goat for much of the game, giving up key passes to rookie Steve Smith.
* The offensive line could not handle the Giants in the fourth quarter. Romo threw off his back foot much of the time and was largely ineffective.
* It looked as if Dallas had some shots in the final two drives, but Romo could not find the open man. On the next-to-last play of the game for the Cowboys, Crayton looked as if he had a step on the defender but stopped for some reason.

We might need to look very closely at another team still in the playoffs for some inspiration: San Diego, which tanked its divisional round game last season only to rebound and make it to the AFC Championship Game. For us, this offseason is going to be even more unbearable than last year.

Preview: Cowboys vs. Giants, Playoff Edition

dallas cowboys preview

There is quite a bit of news to report about tomorrow game, and most of it is good.

* Terrell Owens is reportedly near 100% healthy, which is much, much better than what we heard early in the week. Here is the story from AP.
* Marion Barber will start instead of Julius Jones tomorrow, according to ESPN.
* Linebacker Greg Ellis was selected as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. NFL.com has more.
* Former Cowboy Larry Allen is expected to announce his retirement, according to reports.

Nostradamus Quatrain Generator

The Dallas Morning News had a post about various superstitions of some Cowboys fans. Of mine, my new one is to run the Nostradamus Quatrain Generator. Dallas was 4-0 during weeks that I ran it. The Cowboys were 0-2 during the weeks that I didn’t.

(Question: Will the Cowboys beat the Giants to advance to the NFC Championship Game?)

Response:

When the lamp burning with an inextinguishable fire
Not of your walls, of your lifeblood and substance
The fields watered will come to shrink
Before and after Mars to reign by good luck

My guess: Dallas shortens the field on offense and is blessed will good luck. Let’s leave good enough alone.

AccuScore

AccuScore assumed the Terrell Owens would play at 70% due to his ankle injury, and the Cowboys still won 67% of the simulations. We believe now that Owens is more healthy than that. Average score: Cowboys 27, Giants 21.

A month ago 99 percent of people would rather have had the Cowboys passing and running game than the Giants offense. While Tony Romo is forecasted for 35 more passing yards and is averaging 0.5 more TD passes, Eli is holding his own. The Giants combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are averaging 5 ypc for 115 yards which is more than Marion Barber and Julius Jones who combine for 100 yards and just 4 ypc. The simulations expect Terrell Owens to be playing at 70 percent which is still good for 80 yards and a 85 percent chance of 1 TD reception. The game is definitely coming back to the QBs. In 10000 simulations Romo has the edge, but on any given Sunday, Eli Manning could pull off the shocker.

Dallas Morning News

Of eight Dallas Morning News staff members, all predict a Dallas win.

Questions Waiting for Answers: First Playoff Edition

dallas cowboys ticket

Getting back to the normal features, here are this week’s questions waiting for answers. Note that this the FIRST playoff edition, because I fully expect more!

Will Terrell Owens play and be productive against the Giants?

Will Terrell Owens play and be productive against the Giants?

Yes to both. He will have a great game.
He will play, but he will be used primarily as a decoy.
He might play, but I doubt he will do much.
He’s out. I can feel it.


(View Results)

Create a Poll

This was a blurb on RotoWorld:

Terrell Owens (ankle) said in an NFL Network exclusive with Deion Sanders that he’ll play in the Divisional Round “at a high level” against the Giants.
Deion offered to tell viewers to get their popcorn ready, but Owens took it upon himself. “Getcha popcorn ready,” he said confidently. Owens’ practice participation was listed as “limited” on Thursday, but coach Wade Phillips grinned while saying T.O. only took part in “some” team work. It’ll be a shock if Owens is inactive.

Will Tony Romo’s return to pre-December form?

Will Tony Romo’s return to pre-December form?

Yes. I have full faith in him.
Yes, but his off-week made me nervou
I’m too nervous to guess.
No, and this off-season will be awfu


(View Results)

Create a Poll

The Dallas Morning News had a bunch of stuff today on Romo. Here is a link to a video posted on the DMN site.

Will the Cowboys break this nightmare of a playoff drought?

Will the Cowboys break this nightmare of a playoff drought?

Yes. It will be a blowout.
Yes, but it will be very close.
I’m too nervous to guess.
No, and this off-season will be awfu


(View Results)

Create a Poll

Dallas is a 7 1/2 point favorite, even though Owens has been questionable all week. I’ll take that as a good sign.

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.