Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 3 (1971)

This is the third part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

Not all famous games will appear on this list. For example, the Mad Bomber game from Thanksgiving Day in 1974 is a famous game, but it was hardly pivotal, given that the Cowboys missed the playoffs that year.

Likewise, Roger Staubach’s final regular-season game against the Redskins was unforgettable, but the Cowboys turned around two weeks later and lost to the Rams in the playoffs.

Instead, this series focuses on games that marked turning points—good and bad—in franchise history.

November 7, 1971: 

Dallas 16, St. Louis Cardinals 13

1971“The Dodger Era Begins”

The Cowboys struggled during both the 1970 and 1971 seasons. The team’s turnaround in 1970 was the subject of Part 2 of this list.

In 1971, Dallas was 4-3 following a frustrating 23-19 loss to the Chicago Bears. Tom Landry’s strategy of shuttling Roger Staubach and Craig Morton bombed. The Super Bowl could not have been on anyone’s mind.

Landry named Staubach the permanent starter before the team’s week 8 game at St. Louis. When Dallas fell behind 10-3 at the half, though, some might have thought Landry would go back to Morton.

But he didn’t, and Staubach led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind win. With the game tied 13-13, kicker Toni Fritsch nailed the game-winner. His comment following the win—”I no choka.”

The Cowboys did not choka for the rest of the season, either. The Cowboys won their final seven regular season games by a combined score of 202-77.

Dallas plowed their way back to the Super Bowl, then demolished Miami to win Super Bowl VI.

Although Morton had to start throughout most of the 1972 season because of an injury to Staubach, Dallas remained Staubach’s team during the rest of the decade. By the time the decade—and the Staubach era—ended, the Cowboys were America’s Team.

Previously:

Part 1, December 5, 1965: “A Loser No More”—Dallas 21, Philadelphia 19

Part 2, November 22, 1970: “Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”—Dallas 16, St. Louis 13

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