Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 2 (1970)

This is the second 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.

1970November 22, 1970: 

Dallas 45, Washington 21

“Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”

By 1970, the Dallas Cowboys had become Next Year’s Champions. The team had highly successful regular seasons but faltered in the playoffs.

The 1970 season looked different, but not in a good way. The Cowboys started out with a 5-2 record before losing to the New York Giants on the road on November 8. One week later, the bottom fell out as the Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 38-0.

Nine weeks into the season, the Cowboys were 5-4. They trailed both the Cardinals and the Giants in the division and had already lost to the Cardinals twice.

It appeared that Dallas would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1965. This was hardly the best start to the first season after the NFL-AFL merger.

Fortunes changed on Sunday, November 22.  Quarterback Craig Morton, who entered the game with a completion percentage of 41.5, hit on 12 of 15 pass attempts. His two touchdown passes in the second quarter helped the Cowboys build a 24-7 halftime lead en route to a 45-21 rout.

The Cardinals ended their game in a tie with Kansas City. St. Louis improved to 8-2-1 the following week but lost three straight to end the season at 8-5-1.

The Giants lost two of their last five to finish at 9-5.

Meanwhile, Dallas won its final five games of the regular season to win the division with a 10-4 record. The Cowboys then beat the Lions and 49ers in the NFC playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.

Of course, Dallas lost to the Colts in Super Bowl V, so this season did not have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the team had gone one step further than it ever had, setting the stage for their first championship season one year later.

Previously:

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

 

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