A Look Back (1977): Cowboys Stomp Giants Thanks to Dorsett’s 2 TDs

The New York Giants face rookie running back DeMarco Murray for the first time on Sunday. It would be nice of Murray could have the kind of debut against the Giants that another rookie once had.

In 1977, the Cowboys had drafted Tony Dorsett with the second overall pick. Dorsett had done little in the team’s opening game, but against the Giants, he showed his promise.

Dorsett didn’t start, but it took less than a full half before he would score his first NFL touchdown. He had two by the end of the day, along with a 62 rushing yards. Dallas stomped the Giants, 41-21.

Here are the highlights:

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from December 7, 1985

Mike Renfro: The Offense Comes Alive

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on December 7, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: Origin of the Word “Sack”

A reader asked Tex Schramm, “Why do they call it “sacking” the quarterback?”

Schramm had to ask around, and he finally found the answer from Los Angeles-based writer Bob Oates. Oates said that the player who first used the phrase was Deacon Jones, who himself wasn’t sure what it meant. Two options: (1) the sack refers to a defensive player draping over a quarterback, much like sacking something at a grocery store; and (2) sack may refer to a word used in the context of “sacking, pillaging, looting, or plundering a village.”

Cowboys Thump Cardinals on Thanksgiving

The Cowboys continued to put their 44-0 loss to the Bears behind them by beating up on the Cardinals in a 35-17 win on Thanksgiving. Dallas took advantage of three St. Louis fumbles in the win, which improved the Cowboys’ record to 9-4. Dallas was tied with the Rams for the second-best record in the NFC at that point.

After 13 games, Dallas was ranked #4 in the magazine’s Top 10 NFL Poll.

Wager Between Too Tall and Jeffcoat

Too Tall Jones and Jim Jeffcoat had a wager going in 1985 focusing on who would record the most sacks. After 13 games, Jones had the lead at 11-9. The winner would receive a six-pack of something or other.

Renfro at His Peak

A player who continued to stand out in 1985 was receiver Mike Renfro, who had come to Dallas via a trade in 1984. The former TCU star had 43 receptions for 634 yards and 5 TDs in the first 13 games that year.

Chris Collinsworth on the Cowboys

Today, Chris Collinsworth is a color commentator on NBC’s Sunday night games. In 1985, he was a receiver for the Bengals. His comment about the Cowboys then:

I always think of the Cowboys as the team I thought I would play for. A lot of draft experts were saying that they would take me with the 27th pick in the first round. Until the draft I was preparing to spend my pro career in the Dallas sun.

Tuesday Trivia: 7-5 Starts

Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Cowboys have started 7-5 just five times.

In three of those seasons, the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs. Which ones?

In only one of those seasons did the Cowboys eventually win the NFC East. Which one?

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Some are treating the Cowboys’ December woes as a Tony Romo issue exclusively. The truth is, though, that the Cowboys have had trouble towards the end of seasons for 15 years now.

Recall the 1997 season. Dallas wasn’t setting the world on fire, but heading into the week before Thanksgiving, the Cowboys were 6-5. Five games and five losses later, Dallas was 6-10 and looking for a new head coach.

In 1998, an 8-3 start ended at 10-6. A year later, the Cowboys went 1-3 in December and struggled to an 8-8 finish.

Goodbye, Chan Gailey.

The Dave Campo years were completely forgettable. So were the ends of seasons during the Bill Parcells era.

The 8-3 start in 2003 ended up being a 10-6 season. A record of 8-5 in 2005 led to a 9-7 finish.

Then came Romo’s first year as a starter in 2006. Dallas had an 8-4 mark after beating the Giants on the road. But Dallas lost three of its next four games to finish at 9-7 once again.

And, of course, Romo and the Cowboys haven’t figured out a way to win in the final quarter of the season since then (save for a nice three-game stretch to conclude the 2009 campaign).


Video: How ‘Bout Them Cowboys

Today’s news: Jason Garrett thinks he made the right moves at the end of yesterday’s loss to the Cardinals.


That’s about all I want to write today. I’ll instead provide a video from a group known as 5th Flow.

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Here are a few more stories from various feeds:

Cowboys Deal Their Own Hand Aces and Eights: Lose to the Cardinals

Aces and Eights is the dead man’s hand. That’s what Dallas dealt themselves on Sunday.

It should come as no surprise that Dallas lost to the Cardinals. Yes they should have won, but something seems to keep Dallas from winning at Arizona and to be honest the Cowboys have not been playing their best football. Dallas won two of the last three by close margins, overtime wins or last minute field goals, and it all caught up to them. That voodoo hex that defeats the Cowboys probably made Garrett call a timeout just before Bailey missed his field goal which would have won Dallas the game.

While I am disappointed as a win could have put the form in the hands of Dallas to get to the post season as the rest of the teams in the NFC East lost, the destiny of the Cowboys is in their own hands. I would really like to write to put this game behind me and the Cowboys but a few things really stand out.

I can’t really say the Defense did their job. While they held the Cards to 19 points, held Fitzgerald to 55 yards, the allowed the Cards over 300 yards of offense and a 52 yard catch and run to finish overtime. It looked to me like the Cardinals played against the Ryan aggressive defense and took advantage of them. Dallas needed turnovers to seal the deal, but they did not get any. Looks like they missed Josh Brent more than they will ever let on.

The offense should take a lot of the blame and specifically the offensive line. They allowed 5 sacks and were only able to muster 75 rushing yards. Some of this could be attributed to a rookie fullback replacing Tony Fiammetta, but the offensive line should have helped some in this regard. However it also comes down to play calling and coaching. Time management at the end of the game was horrible. Tony threw the ball 42 times. Almost every time that happens Dallas loses. Then to not score but 1 touchdown is pretty pathetic.

How many fans will call for Garrett’s head after this game?

Finally the coaching. WOW. For as much as Ryan talks about how great he is, his defense is not. For all the talent the Cowboys have they should be making a greater impact. Maybe this is just the first season with the new scheme that is limiting them, but it’s probably just the coaching. Then we have Jason Garrett. Its gotta hurt to call a timeout to ice your own kicker. That alone will have fans calling for his head.

This late in the season for Dallas to make the mistakes like they did on Sunday its really telling of how they will finish the season. Yes they can still win the NFC East. Yes they still can make the playoffs, but I almost hope they don’t because if they do it could be a total embarrassment. This next game against the Giants will tell us all if the Cowboys can make any type of post season push and I will be there to witness it.

Be sure to check out other great articles at isportsweb.

Jason Garrett’s Costly Time Out

It’s usually the defensive coach who wants to ice the kicker but the Dallas Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett, iced his own kicker.

Dan Bailey had already missed one attempt against the Arizona Cardinals and then would miss a second with only a few ticks on the clock. The attempt would have given the Cowboys a victory over the Cardinals 16-13.

With only a few seconds left and after Tony Romo once again drove the Cowboys down the field to set up the game winning field goal, Jason Garrett called time out right before his kicker took the snap.

Be sure to check out other great articles at The Penalty Flag.

Dallas Cowboys Face December Demons

November is over for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the month in which the team hosts a game on Thanksgiving Day. It’s the month in which the entire team seems to be on its best behavior. And it’s over. It’s pretty inexplicable, if you ask me. The seasons seemed to run like clockwork during the entire Wade Phillips era; save for the 2007 season, in which the Cowboys tore up the NFC all year-long. Typically, the team plays bad in September, then plays mediocre in October (usually just to break even after a horrible September). Then, November rolls around and the Cowboys absolutely kill it. Then… oh, yes… then December comes, and the cold nature of winter sets in.  Tony Romo is 19-2 in November for his entire career. He also happens to be 9-12 in December. It’s a pretty stark contrast; one that leaves no explanation whatsoever. It’s almost as if it’s all in Romo’s head. Last season was the first since 2004 that saw Dallas finish with a losing record. So, the story goes that this season provides the weakest schedule the Cowboys have had since the 2005 season. Sure enough, they play at Arizona next Sunday, followed by […]

Be sure to check out other great articles at The Penalty Flag.

Arizona 19, Dallas 13 (OT): The Cowboys Ice Their Own Kicker

Dan Bailey missed two long field goals, including one that would have beaten the Cardinals on Sunday.

These endings had become a bit routine. Late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 13, the Cowboys forced the Cardinals to a three-and-out at the Arizona 9. Dallas had a chance for a nice put return.

And the Cowboys got that punt return, as Dez Bryant returned the kick to the Arizona 25. However, Orlando Scandrick was called for an illegal block in the back, moving the ball back to the Dallas 32.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys moved the ball into Arizona territory, converting a 3rd-and-11 to the Arizona 31 with  more than 20 seconds left. Dallas had two timeouts left, but Tony Romo decided to let the clock run down to eight seconds before spiking the ball.

Dan Bailey lined up for a field-goal attempt and appeared to make it. However, Jason Garrett called timeout just before the kick. The real attempt fell short, sending the game to overtime.

[There is some debate right now about whether the Cowboys managed to ice their own kicker. Perhaps that’s not the best description, but I’m leaving the title of this post as-is.]

It was Bailey’s second miss of the game after he had made 26 consecutive attempts. He did not get another chance.

In overtime, a penalty moved Arizona back to its own 24. But on 2nd-and-19, Terence Newman was called for pass interference.

Four plays later, Newman had another poor play, as he was unable to get away from a receiver. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ arm tackles could not stop LaRod Stephens-Howling, who took a swing pass and weaved 52 yards for the game-winning score.

Arizona 19, Dallas 13. Dallas falls to 7-5.

The only good news for Dallas was that the Giants lost to the Packers. Dallas hosts the Giants next Sunday night.

Romo suffered five sacks in the loss. Though Dallas had a 10-3 lead at halftime, thanks to Romo’s touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, the Cowboys had a hard time maintaining drives. Mat McBriar punted three times, and Bailey missed his first attempt.

With Dallas leading 10-3, Arizona held the ball for the first 6:42 of the second half. A field goal cut the Dallas lead to 10-6.

The Cowboys answered with a long drive of their own, and Bailey’s second field goal increased the lead to 13-6.

Arizona then tied the game early in the fourth quarter on a touchdown run by Beanie Wells. Two subsequent Dallas drives ended in McBriar punts. The Dallas defense managed to hold Arizona until the fateful drive in overtime.

DeMarco Murray fell back to earth, managing only 38 yards on 12 carries. Bryant had the best game on offense, catching 8 for 86 with a score. He had two huge receptions on the Cowboys’ last drive.

Cowboys vs. Cardinals as Non-Division Rivals

The St. Louis (and later Phoenix/Arizona) Cardinals long served as thorns in the side of the Dallas Cowboys. Even when the Cardinals didn’t quite pull out wins, Dallas often struggled.

For most of these years, the Cowboys and Cardinals were in the same division. Dallas joined the NFL’s Eastern Conference in 1961 and played St. Louis twice per year from 1961 to 1966.

Things changed for a few years in 1967, though, as the Cowboys moved to the Capital Division while the Cardinals were members of the Century Division. Dallas and St. Louis still played one another, though they faced off only once per year.

Both teams were members of the NFC East from 1970 through 2001 and played a total of 63 times. Since 2002, Dallas has been in the NFC East while Arizona has been in the  NFC West.

When the teams were division rivals, Dallas had a record of 49-26-1 against Arizona, including a playoff loss after the 1998 season.

As non-division opponents, the teams have played a total of 10 times. Their 11th meeting takes place on Sunday.

Here is a look at the other games played as non-division opponents:

Most Power Rankings Have Cowboys in the Top 10

It wasn’t long ago that the Cowboys were among the bottom third in the league in various power rankings. With their four-game winning streak, Dallas now ranks in the top 10 in most polls.

Here’s a look at three of those polls:



Dallas moved up one spot this week in the ESPN poll to #8.

The Cowboys control their own destiny, with three of their last five games on the road, starting Sunday at Arizona. (Fox)

Pete Prisco, CBS

Prisco has had the Cowboys ranked higher than others for much of the year. However, he has them ranked one spot lower this week than ESPN.

Teams should be scared of the Cowboys. They have a lot of talent and this is a team that is getting better as the season moves along.

Brian Billick, Fox

Billick doesn’t think very highly of the Cowboys he still has them ranked 9th.

Unimpressive wins against the Dolphins and Redskins were wins nonetheless. The two head-to-head games with the Giants may determine the division, but with the Giants’ loss and their remaining schedule, the Cowboys are clearly in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Not sure they are in the same category as the other division leaders, though Dallas did beat the 49ers in San Francisco in OT.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 30, 1985

Bill Bates: Taking on Another Speciality

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on November 30, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: Use of Polaroid Pictures

One reader asked Tex about whether teams could you Polaroid pictures during games. For instance, a coach in the press box could take pictures of defensive alignments and send these pictures to coaches on the sidelines. Tex responded that this was acceptable. The only limitation was that coaches could not use video replays on the sidelines.

(We still see similar uses of photos today, though coaches essentially send the pictures via fax).

Cowboys Rebound vs. Eagles

The team’s 44-0 loss to the Bears did not create a hangover effect, as the Cowboys rebounded to beat the Eagles 34-17. Danny White threw three touchdown passes without an interception in the win.

One critical play was a touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie right before halftime. It gave Dallas a 21-10 lead.

Dallas remained tied with the Giants atop the NFC East with an 8-4 mark. Washington was still hovering at 7-5.

This was a must win for us if we want to win our division. Philadelphia is one of the most improved teams we have played….We are in the stretch drive now. We have a playoff chance with four games left. — Tom Landry

With the win, Dallas moved back up in the Top 10 NFL Poll, landing at #6. Chicago was the unanimous choice for #1.

Bill Bates: Punt Returner

All-purpose defensive back Bill Bates added duties as punt returner in 1985. Despite his lack of speed, the team was pleased with his efforts. He averaged 6.9 yards per return on 22 punts in 1985.

Future of the Dallas Offensive Line

Several offensive linemen were featured as possible starters for the 1986 season. Two familiar names showed up in this feature: Mark Tuinei, who was a strong candidate to play either center or tackle, and Brian Baldinger, who wanted more playing time at guard.

Baldinger (now an NFL Network analyst) started four games in 1984, but an injury sidelined him for the 1985 season. Tuinei, on the other hand, did become a starter at left tackle in 1986.

Waiting to Play: Steve Pelluer

Steve Pelluer was a second-year player in 1985 and was sitting behind Danny White and Gary Hogeboom on the depth chart. Tom Landry had said that he wanted to get Pelluer more playing time, though. The quarterback had set a record at the University of Washington with 4,365 yards of total offense in one season.

Brad Sham Interviews Jim Jeffcoat

Jim Jeffcoat had a breakout year in 1985. Against Washington on November 10, he set a team record with five sacks. Brad Sham asked him what Jeffcoat’s thoughts were when the Cowboys selected him with the #1 pick in 1983.

I came into the Cowboys organization feeling that I wanted to contribute in some way, whether it was through special teams or through the pass rush, whatever. Most young defensive linemen get the most chance by rushing the passer, because they’re not prepared to play against the run in the NFL.

Jeffcoat added that he learned the flex defense from Harvey Martin, which helped his development.

Cowboys Hoping to Improve Record After Thanksgiving

Three years ago, I wrote a post about the Cowboys’ record after Thanksgiving. What I noted there was that between 1966 and 1984, the Cowboys’ record during the week after Thanksgiving was 16-1.

Between 1985 and 2007, though, the record in those games sank to 10-13. It has not gotten much better. In 2008, Dallas lost to the Steelers in a game that hurt the team’s playoff chances. One year later, the Cowboys had a one-game lead in the NFC East after Thanksgiving, but they lost to the Giants during week 13. In both 2008 and 2009, the Cowboys had won their Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Last season was a bit different. Dallas was unable to hang on to its lead against New Orleans on Thanksgiving and lost 30-27 to the Saints. A week later, Dallas traveled to Indianapolis to face the Colts. The Cowboys pulled out the win in overtime thanks in large part to Sean Lee’s breakout performance.

The last time that Dallas won both the Thanksgiving Day game and the next game was 2007, when the Cowboys beat the Jets on Thanksgiving and then wrapped up the NFC East by beating the Lions.

Looking a Bit Like 2009

With the Giants’ loss to New Orleans on Monday night, the Cowboys sit alone atop the NFC East. It marks the first time since week 12 of the 2009 season that the Cowboys have led the division alone.

In 2009, a Thanksgiving Day win over Oakland gave Dallas an 8-3 mark, which was one-game better than the Giants (7-4) and Eagles (7-4). The Redskins were out of it at 3-8.

Of course, Dallas lost the division lead by losing consecutive games to the Giants and Chargers. New York, though, lost three of its last four to finish at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Dallas won its final three games, including the season finale against the Eagles, to take the division title.

This year, Dallas (7-4) has a one-game lead over the Giants (6-5). The Eagles and Redskins are all but out of the race at 4-7, though stranger things have happened should the Eagles make a complete turnaround.

The Cowboys’ schedule includes two games against the Giants, along with games against the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Eagles, each of which have losing records at this point. The Giants still have to face the Packers and Jets, along with the Cowboys and Redskins. The Eagles have a relatively light schedule, facing the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Redskins, along with the Jets and Cowboys.

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After five games this year, DeMarco Murray had a total of 73 rushing yards. He now has 834 yards on 147 carries (5.7 ave.), which ranks 9th in the league. Get this– Murray has more rushing yards that the likes of Steven Jackson (813), Arian Foster (805), and Ray Rice (722).

At this pace, Murray would have more than 1,200 rushing yards for the season. The last time that a Dallas running back had at least 1,200 rushing yards was 2000, when Emmitt Smith finished with 1,203.