Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 23, 1985

Danny White: Rounding into Former Form?

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 23, 1985.

Demolition at the Hands of the Bears

It was not a good week after the Cowboys played the Chicago Bears on November 17. Chicago rolled into town and demolished the Cowboys in a 44-0 shutout. It remains one of the ugliest losses in franchise history.

Tom Landry’s comment:

What we had here today was a real old-fashioned whipping.

Yup.

What many forget (including this writer) is that Dallas had a decent start to the game, picking up five first downs on three possessions compared to just one first down for Chicago. It was not the Dallas defense that caused the rout but rather the Dallas offense. Chicago scored 14 of its 24 first-half points off interception returns, and the Bears knocked starter Danny White out of the game early in the second half. White had been injured earlier in the game but had returned.

One accomplishment for the Cowboys— William “The Refrigerator” Perry did not score at the goal line late in the first half. Otherwise, this one was one of the worst games ever for Dallas fans.

Danny White Resumes Leadership Role

White was the cover boy for the November 23 issue. He had been elected as a captain for the 1985 season and was pivotal as the team tried to claim the NFC East title.

According to Mike Renfro:

Danny’s more relaxed now. He’s gotten back into the leadership role…

Everson Walls and His Grambling Spirit

Another player having a solid season in 1985 was cornerback Everson Walls. He  had seven interceptions by Week 11 (and a total of 9 for the entire season).

Nevertheless, he had a chip on his shoulder for not being drafted after coming from Grambling University. Instead, Dallas signed him as a free agent in 1981.

All I know is, guys that are not anywhere as accomplished as me got picked, but they aren’t around anymore.

Feature on Defensive Back Victor Scott

The November 23 issue featured defensive back Victor Scott, who had a child in September 1985. Scott had survived growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois and was a standout at the University of Colorado. The 1985 season was his best, when had two interceptions, scored a touchdown, and recorded three sacks.

[Scott’s story didn’t turn out to be a good one, though. He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Texas]

Clint Murchison Visits Valley Ranch

Former team owner Clint Murchison got to visit the team’s new facility in Valley Ranch. He was giving a guided tour by team president Tex Schramm.

Will the 2008 Draft Go Down as a Bust as Well?

The last month has not been kind to the 2008 draft class for the Dallas Cowboys.

The team cut Tashard Choice, who was the fourth-round pick that year. Many would like to see Dallas rid itself of Martellus Bennett, who has managed only nine receptions this year and who has not been a big factor in the running game as a blocker.

Felix Jones may have lost his starting job for good to DeMarco Murray. Mike Jenkins has been out as well, and though he’s been missed more than Jones, it is more because the team’s reserve corners have sometimes struggled than because of Jenkins’ play earlier this year.

Orlando Scandrick had an interception vs. Washington on Sunday, but he was also called for holding on a key third-down play late in the game.

The remaining player was linebacker Erik Walden, who has become a starter with the Packers this year.

So this class may not be as bad as the 2009 draft, but it may turn out to be a bust. What do you think?

Was the 2008 draft a bust?

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An Odd Twist to a Cowboys-Redskins Trivia Question

Three weeks ago, I posted a question about which running backs played for both the Cowboys and the Redskins. At that point, the Redskins had just signed Tashard Choice after Dallas had waived the running back.

On Sunday, Choice became the seventh running back to have played for both teams. Here is the complete list:

J.W. Lockett– Dallas 1961-1962; Washington 1964
A.D. Whitfield– Dallas 1965; Washington 1966-1968
Calvin Hill– Dallas 1969-1974; Washington 1976-1977
Duane Thomas– Dallas 1970-1971; Washington 1973-1974
Timmy Smith– Washington 1987-1988; Dallas 1990
Adrian Murrell– Washington 2000; Dallas 2003
Tashard Choice– Dallas 2008-2011, Washington 2011

As it turns out, Choice’s only game with the Redskins will have been the Cowboys game. Washington waived the back today after Choice gained just 7 yards on 6 carries. He had a decent run of 9 yards early the game (after which he made some gesture to the Dallas sideline), but he had trouble for the rest of the game.

In four seasons, he has gained 1,146 yards with 8 touchdowns.

* * *

Two individuals with ties to the Cowboys are semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Charles Haley once again made the list, as did Bill Parcells. This is Parcells’ first year of eligibility after retiring following the 2006 season.

* * *

Not good news: Gerald Sensabaugh may have to miss Thursday’s game against Miami with a foot injury. He joins Tony Fiammetta, Miles Austin,  and Mike Jenkins among the starters on the injury report.

Romo Learns Excess Timeout Rules Along with the Rest of Us

I heard a commentator on the radio today suggest that Tony Romo would not have been called for a penalty for trying to call a time out before Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal. The commentator’s reasoning was that referees are instructed not to grant the time out and that there is no penalty for the attempt to call the time out.

Bob Sturm’s story today says the same thing:

On Monday, the league cleared up the scenario with a clarification on the ruling of what might have happened: “Officials would not have granted Tony Romo a time out. They are instructed to ignore the request when a team has no time outs.” This renders my speculation on what might have been irrelevant as was any subsequent discussion on whether this would have been ruled a 5-yard delay of game or a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct. The league claims they would never have penalized Romo for that mistake.

However, Todd Archer of ESPN wrote a blog entry suggesting that Dallas would have been charged a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Here is the rule, which Archer also quotes:

Unsportsmanlike Conduct. An attempt to call an excess team timeout or to call a second timeout in the same dead-ball period by Team B in an attempt to “freeze” a kicker, will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and will subject the offending team to a 15-yard penalty (See 12-3). This will apply to field goal or Try attempts.

Note: If an attempt is made to call a timeout in such situations, the officials shall not grant a timeout; instead, play will continue, and a penalty will be called, with customary enforcement. If a timeout is inadvertently granted, the penalty shall also be enforced.

The rule seems unambiguous, but the comment from the league would indicate that officials would have ignored Romo’s request and just called a delay-of-game penalty. I thought perhaps the Official Case Book might settle things, but I don’t see anything that covers this scenario.

At any rate, we should still thank Mike Shanahan for making this an academic question.

And the NFC East Is a Race After All

Two weeks ago, the Giants had a 6-2 record after beating the Patriots on the road. Dallas rebounded from a loss to the Eagles during the previous week to beat the Seahawks. Nevertheless, the Giants’ two-game lead seemed to be a pretty wide gap that the Cowboys would struggle to make up.

It’s two weeks later, and the Cowboys are now sitting with the Giants on top of the NFC East. Dallas faces Miami and Arizona before playing the Giants on December 11. The Giants, in turn, face New Orleans and Green Bay. Dallas ends the season against the Giants on the road.

The Eagles’ win was the best-case-scenario for Dallas, but Philadelphia is not out of the race. The Eagles play New England next Sunday but then have games against Miami and Seattle, along with the Jets, who are struggling. The Cowboys face the Eagles on December 24.

Dallas 27, Washington 24 (OT): Field Goal Makes Up for Poor Punt Coverage

At least one of these obnoxious, hands-on owners had to win today. Unless the teams tied, of course, which was a possibility.

The Cowboys managed their third consecutive win on Sunday by beating the Redskins 27-24 on a Dan Bailey field goal in overtime. The kick came eight plays after Washington’s Graham Gano missed a 52-yarder that would have given the Redskins the win.

This marks the first three-game winning streak for Dallas since the end of the 2009 season. The Cowboys could be just a game behind the Giants if the Eagles can find a way to beat New York on Sunday night.

For a quarter and a half, the Cowboys looked as if they would roll to a easy win at FedEx Field. Thanks to a TD pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, Dallas held a 10-0 lead, and Washington was having trouble making first downs.

On a 3rd-and-1 play for the Redskins at the Washington 29, Rex Grossman tried a QB sneak. He appeared to lose a fumble, which Barry Church recovered and returned to the 1-yard line. However, the Redskins successfully challenged the play, and Washington was able to punt. Sav Rocca banged a 63-yard punt, and though Akwasi Owusu-Ansah managed a return, a penalty pushed the ball back to the Dallas 5. The Cowboys followed that with a three-and-out.

Mat McBriar—who never shanks a punt—shanked the punt. Washington got the ball at the Dallas 32, and six plays later, Grossman ran for a score to cut the Dallas lead to 10-7.

The Dallas offense went nowhere and were forced to punt. Brandon Banks returned the ball into Dallas territory, and the Redskins were in business again. Six plays later, Grossman  hit Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown that gave the Redskins the lead.

In eight minutes, the entire complexion of the game changed, and it looked as if the game could start to slip away from the Cowboys.

Washington took the kickoff to open the second half and drove 55 yards to set up Gano’s only field goal of the game. Dallas responded with a three-and-out, and Banks gave the Redskins another boost with a 55-yard punt return.

However, the Redskins could not move the ball, and Gano’s 49-yard attempt went wide right.

Dallas was in business, and the offense took advantage. The Cowboys went on a 14-play drive that ended early in the fourth quarter with a TD pass from Romo to Laurent Robinson.

The Cowboys defense forced a punt, the offense promptly moved the ball from the Dallas 12 to the Dallas 41. On a 3rd-and-8 play, Romo rolled to his right and found Jason Witten, who found a seam. Witten took the pass all the way for a score, giving Dallas a 24-17 lead.

On the next play from scrimmage, Orlando Scandrick picked off Grossman, and it looked as if Dallas could put the game away. However, Dallas was forced to punt with 5:45 left in the game.

Washington took the ball at its own 11, and Grossman found holes in the Dallas secondary. With just 22 seconds left, Grossman found Donte Stallworth in the left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 24.

The Redskins drove from their own 18 to the Dallas 33. On a 3rd and 7, Grossman rolled right and slid, taking a sack. It left the ball at the Dallas 34, setting up Gano for a 52-yard attempt. He missed to the right.

Dallas moved into Washington territory but faced a 3rd-and-15 from midfield. Romo made a huge play, buying time in the pocket before hitting Bryant for a 26-yard gain.

The play set up Bailey to try to make his 25th consecutive kick. The kick moved to the right and looked as if it might go wide, but it ended up just inside the crossbar.

Romo threw three touchdowns without an interception. Nine different Cowboys caught passes in the game.

McBriar only averaged 24.1 yards per punt (net average) on seven punts. That was the ugly part of the game. However, Bailey helped the special teams effort, making both of his attempts while Gano missed two of three.

Predictor: Cowboys’ Playoff Odds are 63.37%

ESPN ran a post today showing the odds that contending teams have for making the playoffs. The 5-4 Cowboys are certainly in the mix, given that the team only trails the Giants by one game.

According to the ESPN report, which relies on a website known as numberFire, Dallas has a 63.37% chance of making the playoffs. The predictions also indicate that the Giants will have a collapse and miss the playoff altogether.

The summary:

The Cowboys looked truly dominant against Buffalo and find themselves right in the thick of things in the NFC East. Dallas will benefit from a soft schedule the rest of the way, including games against the Redskins, Dolphins, Cardinals and Bucs.

Thus, though the Cowboys are predicted to finish at 9-7, Dallas will win the NFC East and enter the playoffs with the #4 seed. The Cowboys under this scenario would host Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

On Paper, This Might Become Romo’s Best Year

The passer rating system in the NFL isn’t perfect, and modern quarterbacks certainly have an advantage over QBs of yesteryear.

On 14 occasions, the Cowboys have had a quarterback attempt at least 100 passes in a season and finish with a QB rating of at least 90. Roger Staubach did this three times during his career. Troy Aikman did it twice, as did Danny White.

Tony Romo has finished with a rating of at least 90 six times. That’s every season he has served as a starter for a full or partial season, including 2010.

At this point, his QB rating of 97.7 is higher than his rating in any other season. He has a completion percentage of 64.7% and has 16 TD passes compared with 7 interceptions. The numbers are just slightly better than his 2009 season, when he finished with a rating of 97.6.

Notably, the only player on the list to finish a season with a QB rating of at least 100 was Staubach, who did so in 1971. It was a very different era, obviously, and he did not throw nearly as often as Romo. Moreover, he only started 10 games that year. Nevertheless, he threw only four interceptions compared with 15 TD passes.

Here is the list:

Another Look Back to the Cowboys-Redskins Game in 1991

There have been many memorable games at Washington over the years, but one of the greatest took place in 1991. Dallas had started the 1991 season at 5-2 but had lost three of four games to fall to 6-5. Their twelfth opponent was Washington, which was 11-0 heading into the game.

Few gave Dallas a chance, but the win turned out to be pivotal as the team make a playoff run and eventually became the dynasty of the 1990s.

Here is a video clip of the 1991 game:

* * *

The 2011 Cowboys have a similar record, but Dallas heads to Washington this year with momentum and a two-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Washington is struggling, having lost five straight after starting the season at 3-1.

Here is a preview of the game from CBS Sports.

* * *

And just to round out the videos, here is one about the Dallas-Washington rivalry.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 16, 1985

Jeff Rohrer: Escaping the Stereotype

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 16, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: Tom Rafferty’s Secret

One reader noticed that center Tom Rafferty wore an older style of white jersey while the rest of the team wore a more modern version. Tex Schramm seemed impressed that the reader noticed the difference.

[You] are pretty observant. Tom Rafferty does wear a slightly different jersey than the other players. This is because he plays center, and therefore, has different requirements of his jersey than other offensive linemen. The jerseys wore by the regular linemen are normally worn as tight as possible. This, of course, is done to make them more difficult for the defensive linemen to grab. The defensive linemen can use their hands to grab the offensive linemen in an attempt to throw him one way or the other.

Rafferty, playing center, must have the flexibility of being able to snap the ball. Therefore, his jersey is custom designed and produced by a special company. The arms are made of a different material, which is probably what is most noticeable. Our secret is out.

Cowboys Edge Redskins in Rematch

The Cowboys would have preferred to manhandle the Redskins in another 44-14 blowout when Dallas visited Washington in week 10. Nevertheless, the team managed to pick Joe Theismann off three times in a 13-7 win. Though Dallas only managed the 13 points, the team outgained Washington 338 to 267.

Dallas was able to take a 13-0 lead in the third quarter thanks to a 48-yard pass from Danny White to Tony Dorsett. Washington came back early in the fourth when Theismann hit Gary Clark on an 11-yard score. However, the defense made several stops late in the game to help the Cowboys secure the win.

Bears Showdown Awaits

The Cowboys and Bears were considered the top two teams in the NFL heading into their week 11 showdown. Dallas had won six straight over Chicago, including a 23-14 win at Soldier Field in 1984.

According to Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary:

I”m just looking forward to playing against a great football team—and going against a great coach and a great offense.

Cowboys Announce Christmas Video

Several Cowboys participated in what resulted in the first of two infamous Christmas videos. You might recall that this blog posted a few from the 1986 edition.

In 1985, two of the “hit” songs included “12th Day of Christmas” and “I Don’t Want to Be Home for Christmas.” A sampling of the lyrics:

12th Day of Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

Twelve surfing Cowgirls (Mike Saxon, Fred Cornwell), 

Eleven quarterback sacks (Ed Jones),

Ten thousand yards (Tony Dorsett),

Nine million fans (Tony Hill),

Eight touchdown passes (Danny White),

Seven one-hand catches (Mike Renfro),

Six interceptions (Everson Walls),

Five Super Bowl rings (several players)…

Four big hits (Bill Bates), 

Three down the middle (Rafael Septien),

Two turf shoes (Phil Pozderac),

And a new hat for Coach Landry (various players).

I Don’t Want to Be Home for Christmas (Chorus)

I don’t want to be home for Christmas

It’s that playoff time of year.

I’d rather be on the sideline., 

with the Gatorade and the gear.

Someday the chestnuts by the fire

would be perfect at Christmas time.

But I don’t want to be home for Christmas this year.

Jeff Rohrer: Shaking the Ivy League Image

The cover boy for the November 16 issue was Jeff Rohrer, who starred at Yale before joining the Cowboys. He was trying to overcome the stigma of playing for an Ivy League school.

“Stigma” in this case means, according to the article, “smart-enough-but-not-tough-enough.”

Rohrer started 13 games in 1985.

John Dutton Has a Fan

With a line that featured Ed Jones, Randy White, and Jim Jeffcoat, it was easy to forget defensive tackle John Dutton. He had at least one fan, though—Carlos Bocanega of Corpus Christi. He wrote:

I’m writing to say a few words about John Dutton. It seems like he is mentioned only when he is called for a penalty. I think John Dutton is a good defensive tackle, because quietly he always does his job and is always in the line-up week in and week out So I hope you don’t overlook his great part of the team.