At that point, Pittsburgh had a total of 19 playoff wins in its history along with five Super Bowl appearances.
Since that time, the Steelers have a postseason record of 14-6 with two Super Bowl wins. And Pittsburgh will play in its eighth Super Bowl in two weeks with the possibility of winning an NFL-record seventh title.
As you know, the Cowboys have playoff mark of 2-7 since 1996, and Dallas fans have only been able to remember what used to be when it comes to Super Bowls.
As of now, the Steelers and Cowboys are tied with 33 playoff wins and eight Super Bowl appearances. If Pittsburgh wins, the Steelers get to celebrate their 34th playoff win underneath Jerry’s giant television.
Here are each team’s playoff wins:
Many would consider the opening-game loss to the Redskins to be the biggest turning point for the Cowboys in 2010. However, losses to the two NFC Championship Game participants tomorrow were just as important in the progress (or lack thereof) in 2010.
Week 2 vs. Chicago
The Cowboys were coming off a fluke (for the most part) loss to the Redskins, while the Bears were 1-0 thanks to a fluke (for the most part) win over the Lions.
The game against the Bears didn’t start bad, as the Cowboys managed two sacks within the first seven minutes of the game.
However, the Cowboys also unveiled two of their recipes for disaster in the first quarter, and these types of plays haunted Dallas for most of the season.
First, Miles Austin introduced his Volleyball Technique™, which involved him getting his hands on the ball over the middle only to see the ball fall into the hands of a defender. Roy Williams later used the same technique, allegedly paying Austin royalties for the right to use the move.
Click on the picture to see the video clip.
Second, after looking like the defense would dominate Chicago early in the game, Dallas revealed its Can’t Cover Anyone Defense®. Jay Cutler figured out late in the first half that if Alan Ball were on the field for the Cowboys, Ball would find a way to be out of position or simply be unable to cover anyone. Cutler threw what we used to call a pop pass to Greg Olsen, who was about five yards in front of Ball. Ball then used his Can’t Catch Up to a Tight End method and watched Olsen run the rest of the way for a 39-yard touchdown.
Dallas had a lead later in the first half but couldn’t hold it. With a chance to tie the game, David Buehler missed a 48-yard field goal attempt. And with a chance to make a stop to keep the game within one score, Dallas had to replace Mike Jenkins with Michael Hamlin, who was released later in the season.
The Cowboys never really overcame the problems they had against Chicago: (1) untimely and avoidable turnovers; (2) a secondary that couldn’t cover anyone; and (3) David Buehler’s inconsistency. Dallas eventually found some serviceable backups for the secondary, but by then the starters were awful.
Week 9 vs. Green Bay
Against the Packers, the Cowboys decided to avoid those nagging mistakes that led to some close losses. Instead, the team just never showed up. Aaron Rodgers looked nearly perfect against the Dallas defense, and other than Dez Bryant, none of the Dallas skills player did anything.
Of course, the loss led Jerry Jones to fire Wade Phillips and hire Jason Garrett as interim head coach. And from that point on, Dallas managed to go 5-3 to avoid any further disgrace.
Thanks to a fan of the former Los Angeles Rams, fans of the Dallas Cowboys who lived during the 1970s can relive two of their more painful memories.
Between 1975 and 1979, the Cowboys compiled an overall record of 56-18 and appeared in three Super Bowls. The number of Super Bowls may have been greater had the Cowboys not lost two games at Texas Stadium.
By two points.
In each game.
First, the Cowboys in 1976 went 11-3 and had to face the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs. Dallas had demolished Los Angeles in the NFC Championship Game in 1975. However, the lack of an effective rushing game haunted the Cowboys, and they fell 14-12. While trailing 14-10, the Cowboys had moved Ram territory, but Roger Staubach could not come up with the touchdown. The reason the game ended up at 14-12 was because the Rams took a safety as time expired.
Here’s a clip showing the end of the game:
Three years later, the Cowboys again had home field advantage against the Rams. And as was the case in 1976, the Cowboys had demolished the Rams at the L.A. Coliseum the year before in the NFC title game. But thanks to a [comment removed by author because we don’t use certain language around here even if the author does generally] receiver named Billy Waddy, Dallas once again came up two points short.
In a sad moment for most eight-year-olds (well, all ages for that matter), Roger Staubach was unable to move his team into field goal range with less than two minutes left. Dallas faced a 3rd and 10 from its own 33. Staubach tried to complete what looked like a screen pass, but it went to guard Herbert Scott. On 4th and 20, Staubach’s attempt to hit Drew Pearson failed. That marked the end of the Staubach era in Dallas.
Here’s a clip showing Staubach’s final drive:
The conference championship games next weekend will feature two NFC teams that beat the Cowboys in 2010 along with two AFC teams that the Cowboys would like to emulate. In fact, each of the eight teams that played this weekend have characteristics that would certainly help the Cowboys in their rebuilding process for next year. Here are some comparisons with each of these teams, focusing mostly on what the playoff teams have that the Cowboys didn’t.
2010: Finished 12-4. Lost to Pittsburgh in the divisional round.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Leadership. The Ravens have an impressive head coach in John Harbaugh along with strong leadership in linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed, and quarterback Joe Flacco. Keith Brooking and Bradie James don’t have the same influence on defense, and the Cowboys appeared to have a better leader in Jon Kitna than Tony Romo.
Interesting Note: The Ravens pursued Dallas head coach Jason Garrett before the 2008 season before deciding to hire Harbaugh.
2010: Finished 13-3 and had the top seed in the NFC. Lost to Green Bay in the divisional round.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Consistency. The Falcons went on an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the season. While Atlanta didn’t blow opponents out, the team played solid on both sides of the ball. The Falcons ranked fifth in points scored and fifth in points allowed. The Cowboys were better at giving up points they they were at scoring points on offense.
Interesting Note: Atlanta became the third #1 seed in the past four NFC playoffs to lose in the divisional round. Like the Falcons, the Cowboys went 13-3 and gained home-field advantage in 2007 but lost in the divisional round to a wildcard team.
2010: Became the first NFL team to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record. Lost to the Bears in the divisional round.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Home field advantage and a weak division. Seattle is one of the toughest places to play, evidenced by the Seahawks’ win over the Saints in the wildcard round. Of course, it helps when division rivals include St. Louis and San Francisco. Dallas only managed a home record of 2-6.
Interesting Note: In 1999, the Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record but still managed to make the playoffs thanks to a very weak conference.
New England Patriots
2010: Finished 14-2 and had the best record in football. Lost to the Jets in the divisional round.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Tom Brady and an ability to get the most out of their other talent. Until the playoff loss tonight, Brady was nearly perfect this season. And he accomplished one of his best seasons as a pro with a cast of nameless characters. By comparison, Tony Romo hardly makes others around him appear better (except maybe Miles Austin), given that the team’s offensive performance didn’t suffer badly when Romo was injured.
Interesting Note: The Patriots took tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second round of last year’s draft. He finished with 42 receptions for 561 yards and 10 TDs. Dallas picked up Rob’s brother, Chris, as a free agent rookie. Chris missed a block on New York’s Michael Boley, who broke Tony Romo’s collarbone on a hit.
2010: Finished 12-4 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the third time in six years.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Solid decision-making by the franchise. No, Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t make good decisions sometimes, but even when he missed the first four games of the season, the Steelers still went 3-1. The Steelers constantly lose big names via free agency, etc. (Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, just to name a couple), but the team always finds replacements. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have found ways to screw up entire drafts.
Interesting Note: Rashard Mendenhall has 2439 yards with 20 touchdowns in three seasons. He has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. The Cowboys passed on him to take Felix Jones, who has 1751 yards with 7 touchdowns during the same three-year period.
Green Bay Packers
2010: Finished 10-6 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in four years.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Strong quarterback play, a complete receiving corps, solid play from a 3-4 defense, and an ability to bounce back from injuries. If an opponent shut down Greg Jennings, someone else—Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson—tended to step up. There were times in 2010 that the Packers didn’t look as if they would make the playoffs, but they got hot at just the right time. The Cowboys were supposed to have just as many weapons, but these weapons often failed to show up .
Interesting Note: The Cowboys wanted to add Dom Capers after their miserable 2008 season. Capers instead went to Green Bay. The result: Green Bay finished second in the league in points allowed in 2010. Dallas finished 31st.
2010: Finished 11-5 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Overachievement when little is expected of them. The Bears weren’t much better than mediocre since making the Super Bowl in 2006. Lovie Smith appeared to be on shaky ground, and the team turned to somewhat controversial offensive coordinator Mike Martz to revive the offense. With many predicting that the Packers and Vikings would battle for the division title, nobody expected much from Chicago. The Bears are now one game away from their second Super Bowl appearance in four years. Meanwhile, Dallas has frequently been considered a Super Bowl contender in the last five years, but these great expectations have just made the team crash and burn.
Interesting Note: The Cowboys were 8.5-point favorites to beat Chicago at Cowboys Stadium in week 2. Dallas lost, of course, and the Bears are one game away from visiting Cowboys Stadium once again this year.
2010: Finished 11-5 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game
What They Have That the Cowboys Didn’t: Grit. The Jets have talent, to be sure, but they are better described as a rugged group that has found ways to win in the playoffs during the past two seasons. The Cowboys are frequently called gutless by fans and media and have found ways to lose games they should have won.
Interesting Note: The Cowboys appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks and followed it with a disappointing campaign in 2008. The Jets appeared on the show this year, and though New York had some trouble during the regular season, the team continued to bounce back from adversity. Perhaps it is not surprising that the Cowboys have pursued Rex Ryan’s brother to serve as defensive coordinator.
If I asked for the most infamous moment in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, what comes to mind?
Perhaps it’s Terrell Owens dancing on the star in 2000?
Perhaps it’s the Bounty Bowl in 1989 against Buddy Ryan and the Philadelphia Eagles?
There have been other incidents, to be sure, but those two certainly stand out.
Of course, Dallas showed it contempt for Owens by signing him as a free agent before the 2006 season.
Now, Dallas is trying to finalize a deal to bring Buddy’s son, Rob, to become defensive coordinator.
Part of me thinks this would have been like Bum Bright hiring George Allen as an consultant during the bad times of the 1980s. Or Michael Irvin speaking on behalf of Philadelphia fans about their great sportsmanship.
Of course, things could be worse. Like nearly every defensive performance in 2010.
In 2004, the Cowboys were coming off a 10-6 finish and a playoff appearance from the previous year. Bill Parcells had always run a 3-4 defense, but the 4-3 scheme that Mike Zimmer coached in ’03 ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed and second in points allowed. Thus, Parcells did not make the move to a 3-4.
The following year was a disaster on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas gave up 405 points, which was the most ever up to that point. Parcells had seen enough, and the team devoted the 2005 draft to finding players for a 3-4 scheme.
Since that time, the Cowboys have devoted draft picks not only on starters such as DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, but also on the likes of Kevin Burnett, Bobby Carpenter, Jason Williams, Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, and Sean Lee. Jay Ratliff and Marcus Spears have been starters on the defensive line since 2005, but the team’s other picks on the defensive line haven’t panned out.
Between 2005 and 2010, the team has had three seasons in which it ranked in the top 10 in terms of yards allowed. However, the team has ranked higher than 12th in points allowed only once.
The 2009 defense ranked second in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. It was the best defensive performance since 2003.
And then came the 2010 season. The results looked much like they did in 2004, except that the defense now has players who were higher draft picks and fewer excuses. With the Cowboys interviewing potential coordinators with backgrounds with the 3-4, it appears obvious that the team will stick with the scheme. It’s hard to remain sold on this scheme, though.
Here’s a comparison between 2004 and 2010 (NFL rank appears in parentheses):
|405 (27)||Points Allowed||436 (31)|
|220.1 (21)||Passing Yds. Allowed||243.4 (26)|
|31 (29)||TD Passes Allowed||33 (31)|
|13 (24)||Interceptions||20 (7)|
|33 (26)||Sacks||35 (17)|
|94.2 (27)||Opponent Passer Rating||92.8 (29)|
|110.2 (10)||Rushing Yds. Allowed||108.4 (12)|
|14 (20)||Rushing TDs Allowed||11 (12)|
The Indianapolis Colts tied the Cowboys’ NFL record for most consecutive seasons to make the playoffs. Dallas had set the record from 1975 to 1983.
The team’s records during this time period were quite similar. During three of the years for the Cowboys, the league only played a 14-game season. And during the 1982 season, teams only played nine regular season games because of the strike. While the Colts have the edge in overall record, Dallas had a better playoff mark.
Incidentally, like the 1983 Cowboys, the 2010 Colts lost at home in the first round of the playoffs.
Below are the numbers.
Dallas: 98-33 (0.748)
Indianapolis: 109-35 (0.757)
Super Bowl Appearances
Super Bowl Wins
Some Colts fans rightfully point out that Indianapolis accomplished all of this during the free agency period. On the other hand, fewer teams made the playoffs during the time that Dallas set the mark. Until 1978, only 4 teams per conference made the playoffs, and from after 1978, only 5 out of 14 teams made the playoffs. The Colts have played at a time when 6 out of 16 teams per conference make the playoffs.
I also think it’s a fair conclusion that NFC East during that time was generally stronger overall than the AFC South has been during the past nine seasons. During the time that Dallas continued to make the playoffs, the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants all became playoff teams; between 1978 and 1983, at least two teams in the NFC East made the playoffs. The Eagles made a Super Bowl appearance in 1980, and the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1982. The Colts’ competition in the AFC South consists of the Titans (four playoff appearances in nine years with five non-winning seasons), the Jaguars (two playoff appearances and three winning seasons in nine years), and the Texans (one winning season since 2002 and no playoff appearances).
Anyway, here are the complete records.
Dallas Cowboys, 1975-1983
|Off Rank||Def Rank|
Indianapolis Colts, 2002-2010
|Off Rank||Def Rank|
The last time the Cowboys had a shutdown corner was in the form of Deion Sanders, who left the team after the 1999 season. Since then, Dallas has devoted more than 15 draft picks on cornerbacks, and most of them have been busts.
We don’t need to review the performances of Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick, other than to say these three and their pathetic counterparts at safety are a big reason why the Cowboys’ record finally read 6-10.
News today is that Oakland Raiders’ cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will become a free agent because of a clause in his contract. By failing to meet certain incentives, his contract became void.
To achieve his incentives, Asomugha had to play in a greater number of defensive plays in 2010 than he did in 2009, and this season Asomugha played in only 14 games whereas he played in all 16 in 2009.
He also could have achieved his incentives by improving upon on his interceptions, fumble recoveries or sacks this season — but he didn’t have any interceptions, fumble recoveries or sacks this season.
The reason he failed to achieve those numbers is that nobody would throw in his direction. That is quite different than the case with the Cowboys, where opponents salivated over the opportunity to complete passes at will against any of the Dallas defensive backs.
As nearly everyone knows, Jason Garrett officially became the Cowboys’ permanent head coach on Thursday. Jerry Jones has apparently taken a few steps forward by announcing that Garrett has control over the hiring and firing of personnel. Jerry also said today that he would not put a player on the roster without first seeking approval from Garrett. Two good signs.
Then Garrett went and ruined the whole moving-forward sentiment by indicating he wants to return the team to its glory days of the 1990s.
Along with Tom Landry, Garrett is the second coach in team history who played professionally. He is the third coach to hail from the northeast; the other five coaches were raised in the south. Garrett is also among six coaches with prior experience as an NFL assistant.
Here’s a table showing a few of the facts about the eight head coaches. Garrett’s record includes his performance as an interim this year.
|Place of Origin||Texas||Texas||Arkansas||Georgia||Connecticut||New Jersey||Texas||Pennsylvania|
|College||Texas||Arkansas||Arkansas||Florida||Cent. Conn. St.||Wichita State||Houston||Princeton|
|Prior Experience, College Head Coach||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Nat’l Championship, College Coach||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Prior Experience, Assistant||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Super Bowl/NFL Titles as Assistant||1||0||0||0||3||0||0||0|
|Prior Experience, Head Coach||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Super Bowl Titles as Head Coach||2||2||1||0||0||2||0||0|
|Head Coaching Record in Dallas||250-162-6||44-36||40-24||18-14||15-33||34-30||34-22||5-3|
|Overall Head Coaching Record||250-162-6||80-64||40-24||22-26||15-33||172-130-1||82-61||5-3|
The Cowboys’ terrible performance in 2010 was stunning, and most would consider it to be the most disappointing in the franchise’s history. The focus of this post is whether the 2010 season has any competitors when it comes to most disappointing.
The Cowboys have had a losing record in 16 of 51 seasons. The team was obviously in building or rebuilding mode in several of these seasons, so expectations were low entering into the season. There have been other seasons in which Dallas was expected to make the playoffs, yet just missed after barely getting over the .500 mark.
The list below includes 21 seasons in which the Cowboys either had a losing record or were expected to make the playoffs but failed to qualify. Any season in which the team may have struggled but still made the playoffs (e.g., 1999, 2006) were excluded.
Some of these seasons simply don’t rank with the 2010 in terms of overall disappointment because nobody expected much at all from the team. The teams below didn’t make the “cut.”
1960: Dallas was an expansion team and didn’t even have the benefit of a draft. The 0-11-1 mark wasn’t quite what anyone expected, but it was hardly stunning.
1961: Same as 1960.
1962: Same as 1960 and 1961, except that the Cowboys had quite an explosive offense in ’62.
1964: After a disappointing 1963 campaign, the Cowboys continued to have trouble winning games. This could not have been a surprise.
1965: Thanks to a three-game winning streak, Dallas managed a .500 mark. It was not what the team expected, but Dallas played in the Playoff Bowl in 1965 thanks to its second-place finish in the Eastern Division.
1987: Most hoped that the Cowboys would return to the playoffs in 1987 after the losing record in 1986, but the 7-8 finish was hardly a big surprise.
1988: The Cowboys were a mix of over-the-hill veterans and a group of untalented youngsters. No surprise that a 3-13 season would result.
1989: Dallas had even less talent that the ’88 squad had.
1990: Nobody thought the Cowboys would be within a win of making the playoffs, so the 7-9 mark and the season as a whole were more positive than negative.
2001: The Quincy Carter experiment was not going to go well, and the results in the first season of this experiment were not surprising.
2002: This team was better than the ’00 and ’01 squads, but Dave Campo hadn’t proven himself a winner, and the 5-11 mark didn’t turn out to be a big surprise.
This leaves ten teams, which I’ve ranked as follows:
10. 2005 Season (9-7, 3rd place in the NFC East)
The hype: There was no way that a Bill Parcells team would miss the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. Dallas had a good draft and a better quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. This team was ready to take a few steps forward.
The result: After a 7-3 start, the team only managed two more wins. The Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs before they took the field in week 17, and the team promptly lost to the lowly Rams.
Why it was not more disappointing: Dallas fans had endured three 5-11 seasons from ’00 to ’02, along with a 6-10 mark in ’04. A 9-7 record was actually an improvement.
9. 1984 Season (9-7, 2nd place in the NFC East)
The hype: QB Gary Hogeboom was the answer. He would deliver what Danny White couldn’t.
The result: The Cowboys started 4-3 and limped their way to a 9-7 even after White returned to the starting lineup.
Why it was not more disappointing: The team missed the playoffs, but after three consecutive losses in NFC title games from ’80 to ’82, along with a bad end to the 1983 season, it wasn’t entirely shocking that the team took a step back.
8. 1963 Season (4-10, 5th place in the NFC East)
The hype: The Cowboys made the cover of Sports Illustrated as the favorites to win the Eastern Division.
The result: The team regressed from its 5-8-1 mark the year before by going 4-10. Dallas only managed one win in its first seven games.
Why it was not more disappointing: The franchise had not yet done anything, so another losing season could hardly have been a shock.
7. 2000 Season (5-11, 4th place in the NFC East)
The hype: The Cowboys had lost Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, but they had gained Joey Galloway and still had Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
The result: Aikman was booed for much of the season, and the team never recovered from an opening-game loss to the Eagles.
Why it was not more disappointing: The Cowboys had an awful draft in 2000, and the team had not replaced its departed stars during the previous several seasons.
6. 2004 Season (6-10, 2nd place in the NFC East)
The hype: The Cowboys were going to go further in the playoffs now that Bill Parcells had turned everything around.
The result: The team cut Quincy Carter in the preseason and relied on Vinny Testaverde to lead the way. After six losses in seven games during the middle of the season, Dallas stood at 3-7.
Why it was not more disappointing: Nobody thought the team would have to rely on Testaverde, and the team’s schedule was more difficult than it was in 2003.
5. 1974 Season (8-6, 3rd place in the NFC East)
The hype: The team had reached the NFC title game in ’72 and ’73, and most of the main stars were returning.
The result: The Cowboys never overcame a 1-4 start, and even winning seven games in eight weeks wasn’t enough to lead to a playoff berth.
Why it was not more disappointing: Most remember the ’74 season for Clint Longley’s heroics on Thanksgiving, and the real disappointment was the poor start. Dallas rebounded in the second half of the season and ended up making the Super Bowl the next year.
4. 1986 Season (7-9, 3rd place in the NFC East)
The hype: Dallas brought in some talent with Herschel Walker and rookie Mike Sherrard. The team’s 6-2 start was enough for a tie for the division lead after eight games.
The result:Danny White broke his wrist. Steve Pelleur wasn’t the answer. The 6-2 start turned into a 7-9 nightmare, marking the team’s first losing record in 22 years.
Why it was not more disappointing: The talent base had eroded by 1986, and the team lacked a proven backup after the Cowboys traded Gary Hogeboom.
3. 1997 Season (6-10, 4th place in the NFC East)
The hype: The Cowboys were ready to reclaim their spot among the NFL’s best now that the distractions of 1996 were gone.
The result: The team never came together and struggled to stay above the .500 mark. Dallas stood at 6-5 after week 12, but a loss to the Packers started a five-game skid. This year marked the end of the Dallas dynasty of the 1990s.
Why it was not more disappointing: The team had been imploding for some time after winning Super Bowl XXX, so the result was disappointing but not entirely surprising.
2. 2008 Season (9-7, 3rd place in the NFC East)
The hype: The team would rebound from its devastating loss to the Giants in the 2007 playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.
The result: Dallas had a 3-0 record after three weeks and an 8-4 record after 12 games, but the team lacked the firepower it had in 2007. The Cowboys lost three of four to end the season, including a defeat to the Ravens in the last game at Texas Stadium and 44-6 humiliation to the Eagles in the season finale with a playoff berth on the line.
Why it was not more disappointing: The Cowboys had gone 9-7 in ’05 and ’06, and the team never looked like the 13-3 squad in ’08.
1. 2010 Season (6-10, 3rd place in the NFC East)
The hype: The Cowboys had finally turned the corner by winning a playoff game in 2009. The team was ready to compete for the NFC title.
The result: The Cowboys lost to Washington in week 1 and never recovered. After week 9, Dallas was 1-7 and heading nowhere. A 5-3 finish was respectable, but the squad’s defense was still among the league’s worst.
Why it is the more disappointing: The Cowboys had some (perhaps unrealistic) Super Bowl hopes in ’74, ’86, ’97, and ’08, but none of those teams completely collapsed the way the ’10 team did.