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The Dallas Cowboys are just below the middle of the pack regarding their odds to win Super Bowl XLIX.
Below is a list of all teams. Predictably, most oddsmakers think the Seahawks and Broncos will play again.
Denver Broncos 13/2
Seattle Seahawks 13/2
San Francisco 49ers 7/1
New England Patriots 9/1
Green Bay Packers 11/1
New Orleans Saints 14/1
Chicago Bears 16/1
Indianapolis Colts 16/1
Philadelphia Eagles 25/1
Atlanta Falcons 33/1
Carolina Panthers 33/1
Detroit Lions 33/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 33/1
Arizona Cardinals 40/1
Baltimore Ravens 40/1
Cincinnati Bengals 40/1
New York Giants 40/1
San Diego Chargers 40/1
Dallas Cowboys 50/1
Kansas City Chiefs 50/1
Miami Dolphins 50/1
St. Louis Rams 50/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 50/1
Washington Redskins 50/1
Cleveland Browns 66/1
Houston Texans 66/1
New York Jets 66/1
Buffalo Bills 75/1
Minnesota Vikings 75/1
Oakland Raiders 100/1
Tennessee Titans 100/1
Jacksonville Jaguars 200/1
The Cowboys’ chances of winning the NFC are 26 to 1. Dallas shares those odds with the Giants, Rams, and Lions.
The Seahawks are 16/5 favorites to win the NFC title, while San Francisco’s odds are 21/5.
The Dallas Cowboys faced the Green Bay Packers in three consecutive NFC playoffs during the 1990s and won all three. Here is an animated GIF from one of those games.
At the time, this was the longest TD reception in NFL playoff history. Here are some questions about the game and that play.
(1) Who was on the receiving end of this touchdown pass from Troy Aikman?
(2) The play was a 94-yard touchdown. Who later broke this record?
(3) The receiver in the GIF signed with another team the following year. Which team?
(4) Which Dallas running back scored two touchdowns in this win?
Here’s an animated GIF from a game between the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. Some trivia question are below the image.
Here are the questions:
(1) What was the significance of this game?
(2) Who was the New England quarterback?
(3) True or false: The Cowboys did not lose another game during the season in question after beating the Patriots.
The 2013 marks just the fourth time in franchise history that the Cowboys have begun a season at 7-7. The three previous seasons were 1965, 1986, and 1999.
None of those seasons was memorable. However, each was noteworthy in the context of franchise history, as may the 2013 season. Below are some comparisons.
What happened in 1965? Dallas had suffered through five straight losing seasons and began the 1965 season with a 4-7 record. The worst loss was a 34-31 defeat to the Washington Redskins in a game where the Cowboys led 24-6 in the third quarter and 31-20 in the fourth quarter. However, Dallas did not lose another game during the regular season and finished with a non-losing record for the first time in franchise history.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys became contenders one year later, going 10-3-1 and facing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game. Dallas would not suffer through a losing season for another 20 years.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1965 Cowboys? The 1965 squad featured a strong core of younger players reaching their prime. This group included Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, and so forth. The 2013 squad has young talent as well in the form of Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, and so forth. The team suffered through bad losses similar to the defeat to the Redskins in 1965, but the current Cowboys usually display resiliency.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1965 Cowboys? By 1965, Gil Brandt had begun to set himself apart among other head scouts. The 1964 draft for the Cowboys was one of the very best in franchise history, and the direct result was the team’s immediate improvement. In contrast, the Cowboys have had some mediocre-to-poor drafts during the past several seasons. Lee and Bruce Carter are frequently injured, and Bryant has not shown much leadership. Moreover, Jason Garrett has not proven he can manage a game effectively as a head coach, which is something Tom Landry started to prove after 1965. Hard to believe this current team would have 20 straight winning seasons.
The Cowboys technically made their first playoff appearance after the 1965 season, facing the Baltimore Colts in the Playoff Bowl. This game featured the second-place teams from each conference and was known as the Loser Bowl. Dallas lost 35-3.
What happened in 1986? The Cowboys began the 1986 season with a 6-2 record and looked like a playoff team. Then Danny White broke his wrist in a game against the Giants, and the Cowboys could only manage one win over their last eight games. The 7-9 record marked the first losing season for the franchise since 1964.
What happened in the seasons that followed? Two years later, the Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL. Tom Landry was fired in 1989 after the team posted a 3-13 record and Jerry Jones bought the team from Bum Bright.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1986 Cowboys? The 1986 Cowboys had star power in the form of Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Randy White, Danny White, and some other recognizable names. However, the team had drafted poorly for most of the 1980s, and the team simply had no depth at most positions. The current team has likewise suffered from poor drafting. Though the Cowboys have star players, they also lack depth in most key positions. The Cowboys do not have enough talent across the board to suffer losses at key positions. The injuries this year have contributed heavily to the team having the worst defense in franchise history.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1986 Cowboys? The Cowboys have more young talent than the 1986 team had. The Cowboys lost receiver Mike Sherrard to serious injuries in 1987 and 1988, and the team had to start over again at the receiver spot. The lone star by 1988 was Walker. The current team has Bryant and Murray along with some other talented skills players. Moreover, the current team operates during the free-agent era, whereas the league did not have Plan B free agency until 1989. The Cowboys could find free agent talent to replace aging or injured stars faster than the team of the late 1980s could.
My opinion: the best thing to happen to Jerry Jones would be the worst thing to happen to Cowboys’ fans, and that would be a disastrous season (like the 3-13 season of 1988). Why? Because Jerry would have little choice but to accept that the way he has operated the franchise is not going to lead to another Super Bowl appearance in the foreseeable future.
What happened in 1999? The Cowboys jumped out of the gate with a 3-0 start. However, once the Cowboys lost Michael Irvin to a career-ending neck injury, the team struggled. Dallas led in every game of the season but could only manage an 8-8 finish. The team luckily made it into the playoffs but lost to Minnesota in a forgettable game.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys suffered through salary-cap hell along with some bad personnel decisions. Head coach Dave Campo saw his team record three consecutive 5-11 seasons between 2000 and 2002.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1999 Cowboys? The current team has suffered from being in salary-cap hell and bad personnel decisions. Even dedicated fans would have a difficult time naming the guys playing defense in 2013, and the Cowboys will have limited ability to address weaknesses on defense because of more cap problems in 2014. Falling from 8-8 to 5-11 is not hard to imagine.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1999 Cowboys? In 1999, Jerry was still hanging on to the idea that the franchise could return to glory with just a few missing pieces, such as a good second receiver or a good defensive end. The cornerstones of the dynasty, though, had little left in the tank, and once they were gone, the team had to start over again. The current squad is not in such a dire position. Tony Romo is playing better now than Troy Aikman was in 1999 and 2000. The team might lose DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, along with some others, over the next couple of years, but it does not appear the team will face such a precipitous drop in talent that the team experienced in 2000 and 2001.
The Dallas Cowboys still control their own destiny and will make the playoffs by winning their final two games.
Few teams in league history have be less deserving if the Cowboys do this. We can go through all the four-letter words and longer words and phrases while describing this team, but we’ve said all these words and phrases before.
The short story: the Cowboys sprinted to a 26-3 first-half lead. The Cowboys were running the ball well. The Packers showed no ability to stop the run. So the Cowboys decided to throw.
And throw. And throw. And throw.
The 26-3 lead disappeared. Tony Romo threw two critical interceptions late in the game, and the Packers surged ahead and won the game.
This is the same basic team as the one that took a 27-3 lead over the Detroit Lions on October 2, 2011, only to allow the Lions back into the game by throwing and throwing and throwing.
That’s throwing picks, as in two interceptions of Tony Romo that were returned for touchdowns to allowed the Lions back into the game.
There have been other absolutely pathetic losses during the Garrett tenure, with the loss to the Lions in 2011 being the worst.
The Cowboys’ defense in 2013 is much worse than then defense of 2011. The Cowboys needed to hold on to the ball at all costs, because this defense cannot stop anyone. Whether the Green Bay quarterback was Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, a 79-year-old Bart Starr, a deceased Curly Lambeau, or any two- or four-legged animal, the Cowboys defense cannot stop anyone.
So when Flynn started hitting anyone he wanted, it came as no surprise. When the Cowboys could not stop Eddie Lacy, it came as no surprise. Any positives from the first-half were a distant memory by the beginning of the fourth quarter.
There are so many reasons for this debacle—injuries on defense, general incompetence on defense, play-calling on offense, Romo’s decision-making, Gene Jones’ selection of “Blue Field Explosions” inside AT&T Stadium (some sort of giant wall drawing; I just looked it up)—that nothing can really explain this debacle.
I won’t try.
* * *
The Cowboys could have wrapped up the NFC East by beating the Packers and Redskins and hoping for an Eagles’ loss to Bears. The Bears-Eagles game will matter only if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins. If the Cowboys win, the season finale against the Eagles is for all the marbles.
I’ll watch, even if I am quite sure I don’t want to watch any of this.
The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1966 NFL Championship Game by a final score of 34-27. The Cowboys were in position to tie the game at 34 near the end of regulation.
Facing a 4th-and-goal from the Green Bay 2, Don Meredith tried to complete a touchdown pass on a rollout play, but the Packers’ Dave Robinson got to Meredith before the Dallas QB could find an open man. Meredith was able to get a pass off in Bob Hayes’ general direction, but Tom Brown intercepted the pass to secure the Green Bay win.
The Cowboys originally had the ball at the 2 on their final drive because of a pass interference call. The team lost 5 yards because of a false-start penalty, setting up a 3rd-and-goal from the 6. The Cowboys moved back to the 2 on the third-down play.
Trivia question, answered in the puzzle below: who caught the pass on third down to set up the 4th-and-goal play from the 2?
This blog will turn seven years old next August. One feature I originally included was the Most Obscure Player Award for each season in franchise history for Rest Easily. I made it through the 1960s but never finished the series.
This has not been an interesting offseason from my perspective, so I am going to finish the old series. To kick this off, here is a list of the first five award winners:
1960: Dave Sherer
Dallas picked up Sherer in the 1960 expansion draft. One would think a punter for an 0-11-1 team would have quite a bit to do, and he came through with a 42.5 yard average on 57 punts. Not bad, except that this was his last year in the league. Allen Green took over the punting duties in 1961. Sherer was more of a legend in his home state of New Mexico than in Dallas, and his notoriety in New Mexico was enough to give him the award in the end. He is not only a member of the Carlsbad High School Hall of Fame, he ranked 47th on Sports Illustrated’s list of New Mexico’s greatest sports legends. (If it helps put this into context, Dewey Bohling ranked 46th).
1961: Don Bishop
Bishop played end for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, catching three passes for 57 yards. In two years with Pittsburgh and the Chicago Bears, those three catches, along with four punt returns, remained his only professional statistics. Dallas picked him off of waivers in 1960, and he started at right cornerback for the team in its inaugural year.
In 1961, Bishop began to stand out, grabbing eight picks. Only Everson Walls (twice) and Mel Renfro had more in a season. Moreover, and probably the reason we are honoring him here, Bishop established a team record with interceptions in five consecutive games in 1961. He led the team in picks from 1960 to 1962 (those three years are also a team record), and finished his career with 22, ranking tenth on the team.
1962: Mike Gaechter
The winner of the MOP Award for 1962 was actually a Pro Bowl player, but he was overshadowed by other defensive backs such as Mel Renfro. Mike Gaechter had 21 interceptions during his eight-year career that spanned from 1962 to 1969. But it was two factors that gave him enough of an edge to win the coveted title.
Gaechter started strong as a rookie free agent with the Cowboys in 1962. He had five interceptions that season, and had at least two picks in seven of his eight seasons. In 1962, during a week five thrashing of Philadelphia (which Dallas won 41-19), Gaechter and teammate Amos Marsh achieved a feat unrivaled in NFL history. They both had 100 yard returns not only in the same game, but also in the same quarter.
In addition to that distinction, and the real reason he wins the MOP Award, is that he made the Clark College Track and Field Honor Roll.
1963: Billy Howton
In seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers during the 1950s, he had two seasons with 1000 yards receiving. In fact, he is one of three players who reached 1000 yards by the 11th game of their rookie season. The Cowboys picked him up for the 1960 season, and he turned in four solid seasons. In his final game, a 28-24 win by Dallas over the St. Louis Cardinals, he caught a 48-yard pass that set up a score near the end of the game.
More importantly, Howton became the NFL’s all-time leading receiver in 1963, with 503 receptions for 8459 yards. If his stuff is good enough to be listed as a hidden treasure by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is good enough to make it as a MOP Award winner.
1964: Buddy Dial
The MOP Award for 1964 goes to receiver Buddy Dial, who played with the Cowboys from 1964 through 1966 after being traded from the Steelers. In 1963, Dial made the Pro Bowl after hauling in 60 receptions for 1295 yards. He was injured early in the 1964 season and managed only 11 receptions for 178 yards. He was never very productive in Dallas, catching only 42 passes in three years. Congratulations, retrospectively.
Here’s the story of the team’s season finale in 1964, when Dial caught several key passes in a 17-14 win over Dial’s former team, the Steelers:
Remember now that when the Steelers traded Dial to Dallas it was with the understanding they would sign No. 1 draft choice Paul Martha as his replacement. Martha was no sooner signed than Dial was injured, infrequently to be heard of since except on Saturday afternoon television.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in the season, Dial came back to punish the Steelers.
Dallas was clinging to a 10-7 lead and losing momentum in the fourth quarter when Lee Folkins dribbled a 17-yard punt and this time the ball hit him as though he were a pin ball cushion, banking straight to the hands of Dallas’ Mike Connelly on the Dallas 48.
With this break of gigantic magnitude the Cowboys started losing ground. On third down, needing 17 from the Pittsburgh 49, Meredith skittered out of a big rush, laid the ball for Dial who was blanketed by Pittsburgh’s Brady Keys.
Dial somehow got his hands on the ball, he and Keys fell in a heap and Dial retrieved the ball with one palm, flat on his back, Keys swinging wildly.
That placed the ball on Pittsburgh’s 28. Meredith hit Dial across the middle for another 18, limped away from a Steeler rush for another nine, and Perry Lee Dunn, who did a determined job all afternoon, pushed it over from the 3 for the touchdown which made it 17-7.
Dial is known to students of labor law and sports law for his role in Dial v. NFL Player Supplemental Disability Plan, a case where Dial’s ex-wife sued for half of the benefits awarded to Dial in the NFL’s 1993 collective bargaining agreement. He is a member the College Football Hall of Fame and has the second highest career yards-per-catch average (20.83) in the history of the NFL. The record is held by Homer Jones, the player who invented the spike.
Sunday afternoon. Half of the ESPN
commentators picked Green Bay to win, while everyone at the Dallas Morning
News other than Rick Gooselin picked Dallas. The simulations have favored the
Cowboys, though the game will be close if these predictions come true.
Dallas 27, Green Bay 25
The Cowboys have won 56% of Accuscore’s simulations by an average score of
27-25. The Dallas pass rush may be the difference in whether the Cowboys can win
their fifth straight.
Aaron Rodgers will need to withstand the Cowboys pass rush for Green Bay
to win. He is getting sacked more than 4 times per simulation and if the
Cowboys sack him 5+ times the Packers only have a 40 percent chance of
winning. If Rodgers is sacked no more than 3 times the Packers are 70
percent favorites. The Packers also need to contain the Cowboys running
game. If Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice average 5+ yards per
carry the Cowboys are 69 percent favorites. The Packers secondary will need
to get Tony Romo to throw at least 1 INT. If Romo does not throw an INT
Dallas is the 62 percent favorite, but if Romo throws 1+ INT the Packers are
the 63 percent favorite.
WhatIfSports: Dallas 28, Green Bay 22
The Cowboys won a higher percentage of the simulations on WhatIfSports,
taking nearly 70% of the matchups. Tony Romo averaged only 212.9 yards in the
simulations, but the running game was generally strong.
Madden Simulation: Dallas 26, Green Bay 14
The Cowboys were more dominant in ESPN’s simulation of the game, as Dallas
Talk about two teams that appear to be headed in completely opposite
directions. And just think, it seemed like only a few weeks ago people were
talking about the demise of Dallas and the playoff prospects of the Packers.
Now the field has flipped and it’s Dallas who looks headed to bigger and
better things this season as they take out Green Bay 26-14.
Tony Romo continues to impress, throwing for 320 yards and three
touchdowns, including another touchdown to his new favorite wide out, Miles
Austin. Jason Witten also came up big for Dallas, catching nine passes for
103 yards and a score.
Things aren’t looking good for Green Bay, as Aaron Rodgers faced
relentless pressure from the Dallas D, throwing an interception and fumbling
twice in the loss.
My Guess (6-2 based on win-loss)
For two straight weeks my guess was pretty close.
Last week‘s prediction:
I am not drinking the Cowboys kool-aid just yet, but I think the Cowboys
will overcome a shaky first half and storm back in the second half. Dallas
will use all three running backs on offense, and the Dallas defense will
make some adjustments to hold Philadelphia in check. Final score:
* * *
Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17
The first half wasn’t really very shaky, but the first drive of the second
half for the Dallas defense was shaky. In the end, the Cowboys managed a
four-point win, 20-16. My tally this year:
Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24
(actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)
Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas
14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)
Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21
(actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)
Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14
(actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)
Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City
14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)
Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17
(actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)
Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17
(actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)
Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia
17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)
As for Sunday’s game, I think
Dallas will do well. The Packers can be a dangerous team, but their confidence
seemed shaken after the loss to the Vikings two weeks ago. They were hardly
impressive in the loss to Tampa Bay last week. Dallas should bring a balanced
attack, taking advantage of
Aaron Kampman’s absence from the game. Final score:
31, Green Bay 20
This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.
NFL Films’ legendary narrator John Facenda may end up being best remembered for a line he never said in a highlight film: “On the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field . . . .” This phrase was, of course, made up by ESPN’s Chris Berman, but many associate the line with the 1967 Ice Bowl.
It turns out that Sports Illustrated opened its story about the 1967 NFL Championship Game with a similar phrase: “In the gelid confines of Lambeau Field, on the coldest New Year’s Eve in the cold history of Green Bay, the Green Bay Packers won the right last Sund to move south to Miami.”
Really, it isn’t tough to imagine Facenda’s voice reading that line.
The Dallas Morning News had some originality problems with its headlines the day after the Ice Bowl. One headline of a story written by Kent Biffle read:
C-C-Cowboys F-F-Frozen Out
The headline of a column by Sam Blair in the same issue:
W-W-What a D-D-Day!
Perhaps the best line was written by Bob St. John on January 2, 1968:
There was an unusually high mortality rate on television sets in Dallas Sunday . . . shoes and beer cans in picture tubes and the like.
So Long to Some Founding Members
The Ice Bowl turned out to be the last game that two original Cowboys played in a Dallas uniform.
WR/TE Frank Clarke: Clarke only caught nine passes in 1967, but he saw action against Green Bay in the title game. He retired after the 1967 season. He finished his career in Dallas with 281 receptions for 5214 yards and 50 touchdowns, all team records at the time.
C Mike Connelly: Connelly was an undersized center who played with the Cowboys from 1960 to 1967. He filled in for an injured Dave Manders in 1967, but was then traded to Pittsburgh before the 1968 season.
With the departures of Clarke and Connelly, Don Meredith remained the only original Cowboy (Don Perkins did not play in 1960, so most do not include him as an original member of the team).
For three significant members of the 1960s Cowboys– Don Meredith, Don Perkins, and Frank Clarke– the 1967 Ice Bowl was the closest the team would get to an NFL title during their playing careers.
Like the 1966 title game, Green Bay jumped out to a 14-0 first half lead thanks to two touchdowns from Bart Starr to Boyd Dowler. But a touchdown off a fumble recovery by George Andrie in the second quarter, along with a Danny Villanueva field goal, brought the Cowboys back.
In the third quarter, Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard touchdown pass on a halfback pass to Lance Rentzel, giving Dallas a 17-14 lead. As the teams struggled to move the ball in the awful conditions, the Dallas lead held until the final drive of the game.
With about five minutes left to play, Villanueva punted to Willie Wood, who returned the ball to the Green Bay 32. The final 4:54 belonged to the Packers:
1-10-32 GB (4:54): Bart Start passes to Donny Anderson in the right flat for six yards.
2-4-38 GB (4:27): Chuck Mercein runs off the right end for 7.
1-10-45 GB (3:57): Starr hits Dowler down the middle for 13.
1-10-42 Dal (3:30): Anderson loses 9 trying to run right. Willie Townes broke through the line to make a great tackle in the backfield (see photo below)
2-19-49 GB (2:52): Starr passes right to Anderson for 12.
3-7-39 Dal (2:00): Starr passes right to Anderson for 9.
1-10-30 Dal (1:35): Starr passes to Mercein on the left for 19.
1-10-11 Dal (1:11): Mercein rushes up the middle for 8.
2-2-3 Dal (0:54): Anderson runs right for 2.
1-Goal-1 Dal (0:30): Anderson runs up the middle for no gain.
2-Goal-1 Dal (0:20): Anderson runs up the middle for no gain.
3-Goal-1 Dal (0:16): Starr runs a quarterback sneak for 1. Touchdown.
The Packers were already the dynasty of the 1960s, but the image of Starr falling behind Jerry Kramer remains one of the great images in NFL history. There are a bunch of highlight clips of this game, including the one below:
(Thanks to Fred Goodwin for pointing this out some time ago on this blog): In his book, When All the Laughter Died in Sorrow, Dallas receiver Lance Rentzel notes that he may have caught a touchdown pass in the final seconds if he hadn’t slowed up on a streak route. Dallas started on its own 20 with 13 second left to play.
We got the ball again after the kickoff. There were still a few seconds left. Don called for Hayes and me to run a streak pattern, even though they would definitely be expecting it, but we had to try it. I lined up thinking that he would be looking for Bob first, and as I approached Herb Adderley, I hesitated for an instant, cutting my stride ever so slightly. I wasn’t loafing, but I didn’t really drive by him the way I could have, because I already had him beaten. Then I looked back and saw that Don had thrown it to me, not Hayes. The ball was a yard beyond my reach. I had cost myself at least a couple of feet all because I’d broken stride, all because I hadn’t fully concentrated. I might have caught the ball, and if I had, I probably would have gone the whole way. I’ll never know if anyone else was close enough to catch me, there were still fifty yards to the goal, but I had Adderley beat. I could have won that game on the last play.
Maybe, maybe not. Below is a shot of the play, just as the ball landed out of Rentzel’s reach.
Rentzel was near the Green Bay 40, not the 50. Green Bay’s #40 in this shot is strong safety Tom Brown, who appears to have the angle on Rentzel, though it is tough to say whether Brown would have been in a good position had Rentzel been a step or two further downfield. Number 24 is Willie Wood, who was fast as anything, so he may also have caught Rentzel.
Some other stories of the game:
Paradise Lost Once Again for Cowboys In Final Seconds (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1968)
Box Score (Pro Football Reference)