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San Francisco 28, Dallas 17: Plenty of Shame to Go Around

One of the few highlights from Sunday was Dwayne Harris's 56-yard reception, which set up a Dallas touchdown.

One of the few highlights from Sunday was Dwayne Harris’s 56-yard reception, which set up a Dallas touchdown.

The Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 season was 43 seconds old when they fell behind for the first time against San Francisco on Sunday.

The season was less than 10 minutes old when the 49ers easily drove 80 yards in 4 plays to score their second touchdown. At that point, San Francisco led 14-3.

The season was 10 minutes and 8 seconds old when Tony Romo threw his first interception of the year. One play later, the Cowboys were behind 21-3.

Romo threw two more interceptions in the second quarter.  The 49ers turned around after one of those picks and drove for another score.

It took less than 30 minutes to witness an implosion.

* * *

DeMarco Murray had a good game overall, rushing for 118 yards on 22 carries. However, San Francisco’s Chris Culliver returned Murray’s fumble on the opening drive of the game for a score.

When the Cowboys needed to rely on Murray, they didn’t.

The Cowboys had a 2nd and 1 from the 49er 2 on the Cowboys’ second drive of the game. Dallas tried a play-action pass, but Justin Smith sacked Romo for a nine-yard loss. Dallas settled for a field goal and trailed 7-3. The team would never get close tying the game after that.

Romo threw all three of his interceptions into double coverage. The second of the two occurred when Dallas, while trailing 21-3, moved the ball to the 49er 5 and had a first and goal.

Run Murray? Oh, of course not. Romo rolled to his right, did not see a wide open Dwayne Harris, and threw a lob pass into a group of 49er defenders. Patrick Willis picked off the pass in the end zone, and Dallas did not score again in the first half.

Romo threw one more interception after trying to force the ball into double coverage. San Francisco again moved downfield rather easily, scoring another touchdown with less than 40 seconds left.

* * *

Yes, the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the second half, but the game was not close. Dez Bryant left the game after apparently suffering dehydration. He was not much of factor before that.


The drubbing thrilled the crowd, which apparently consisted of more Niner fans than Cowboy fans. Not surprising, but still disappointing.

The Redskins lost to the Texans, but the Eagles came back to beat the Jaguars. The Cowboys are going to be in an uphill battle for the division. If today is any indication, battle is not the right word.

Simulations and Predictions All Favor 49ers

The Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Nearly all simulations and predictions favor the 49ers.

Cowboys vs. 49ers: Their First Meetings

Don McIlhenny picks up a short gain in a 16-10 loss to San Francisco during the preseason on August 6, 1960.

Don McIlhenny picks up a short gain in a 16-10 loss to San Francisco during the preseason on August 6, 1960.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers will face one another for the 34th time, including playoffs, since 1960 on September 7. It will mark the first time since 2011 that the teams have played.

The rivalry dates back to the Cowboys’ inaugural season of 1960. In fact, the 49ers were the first team the Cowboys ever played during preseason. On a hot afternoon in Seattle on August 6, 1960, the Cowboys fell just short of a win. Trailing 16-10 late in the game, Dallas took over the ball at its own 37. Eddie LeBaron moved the team to the San Francisco 28 with about a minute left. However, Dave Baker picked off a LeBaron pass to end the drive and secure the win for San Francisco.

More than three months later, the teams played again during the regular season at the Cotton Bowl. LeBaron struggled in the contest, throwing three interceptions. However, his 76-yard touchdown pass to Frank Clarke early in the fourth quarter gave Dallas a 14-9 lead.

Nevertheless, the 49ers roared back and scored 17 unanswered points to win the game 26-14.

Dallas secured its first win over the 49ers on November 7, 1965.

During regular season matchups, Dallas has a 11-14-1 record against San Francisco. The Cowboys’ playoff record against the 49ers is 5-2. Thus, both teams are 16-16-1 in combined regular season and playoff games.

Dallas vs. San Francisco, When the Cowboys Were Defending Super Bowl Champions

NFC Championship Game logo, 2001–2005

Foreign territory for the modern Dallas Cowboys.

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their third consecutive appearance in the NFC Championship Game.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys have done a whole bunch of nothing since losing to the Eagles to end the season. Pretty good chance we will continue to see a whole bunch of nothing.

My prediction on Facebook:


Anyway, for lack of anything else to discuss at the moment, here is a video from 1996 on ESPN’s Primetime showing the Cowboys’ 20-17 win over the 49ers. The win improved the Cowboys’ record to 6-4 in a season where Dallas pulled out another NFC East title.

Ah, memories. Distant, distant memories.

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“The Catch” Is Still a Sickening Sight

This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

The Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to win the 1981 NFC Championship game, though what most people remember is Joe Montana hitting Dwight Clark in the right corner of the end zone with 51 seconds left in the game. The touchdown capped off an 89-yard drive and gave San Francisco a 28-27 lead.

Care to watch?

Danny White’s opportunity to develop any sort of legacy died on the Cowboys’ last possession. White hit Drew Pearson on a 31-yard pass that gave Dallas the ball at the San Francisco 45. It turned out to be Pearson’s only reception of the game, but he nearly pulled out another Hail Mary. Had Eric Wright not grabbed a piece of Pearson’s jersey, Peason likely would have scored.

On the next play, White was stripped by backup defensive end Lawrence Pillars. Lineman Jim Stuckey recovered, securing the win for the 49ers.

It is easy to forget that White put the Cowboys in position to win the game. His 21-yard touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie was the second TD pass of the game and gave Dallas the 27-21 lead four minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Dallas defense forced six turnovers in the game (3 ints., 3 fumbles) but could not stop San Francisco on that last fateful 49er drive.

Dallas recovered in a sense, making the NFC Championship game yet again in 1982. However, the scars from this game did not heal until more than a decade later.

1960: Cowboys Face 49ers in First Preseason Game


This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

We have reached the 1981 season in the 50 Seasons Series, but we’ll return to the 1960 season briefly. In light of tonight’s game between the Cowboys and 49ers at Cowboys Stadium, here is a look at the first exhibition game in the history of the Cowboys.

August 6, 1960: San Francisco 16, Dallas 10 (exhibition game held in Seattle)

The 49ers were an aging team but still had talent left over from some quality teams of the 1950s. The Cowboys, of course, had never played any sort of game before.

Playing before 22,000 fans, the Cowboys kept the game close. The 49ers took a 9-0 lead in the first half thanks to a safety and a 99-yard touchdown drive.

Both teams were held scoreless during the third period. Early in the fourth, though, Dallas got on the board when Fred Cone kicked a 17-yard field goal. Thus (trivia alert), the first player to score a point for the Dallas franchise was Fred Cone.

San Franciso increased its lead to 16-3 after another long drive. But Dallas came back. Cornerback Tom Franckhauser intercepted a pass in Dallas territory. Two plays later, Eddie Lebaron found receiver Frank Clarke, who raced 56 yards for a touchdown. This play cut the 49er lead to 16-10.

Dallas had a chance late in the game, moving the ball to the San Francisco 28 with less than a minute left. However, Dave Baker of the 49ers intercepted a Lebaron pass to end the game.

Cowboy Defense Dominates the ’71 Playoffs

85346332.jpgTom Landry came to the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive genius, and it was his defense that led the team to the top of the mountain in 1971. In two NFC playoff games in 1971, the Doomsday Defense caused a total of eight turnovers, helping the Cowboys to earn a trip to Super Bowl VI.

In three games overall, the Cowboys only allowed one touchdown. And that one touchdown came late in the divisional round matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. In three playoff games, including Super Bowl VI, the Cowboys gave up a total of 18 points.

Here is a look at the two NFC playoff games.

Divisional Round, December 25, 1971: Dallas 20, Minnesota 12

U1725566.jpgThe temperature of the Dallas-Minnesota game was supposed to be around 10 degrees, bringing back memories of the Ice Bowl of 1967 (thus, the picture above of Mel Renfro and Bob Hayes). Instead, the game held on Christmas Day of 1971 was played when the temperature was a more balmy 30 degrees.

The Dallas offense managed only 183 total yards, but the offense did enough. The defense forced five Viking turnovers, including four interceptions. Dallas scored on a touchdown run by Duane Thomas and a touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Bob Hayes. The two touchdown broke open a 6-3 game in the third quarter. The Vikings managed a safety and a late touchdown, but the outcome was not in doubt at that point.

Tom Landry:

Our defense was super. It was the best defense we’ve
played all year. The statistics may not be real impressive but we got
ahead (20-3) and laid back a little and let them have the turn-ins and
stuff like that.

Box Score

DMN Summary

1971 NFC Championship Game, January 2, 1972: Dallas 14, San Francisco 3

85351542.jpgThe Cowboys gained 172 yards on the ground on 46 carries, and the defense was again impressive, as Dallas beat San Francisco for the second consecutive season in the NFC championship game. The Dallas Morning News described the game as “a day at the office.”

Roger Staubach only had 103 yards passing, but he led the team with 55 rushing yards.  Calvin Hill and  Duane Thomas scored the two touchdowns, which were all the Cowboys needed. The defense held the 49ers to 239 yards of offense and forced three San Francisco turnovers.

With the win, the Cowboys were set to take on the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl. Regarding the game, Bob St. John wrote:

This time the Super Bowl, what the NFL is all about these days, means
the Cowboys against the Miami Dolphins, a newcomer. These are the NFL’s
two glamour teams this season and it seems a fitting match.

Box Score

DMN Summary

Cowboys Earn Trip to Super Bowl V with 17-10 Win over 49ers


This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

In the first of six NFC Championship Games between the Cowboys and 49ers, Dallas earned its first trip to the Super Bowl by beating San Francisco 17-10 at old Kezar Stadium.

One key to the win was the Cowboys’ real strength: the Doomsday Defense. The Cowboys forced two key turnovers– interceptions by Lee Roy Jordan and Mel Renfro. Both resulted in Dallas touchdowns.

The second key was new in 1970: the running of Duane Thomas (as well as Walt Garrison). Thomas and Garrison combined for 214 rushing yards.

In the clip below, the teams were still tied 3-3 early in the second half. San Francisco quarterback John Brodie was sacked on the previous play and tried to throw again. Jordan came up with the pick, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

The Dallas Morning News said that the Jordan pick was the key play of the game.

On the next series for San Francisco, Renfro picked off a pass intended for Gene Washington. Dallas moved the ball 62 yards on the ensuing drive, thanks in part to a 49er pass interference penalty that moved the ball to the San Francisco 5. In the clip below, Craig Morton hit Garrison in the flat for a touchdown, giving Dallas a 17-3 lead.

Morton only completed 7 of 22 passes for 101 yards. However, he threw no interceptions. In three playoff games, the Cowboys managed a combined total of 225 passing yards.

Baltimore’s 27-17 win over Oakland set up the matchup for Super Bowl V in Miami.

More references:

Box Score (Pro Football Reference)

DMN: Cowboys Do It . . . In the Big One!

Odd Facts About Dallas Quarterbacks and the Cowboy-49er Game

On the radio broadcast of last week’s game against San Francisco, Babe Laufenberg noted that Tony Romo had the same record as a starter in his first 33 starts as both Roger Staubach and Danny White. After the win on Sunday, Romo still has the same record in his first 34 starts as those two quarterbacks. The other quarterbacks with at least 34 career starts had fewer wins than the trio of Romo, Staubach, and White. Here are the summaries:

Tony Romo

2006: 6-4 record
2007: 13-3 record
2008, first eight starts: 6-2 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Roger Staubach

1969: 1-0 record
1970: 2-1 record
1971: 10-0 record
1973: 10-4 record
1974, first six starts: 2-4 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Danny White

1978: 1-0 record
1980: 12-4 record
1981: 11-4 record
1982, first two starts: 1-1 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Others with at least 34 career starts:

Craig Morton: 23-10-1 overall record

Don Meredith: 13-18-3 overall record

Troy Aikman: 12-22 overall record

* * *

Some good news, if any of the above means anything: Staubach won his 35th, 36th, and 37th starts. Similarly, White won starts 35 through 39 in 1982.

In fact, this is a little bit unusual: the only quarterback in team history to lose his 35th career start with the Cowboys was Don Meredith, who lost his 35th start on November 22, 1964 to the Redskins.

* * *

Several stories noted that the 11-10 score in the Steelers’ win over San Diego on November 16 was the only time in NFL history that a game has ended with that score.

The Cowboys 35-22 win over San Francisco was not quite as unusual, but this score has been the result in only three games in league history, and one of those games was an AFL game:

1964: Buffalo 35, Kansas City 22

2006: Baltimore Ravens 35, New Orleans 22

2008: Dallas 35, San Francisco 22

* * *

The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points against the 49ers eight times, and Dallas has won all eight of those games (including playoffs). The 35 points was the most scored by the Cowboys against the 49ers since the 1993 NFC Championship Game, when Dallas won 38-21.