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One surprise was the selection of Efren Herrera’s 1977 season as the greatest ever. I call this a surprise because Herrera only hit 62.1% of his field goals that season (and missed two extra points), and he was gone one year later. (I would have picked Rafael Septien’s 1981 season.) Nevertheless, Herrera was an all-pro selection in 1977, so it was not as if he didn’t deserve consideration.
Now for some trivia: why did the Cowboys trade Herrera to Seattle?
The short answer is that Herrera was demanding too much money. In fact, he wanted to double his salary from 1976.
Double means going from about $40,000 per year to about $80,000 per year. In 2016 dollars, that would be like Herrera asking for a raise from $159,000 to $318,000. Of course, the current minimum veteran salary for a fourth-year pro (which Herrera was in 1978) is $760,000.
Salary of current kicker Dan Bailey in 2016? $3.3 million, including his prorated signing bonus.
Dallas traded Herrera to Seattle on August 14, 1978, in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. He played for Seattle for four years and became somewhat famous for his involvement with trick plays. In fact, he caught two passes for a total of 29 yards.
He played part of one season in Buffalo. He was signed by a couple of USFL teams but did not play in that league.
After the trade with Seattle in 1978, Dallas was left with unheralded Jay Sherrill and Skip Butler at kicker. Fortunately, the Cowboys were able to sign Septien as a free agent about two weeks after trading Herrera.
Last Sunday evening, the Giants tore through the Dallas defense to take a 21-10 lead. The Cowboys might have had a much more difficult time coming back had Barry Church not picked off an Eli Manning pass in the third quarter, after which Dallas scored to take the lead. Of course, Dallas won the game after a clutch drive in the final two minutes.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Eagles made it look even easier to run through the Dallas defense. With the Eagles leading 23-7 in the third quarter, it looked like Dallas got another big break in the form of a turnover. The Cowboys stripped LeSean McCoy from the ball and recovered at the Philadelphia 13. DeMarco Murray then gained nine yards on first down, giving Dallas a 2nd-and-1 from the Philadelphia 4.
A touchdown would mean the Cowboys would cut the lead to 9 with about 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. That would have been a manageable deficit.
Instead, the Cowboys lost a total of six yards on the next two plays and had to settle for a field goal. The deficit was still 13.
And the Dallas defense still could not stop the Eagles. On the next drive, Philadelphia went 80 yards on six plays, capped off by a 38-yard touchdown run by McCoy. The touchdown extended the Eagle lead to 30-10 and ended the competitive phase of the game.
Romo played his worst game of the season, throwing for less than 200 yards with two interceptions. The Eagles contained the entire Dallas offense, holding Murray to 73 rushing yards and Dez Bryant to 73 receiving yards. McCoy outgained their combined yardage total with 159 rushing yards.
The loss drops Dallas (8-4) to second place in the NFC East with four games remaining. In the wildcard race, the Seahawks and Lions both have 8-4 records as well. Dallas would win the tiebreaker with Seattle because of the Cowboys’ win over the Seahawks earlier this season. Detroit, however, has a better conference record than Dallas.
Even worse, Seattle looks like it is on a roll, winning two straight without giving up a touchdown. The Lions ended a two-game losing streak by beating Chicago today, and Detroit faces Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago during the next three weeks.
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.
The Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Nearly all simulations and predictions favor the 49ers.
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.
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 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.
Based on a search I ran on Pro-Football-Reference, the Cowboys have a combined record of 223-11 in games where they led by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter. Here is my Facebook post about this search:
Between 2005 and 2010, the Cowboys could and often would turn to running back Marion Barber, who had a knack for making key first downs and allowing the Cowboys to run out the clock.
The Cowboys lost two games during that span in which the team led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter—a 14-13 loss to the Redskins in 2005 and a 20-13 loss to the Steelers in 2008. Barber did not play in either game, as he was not yet part of the offense in 2005 and was injured in the 2008 game.
The Cowboys struggles against the Steelers in 2008 were similar to those in recent years. Dallas had a 13-3 fourth-quarter lead and attempted to kill the clock. However, the team could only turn to Tashard Choice, who struggled to run the ball. Once the Steelers tied the game at 13, the Cowboys had to rely on Tony Romo to move the team into field goal range.
Romo instead threw an interception returned for a touchdown. The Cowboys did not recover.
Without Barber since 2011, the Cowboys seldom rely on their running game to close out games. DeMarco Murray is not the same type of runner that Barber was, and the Cowboys apparently do not trust him to run the ball unless the defense lines up without their safeties in the box. That apparently explains why Dallas was throwing so much in their loss to the Packers.
The defensive alignment never seemed to matter when the Cowboys had Barber, who found ways to make first downs even when everyone in the stadium knew he would get the ball.
In an old post, I wrote a summary of Barber’s best games as of the end of 2009. Here is that list:
Oct. 30, 2005: Dallas 34, Arizona 13
Filling in for an injured Julius Jones, Barber carried the ball 27 times for 127 yards in a 34-13 win over Arizona. With the Cowboys leading by at least two touchdowns, Barber touched the ball 14 times in the fourth quarter.
Oct. 29, 2006: Dallas 35, Carolina 14
The Cowboys had a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter when safety Roy Williams picked off a pass in Carolina territory. The Cowboys alternated between Barber and Julius Jones, but it was Barber who found the end zone twice in the final three minutes to put the game away for Dallas.
Nov. 12, 2006: Dallas 38, Arizona 10
Dallas dominated the Cardinals in Arizona, taking a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter. In the final 17 minutes of the game, Barber touched the ball 10 times and scored a short run to increase the lead to 27-3 early in the fourth quarter.
Nov. 23, 2006: Dallas 38, Tampa Bay 10
In another blowout, Dallas held a 35-10 lead in the third quarter. In the final 18:36, Barber ran the ball 11 times and helped to set up the final field goal.
Dec. 16, 2006: Dallas 38, Atlanta 28
The Cowboys had a narrow 31-28 lead at Atlanta when the Falcons punted with 8:58 remaining. Barber took over from there, catching one pass early in the drive and then running six consecutive times. The sixth rush was a three-yard touchdown, securing the Dallas win.
Sept. 9, 2007: Dallas 45, N.Y. Giants 35
In a wild season opener, Dallas took a 45-35 lead late in the game when Tony Romo hit Sam Hurd on a 51-yard touchdown. The Giants punted the ball back to the Cowboys with 2:08 remaining. From there, Barber ran the ball five straight times, helping Dallas to run out the clock.
Sept. 16, 2007: Dallas 37, Miami 20
The Dolphins would not give up in the second week of the 2007 season. After cutting the lead to 30-20 with 3:26 remaining, the Dolphins tried an onside kick. Dallas recovered, and on the next play, Barber raced 40 yards for the final score of the game.
Sept. 23, 2007: Dallas 34, Chicago 10
In another surprising blowout in 2007, Dallas held a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter and took the ball over with 8:53 remaining. Barber touched the ball eight consecutive times on a 78-yard drive, which Barber capped off with a one-yard touchdown run.
Oct. 21, 2007: Dallas 24, Minnesota 14
The Cowboys took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. In the final eight minutes of the game, Barber carried the ball 11 times, putting the game away.
Nov. 11, 2007: Dallas 31, N.Y. Giants 20
With Dallas leading 31-20 in the fourth quarter, Barber touched the ball eight times, helping the Cowboys to a key win at the Meadowlands.
Nov. 22, 2007: Dallas 34, N.Y. Jets 3
In a blowout win, Barber touched the ball 11 times in the final 10:47 to help the Cowboys run out the clock in a Thanksgiving Day win.
Nov. 29, 2007: Dallas 37, Green Bay 27
With the Cowboys holding on to a one-touchdown lead with 5:03 left, the Cowboys turned to Barber. He carried the ball seven times for 26 yards to help set up a field goal that iced the game for Dallas.
Dec. 22, 2007: Dallas 20, Carolina 13
The Cowboys’ held a one-touchdown lead with about three minutes remaining. Needing at least a first down, Barber came through with runs of 9 and 11 yards to help secure the win for Dallas.
Sept. 15, 2008: Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37
Barber did not put the game away against the Eagles in the second week of the 2008 season, but his one-yard touchdown run was the game winner in an early season victory.
Oct. 5, 2008: Dallas 31, Cincinnati 22
With the Cowboys barely holding on to a 24-22 lead with 7:39 remaining, the Cowboys turned to Barber, who gained 20 yards on the team’s final scoring drive that put the Bengals away.
Nov. 16, 2008: Dallas 14, Washington 10
The Cowboys were holding on to a 14-10 lead over the Redskins when the Cowboys stopped a Washington drive in Dallas territory. In his greatest effort as a closer so far, Barber touched the ball 11 straight times. His last run on a fourth-and-one play put the game away for the Cowboys.
Nov. 23, 2008: Dallas 35, San Francisco 22
With the Cowboys having trouble putting the 49ers away, Dallas turned to Barber on two fourth quarter drives. He touched the ball eight times, helping the secure the win.
Sept. 13, 2009: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21
The Cowboys had trouble putting the Buccaneers away in the opening game of the 2009 season. On a late scoring drive, highlighted by a 44-yard pass play from Romo to Patrick Crayton, Barber ran the ball four times and scored from six yards out, helping the Cowboys to a win.
Nov. 8, 2009: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16
The Eagles cut the Dallas led to 20-16 with 4:27 remaining in a key NFC East game on Sunday night. With the Cowboys needing first downs, Dallas gave ball to Barber, who gained 23 yards on three consecutive carries. Since the Eagles were out of timeouts, a third down conversion on a pass from Romo to Jason Witten put the game away.
Dan Bailey has been the Dallas kicker for less than three full seasons, but he has already hit more game-winning field goals (8) than Rafael Septien (7) did in nine seasons.
(Of course, the Cowboys were more often in the lead when Septien was kicker, but that’s a different point.) The list below summarizes Bailey’s game winners. Four of the kicks came in overtime.
September 18, 2011
Dallas 27, San Francisco 24 (OT) Bailey hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime, then hit a 19 yarder to win the game.
September 26, 2011
Dallas 18, Washington 16 Bailey scored the final 9 points in the game. His 40-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining won the game for Dallas.
November 20, 2011
Dallas 27, Washington 24 (OT) After Graham Gano missed a 52-yard attempt in overtime, Bailey hit a 39 yarder to give Dallas the win.
November 24, 2011
Dallas 20, Miami 19 Bailey hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Dallas the one-point win.
November 18, 2012
Dallas 23, Cleveland 20 (OT) Bailey hit three field goals in the game, including a 32 yarder to tie the game at the end of regulation. He nailed a 38-yard attempt in overtime to give Dallas the win.
December 9, 2012
Dallas 20, Cincinnati 19 Rival Josh Brown hit four field goals in the game, but Bailey’s 40 yarder as time expired gave the Cowboys a one-point win.
December 16, 2012
Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT) The Cowboys intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in overtime, setting up Bailey’s 21-yard field goal, which gave Dallas the win.
November 24, 2013
Dallas 24, N.Y. Giants 21 The Giants erased a 21-6 Dallas lead in the second half, but the Cowboys drove the length of the field to set up Bailey’s 35-yard game winner.
I planned to write a long post about my lack of faith in Jason Garrett. I’ll just leave it at that, though.
Instead, we’ll have some fun with Ranker. Here is a list of the team’s worst 10 losses since he took over in November 2010.