Author: nats3437

Random Game Sunday- Dallas 30 New Orleans 27 (OT), October 21, 1984


Rafael Septien celebrates his game winning 41 yard field goal in overtime in Dallas 30-27 win over New Orleans at Texas Stadium on October 21, 1984.

With the Cowboys over half a year away from taking the field for the 2018 season, we are going to go back in time to check out a random game from the team’s past and make some observations after watching that game.  Most of my collection of over 125 Cowboys’ games is from the relatively recent past, but I have collected some older games over the years and You Tube also allows for the viewing of some games I do not have in my collection.  Today’s game is from October 21, 1984 as the Cowboys hosted New Orleans in a Sunday Night Football game at Texas Stadium. 


The Cowboys started the 1984 season winning four of their first five games but stumbled badly in weeks six and seven, losing to division rivals St. Louis and Washington.   Heading into the Sunday Night game with New Orleans, the Cowboys were in a major slump and also were experiencing an old Texas tradition, namely a quarterback controversy.  With the team’s fortunes on the decline, 1984 starter Gary Hogeboom was experiencing the wrath of an impatient fan base.

New Orleans entered the game at 3-4, and also sported a two game losing streak.  The Saints and Bum Phillips were a respectable 3-2 following New Orleans’ victory over Phillips’ old Houston team, but consecutive losses to Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams had the Saints in the all too familiar position of being a sub .500 team.


Early in the game, the broadcast team of Frank Gifford, Don Meredith and O.J. Simpson commented on the start differences between the performances of the two franchises over the previous two decades. It was pointed out that the Cowboys entered 1984 sporting 18 consecutive winning seasons, while the Saints started the season with 17 straight non-winning campaigns.  At the end of the four quarters plus of football on this long evening, some of the reasons for the teams’ contrasting fortunes would be evident.


The Cowboys had long been known as having one of the NFL’s most entertaining and successful offensive units.  In 1984, the team took a major step backward.

With former stars Drew Pearson, Robert Newhouse and  Billy Joe DuPree retired,  and with valuable backup receiver Butch Johnson having been traded to Denver, the Cowboys’ offense lacked the pizzazz it had shown in previous seasons.   Throw in less less than solid play at the quarterback position and injuries to key members of the line, and the stage was set for a mediocre season on offense.

A look some figures from the 1983 and 1984 seasons shows how things had taken a step backward in Dallas:

1983                              1984

Pts scored                              479 (2nd in NFL)          308 (18th)

Passing TDS                            31                                    19

Yards per Pass Attempt        6.5                                   5.5

Yards per Rush Attempt       4.1                                   3.7



No one ever disputed that new starter Hogeboom had an NFL-quality arm, but 1984 called into question whether he had the complete package to be a successful signal caller,

The good and bad of the fifth year pro were both on display in the contest.  In the first half, Hogeboom rifled a beautful pass to Tony Hill on an out pattern for a first down.  In the second period, the tall passer’s perfectly placed laser of a throw connected with Doug Cosbie despite the tight end’s being sandwiched by two Saint defenders.

Hogeboom’s other side was shown in the third quarter, when he tried to force a pass under pressure to running back James Jones only to have New Orleans’ Dirt Winston intercept the toss and return it for a score to give the Saints a 27-6 lead.

The Central Michigan product’s career never took off in Dallas.  Among Cowboys’ passers with at least 400 career pass attempts, Hogeboom was dead last in quarterback rating with a 65.4 mark.  He finished 6-6 in the 12 games he started for Dallas, sometimes showing flashes of brilliance but also (not always solely due to his fault) experiencing periods of less than solid play.


On Thanksgiving Day 1979 at Texas Stadium while playing for the Oilers, battering ram running back Earl Campbell ran nearly 200 yards to help the Oilers defeat Dallas 30-24.  On this evening in 1984, Campbell was in Saints’ colors and displayed some of the skills he showed nearly five years earlier.

Several superb runs by Campbell, along with a surprising 62 yard touchdown burst by unheralded Saints’ back Hokie Gajan, helped the visitors post an overpowering 191 rushing yards in the first half of the game.  Adjustments by Dallas would limit the Saints to only 45 rushing yards in the second half of the game.


The Cowboys entered the fourth quarter of the game trailing 27-6, and the prospects of a patented Cowboys’ comeback looked bleak,  Just when it appeared a 4-4 record was all but a certainty for Dallas, rookie Chuck McSwain made a special teams’ play that jump started a Dallas rally.

McSwain stormed in from the right side of the Dallas line to block Brian Hanson’s punt.  The ball rolled all the way to the New Orleans three and when Tony Dorsett ran for a touchdown on the next play, the Cowboys were within striking distance with most of the final period left to play.

Veteran Dallas cornerback Everson Walls said after the contest that he “thought the blocked punt was the turning point (of the game).  McSwain shot through and made the play”.


The game began at the unusually late time of 8:45p Central Time due to a presidential election debate between President Ronald Reagan and Democratic candidate Walter Mondale.   It took the Dallas offense close to the midnight hour to show signs of life on this unusual evening.

Trailing by 14 points with roughly six minutes left in the game, substitute quarterback Danny White took the Cowboys on a long drive that featured many big passing plays.  First, White connected with Mike Renfro on an 18 yard completion to move the ball to the Saints’ 33.  Three plays later on a third down and 10 situation, White threw to Hill for 15 yards and a first down.  Another third down conversion, this one on an 11 yard pass to Ron Springs, moved the ball to the Saints’ 37, and Renfro’s second big catch of the possession took the ball inside the Saints’ 20.

The payoff on the drive was  a perfectly executed 12 yard touchdown pass on a slant from White to Renfro.  The score brought Dallas to within seven points of the reeling Saints, sent what was left of the Texas Stadium crowd into a frenzy.


Although he was most ineffective for the time he was in the game,  New Orleans’ starting quarterback Richard Todd left the game with New Orleans up by two scores.  An injury to Todd forced the Saints to go to veteran backup Kenny Stabler, and the results were less than positive.

Around 13 months earlier, Stabler was the Saints’ starting signal caller and managed New Orleans to a 20-19 lead late in the fourth quarter.  With roughly two minutes to go in the game, the fearless former Raider star gambled that he could make a big play in the passing game despite being within the shadow of his own goal line.  That gamble proved to be a bad one, as Dallas linebacker Anthony Dickerson sacked Stabler for a safety that gave Dallas a surprising difficult 21-20 win.

In this game it was deja vu all over again for Stabler, except this time the Cowboys scored seven points instead of two.  Facing a third down and long play from inside his own 10 yard line, Stabler dropped back to throw but was sacked by hard charging Cowboys tackle Randy White. The hit by White forced a fumble that teammate Jim Jeffcoat recovered in the end zone, and the Cowboys had come all the way back to tie the game at 24-34.

Jeffcoat’s score was one of four he would have as a Cowboys, tying him with Mr. Cowboy Bob Lilly and Redskins’ killer Larry Cole for the most career touchdowns for a Dallas defensive lineman.


Cowboys defensive end Ed Jones and New Orleans linebacker Ricky Jackson may not have been in the headlines following the game, but both showed why they were among the NFLs best at their positions.

Jones was a major factor in helping the Cowboys shore up their run defense in the second half, often getting penetration into the Saints’ backfield to thwart running attempts.

Jackson was a major thorn in Dallas’ side, picking up one and a half sacks, registering seven tackles and even being credited with a pass defenses.


Overtime ended quickly as Dallas, thanks to a pass interference penalty, drove into Saints’ territory where Rafael Septien kicked a 41 yard field goal to win the game.

During Tom Landry’s time as Cowboys’ head coach, Dallas was 3-1 in overtime contests at Texas Stadium and 6-3 overall.


1984 would end up being an unusual non-playoff season for Dallas, but the comeback win helped the Cowboys stay in the thick of playoff contention all the way to the final week of the season.

New Orleans would go 3-1  in the weeks immediately following the game, but would lost three of their last four games to end the season with a 7-9 mark.






Random Game Sunday- Dallas 17 Kansas City 10, October 18, 1992

With the Cowboys over half a year away from taking the field for the 2018 season, we are going to go back in time to check out a random game from the team’s past and make some observations after watching that game.  Most of my collection of over 125 Cowboys’ games is from the relatively recent past, but I have collected some older games over the years and You Tube also allows for the viewing of some games I do not have in my collection.  Today’s game is from October 18, 1992 at Texas Stadium when the up and coming Cowboys took on Marty Schottenheimer’s Kansas City Chiefs.


Dallas’ Alvin Harper and Kansas City rookie Dale Carter battle for a deep pass thrown by Troy Aikman in Dallas’ 17-10 win over the Chiefs on October 18, 1992.  Carter would tip the ball away to prevent a Cowboys’ touchdown.


There was electricity in the crowd at Texas Stadium on this fine October day in 1992, an electricity that was in large part caused by a run of success at home that the Cowboys had not seen in over a decade.

The victory over Kansas City was the Cowboys’ 10th in a row at home, giving Dallas the second longest run of consecutive wins at Texas Stadium in team history.  Dallas would run the streak to eleven several weeks later with a 20-10 win over division rival Philadelphia before seeing the string end in an upset loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The eleven consecutive wins remains the second longest regular season home win streak in team history, trailing only the remarkable 18 straight victories at home the Cowboys put up from late 1979 through 1981.  After picking up late season victories over the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in 1979, the Cowboys were a perfect 8-0 at Texas Stadium in both 1980 and 1981.


One of the characteristics of the 1992 Super Bowl Champion Cowboys’ team was an ability to control the clock by grinding out long possessions made possible by the running of Emmitt Smith behind Dallas’ unmatched offensive line.  The victory over the Chiefs was an outlier in the season as Dallas won the game despite holding the ball roughly a minute and half less than the visiting Chiefs.

The Cowboys had a time of possession advantage in 13 of their 16 regular season contests in 1992, winning 12 of those games.  Dallas went 1-2 in games where its opponent held the ball longer, with the two losses coming in October at Philadelphia and in December at RFK Stadium against the Redskins.

The victory over the Chiefs was also one of three games on the year where the Cowboys scored three or fewer points in the second half of contest.  Lin Elliott’s field goal in the third quarter gave the Cowboys their 17-10 lead over Kansas City and marked the only points Dallas would score in the game’s final two quarters.   In week four,  the Cowboys were shut out in the second half by the Eagles.  The same thing would happen in Dallas’ week 14 loss to the Redskins.


The physical Chiefs took the opening kickoff and held the ball for 8:30 minutes before settling for a Nick Lowrey field goal and a 3-0 lead.

As often was the case in 1992, the Cowboys had an immediate answer. On their first possession, the Cowboys drove 78 yards in eight plays to cash in for six points on a Troy Aikman to Daryl Johnston two yard scoring pass.  The big chunk of yardage in the drive was a 28 yard pass interference penalty against game but inexperienced Chiefs’ corner Dale Carter, who was playing because Kansas City’s all-pro cornerback Albert Lewis missed the game due to injury.


While the 1992 Cowboys may have been known more for their dominating running game, Troy Aikman and the team’s receivers gave Dallas one of the league’s best passing attacks as well.

The victory over the Chiefs featured an oddity in the championship season, namely a game where only one Cowboys’ wide receiver registered a catch.  Cowboys’ leading receiver Michael Irvin caught six balls for 84 yards in the game, but no other Dallas wiedout caught a pass against the tough Chiefs’ defense.  It would be the final week of the 1993 season, some 26 regular season games later, for that occurrence to happen again.  In the Cowboys’ 16-13 division clinching win at New York against the Giants, Irvin would be the only Cowboys wide receiver with a reception (he had three for 50 yards).


The Chiefs’ grind it out offense featured two larger than normal running backs.  6’2″, 242 pound Barry Word was the Chiefs’ leading rusher in the game, gaining 46 yards on 13 carries and scoring the Chiefs’ only touchdown behind an excellent block by Kansas City right tackle Rich Baldinger.

The solidly built Word, amazing, was not the largest tailback on Kansas City’s roster. That distinction went to 253 pound Christian Okoye, a back who had terrorized the Cowboys for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a 1989 Cowboys’ loss at Kansas City.

On this day, however, there were no nightmares for the Cowboys. Dallas held Okoye to a mere 17 yards on five carries. One play that showed the Cowboys’ resolve to stop the large back came on a second and five play from the Cowboys 41 in the second quarter.  Emerging star Leon Lett shed a block from Kansas City’s talented center Tim Grunhard, met Okoye one yard beyond the line of scrimmage and took him down a powerful tackle that could probably have been heard all the way to Fort Worth.


The Cowboys sacked Kansas City’s Dave Krieg three times, with Lett, Russell Maryland and Jimmie Jones all registering quarterback traps.

While he did not pick up a sack and had only one tackle on the game, the Cowboys’ best player on defense may have been Hall of Famer Charles Haley who caused all sorts of havoc from his right end position.

Haley was able to apply consistent pressure on Krieg, with his teammates often being the beneficiaries.  On the game’s pivotal play (a fourth quarter interception by Ray Horton deep in Cowboys’ territory),  Haley’s pressure forced Krieg to throw the ball a split second before he wanted and caused the turnover that preserved a Dallas win.  The play was typical of a season where Haley took what was a good Dallas defense in 1991 and made it a truly special group in 1992.


In baseball, seeing a dominating closer emerge from the bullpen with his team ahead often causes an opponent to all but pack up its gear and focus on looking forward to the next day for a potential win.  Following Horton’s interception, one wonders whether the Chiefs felt the same way.

Behind a key 19 yard slant from Aikman to Irvin and 20 yards of tough running by Smith, Dallas held the ball for the game’s final 3:42 to quash any hopes of a late Chiefs’ comeback.  The slant pass, perfectly thrown by the impeccably accurate Aikman, helped Dallas dig out of a second and 10 hole to keep its drive going.


In the early years of Jimmy Johnson’s tenure as Cowboys’ coach, the team’s secondary featured veteran players who were signed to help provide stability to a young squad.   By the time Dallas and Kansas City faced off in 1992, it was clear that some of the younger Cowboys’ defense backs were on the fast track to a key role in the team’s fortunes.

After veteran corner Isaac Holt was beaten for a few first down catches, rookie Kevin Smith started to see more time and brought energy and speed to the Cowboys’ defensive backfield.  Hard hitting Darren Woodson was becoming a force as a slot defensive back for the Cowboys, and newly acquired rock solid safety Thomas Everett was also emerging as a safety who opposing wide receivers probably saw in their nightmares before facing Dallas.  Teamed up with intellegent and rangy veteran James Washington and second year pro Larry Brown, Smith, Woodson and Everett helped turn a one-time problem into a Cowboys’ strength.


With starting left tackle Mark Tuinei out with an injury, backup Alan Veingrad was given the unenviable task of trying to block Kansas City’s all-world pass rusher Derrick Thomas for most of the game.  While Thomas certainly had his moments, including a second quarter sack of Aikman, Veingrad held up fairly well throughout the game.  Veingrad’s effort was typical of a Cowboys’ season where contributions to the team’s success came from many different sources.


Broadcasts of inter-conference Cowboys’ home games allow fans to experience listening to broadcasters they may not get to hear on a regular basis. These days, such games bring Jim Nantz and Tony Romo to Dallas.  Back in 1992 the AFC’s games were broadcast on NBC, which meant Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy had the call.

Listening to Enberg’s brilliant call of the game reinforced to me what a treasure he was as a broadcaster.

DuPree’s Skills Helped Cowboys’ Offense Score Big from 1973 through 1983


Billy Joe DuPree, who turns 68 years old today, was a versatile and talented tight end who could do it all for the Dallas Cowboys.  Whether it was catching a deep ball down the seam, blocking on the edge for another big gain by Tony Dorsett or even turning the occasional tight end reverse into a first down or even a touchdown, DuPree’s skills were a perfect fit for Tom Landry’s explosive and varied offense.

The Michigan State product came to Dallas in the 1973 draft as a first round pick and it didn’t take long for DuPree to make an impact.  In a game three 45-10 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals, DuPree caught three touchdown passes.  DuPree’s first 100 yard receiving game came two years later in a 1975 week two contest, again against St. Louis.  The tall tight end caught six passes for 100 yards in the game, including a three yard touchdown pass from Roger Staubach in overtime to give Dallas a 37-31 victory.

DuPree’s best season was probably Dallas’ 1978 NFC Championship season when he caught 34 passes for an average of 15.0 yards per catch and scored a career high nine touchdowns.  Down the stretch of that season, DuPree had big scoring catches in crucial victories at Green Bay and at home against tough New England to help keep Dallas’ late season winning streak alive.

The talented tight end finished his career his career with 41 touchdown catches,  trailing only Jason Witten’s 68 among Cowboys’ tight ends.  He also scored four post-season touchdowns, including a seven yard scoring pass from Staubach in  Super Bowl XIII against the Steelers.

DuPree’s 11 year career in Dallas ended following the 1983 season. During his time in Dallas, the team made the playoffs 10 times, won three NFC Championships and one World Championship.  DuPree’s skills were a big part of the team’s success, and most observers have him behind only future Hall of Famer Witten in the listing of the Cowboys’ all-time best tight ends.

Uniquely Talented Linebacker Henderson Helped Make Doomsday Defense a Force


Thomas Henderson (#56) chases down nemesis Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida in January 1979.

The Dallas Cowboys’ history is replete with stories of small college players who made it big in Big D.  Cliff Harris came from tiny Oachita Baptist College in Arkansas and starred at free safety for Dallas from 1970 through 1979.   Fort Valley State in Georgia produced future Cowboys’ Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright, and Elizabeth City State College gave Dallas stalwart lineman Jethro Pugh who wore the star for 14 solid seasons.

Also among the products of smaller schools was an unforgettable linebacker who brought speed, tenacity and power to the Cowboys in the mid-1970s.  Thomas Henderson, a first round pick out of Langston University in Oklahoma in the Dirty Dozen Draft class of 1975, saw his star burn brightly in Dallas for four seasons before substance abuse problems led to his untimely departure from the Cowboys.

Henderson, who turns 65 years old today, played with speed that was unmatched among NFL linebackers of his era.  In his second regular season NFL game, Henderson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a score in the Cowboys 37-31 win over rival St. Louis. Later in that season in Super Bowl X, Henderson nearly took another kickoff all the way settling for an electrifying 48 yard return.

The versatile and intelligent linebacker was equally adept at covering speed backs like Terry Metcalf coming out of the backfield, meeting battering ram backs like Earl Campbell in the hole or taking talented tight ends like Russ Francis out of their game.   Whether it was making a big tackle on defense or turning a game around with a great special teams play, Henderson was a player Cowboys’ opponents had to watch out for.

The Austin, Texas product seemed to come up big during the Cowboys’ biggest games during his peak in the 1977 and 1978 Super Bowl seasons.  In 1977, Henderson contributed a sack in Dallas 37-7 divisional round win over the Bears, an interception, five tackles and three assists in the NFC title win over Minnesota and five tackles and two assists in Dallas 27-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl 12.

Henderson continued his excellent play in the 1978 post-season.   He recorded four tackles, five assists and a sack in Dallas’ 27-20 divisional round win over Atlanta, and put the icing on the cake of Dallas’ 28-0 rout of the Rams in the NFC Championship game with a 68 yard interception return for a score.  In Super Bowl XIII, Henderson and teammate Mike Hegman stripped Terry Bradshaw of the ball to allow Hegman to register a fumble return for a touchdown.

The abrupt end to Henderson’s Cowboys’ career was caused by a demon he could not control then, but one he has since mastered.  He now works to help others from falling into the same traps he did.   While it is easy to wonder what might have been if Henderson had been able to continue his Cowboys’ career into the 1980s, there’s no denying that he made an impact few other Cowboys’ players have made in such a short time period with the team.

Random Game Sunday- Dallas 44 Buffalo 7, November 13, 2011

With the Cowboys over half a year away from taking the field for the 2018 season, we are going to go back in time to check out a random game from the team’s past and make some observations after watching that game.  Most of my collection of over 125 Cowboys’ games is from the relatively recent past, but I have collected some older games over the years and You Tube also allows for the viewing of some games I do not have in my collection.  Today’s game is from November 13, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium as the Cowboys face Chan Gailey and the Buffalo Bills in a rare contest between the  inter-conference foes.     


Terence Newman begins his 43 yard interception return for a touchdown to close out the scoring in the Cowboys’ 44-7 win over Buffalo.


Dallas entered the game with a 4-4 record.  After winning two of their first three games, the Cowboys dropped three of their next four to fall below the .500 mark.  A 23-13 win over Seattle at home got their record even heading into the game with Buffalo.

The visiting Bills started play on November 13th with a 5-3 record.  After winning their first three contests, the Bills lost three of their next five heading into the game with the most recent loss coming in week eight by a 27-11 score to the New York Jets.


The Cowboys’ rout of the Bills was sparked by the great play of quarterback Tony Romo, whose 148.4 QBR for the game was the second highest in the NFL in 2011.  Benefiting from excellent protection from his line of Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Phil Costa, Montre Holland and rookie Tyron Smith, Romo completed his first 13 throws in route going 23 for 26 for 270 yards and three touchdowns in the game.

Romo’s QBR rating was the fourth highest of his career, trailing his 151.7 mark against the Colts in 2014, a 150.5 figure in a 2012 Dallas win over the Eagles and his 148.9 rating in the Cowboys’ 38-10 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Buccaneers in 2006.


Many complained about the 2017 Cowboys’ inability to make big plays in the passing game. That was not a problem in 2011.

Romo’s 56 20 yard plus passing plays on the season was the second highest total for a season in his career, behind only the 61 such plays he produced in 2009.

Two of the big plays hit for scores against the Bills.   On the Cowboys’ opening drive Romo threw a 34 yard scoring pass to Dez Bryant, who made a leaping catch over Bills’ corner Terrence McGee for the acrobatic score.

In the early minutes of the second quarter, a well-designed play on first down isolated Cowboys’ receiver Laurent Robinson on Bills’ corner Drayton Florence and Robinson beat him for a 58 yard touchdown on a beautiful post-pattern.


In his rookie year of 2011, running back Demarco Murray began to show signs that he would be a star in the NFL.  He gained 135 tough yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown against Buffalo, concluding a four game stretch in which he ran for 601 of his 897 yards on the season.

Murray’s ability to hit the accelerate out of cuts into the second level was on display in the early part of the game, as he helped the Cowboys offense dominate from the beginning grind-it-out runs that wore down the Bills’ defense.  In the fourth quarter, Murray, backup runner Phillip Tanner and the Cowboys’ offensive line combined to hold the ball for over six minutes leading to a Cowboys’ field goal that extended the Dallas lead to 37-7.


An early season injury to talented Cowboys’ wide receiver Miles Austin left a void in the Cowboys lineup, but backup Laurent Robinson stepped into that void to have the best season of his six year NFL career.

Robinson scored 11 of his 15 NFL touchdowns in his only season with the Cowboys, with two coming in the victory over Buffalo.  He would finish the season with 54 catches for 858 yards and a 15.9 yard per catch average as he became a reliable target for Romo.


Rookie Dan Bailey made all three field goal attempts he tried in the game, showing that the Cowboys had solved a problem at placekicker that had plagued the game for over a decade.  Bailey would end up making 32 of his 37 attempts on the year (86.5 percent), and his career would continue going up from there.   His 88.2 career success rate on field goals is the third best all-time for kickers with at least 50 field goal attempts.



Rob Ryan’s risk-taking defense had its ups and downs, both during the 2011 season and during Ryan’s tenure as Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.  On this day however, the defense did a superb job creating mistakes for a Bills’ offense that to that point had been careful with the ball.

A first drive sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick by Canton-bound Demarcus Ware set the tone early for a defense that pressured Fitzpatrick all game long.   Later in the first half, Ware and defensive backs Terence Newman and Gerald Sensabaugh sniffed out Bills’ screen pass attempts and made excellent open field tackles to prevent big gains.  In the third quarter, backup defensive back Danny McCray did the same on a pass to dangerous Bills’ halfback Fred Jackson.

In the second half, a hard hit by safety Sensabaugh caused Jackson to fumble with Jay Ratliff recovering in Dallas territory to thwart a Bills’ scoring opportunity.  In the final quarter, Newman provided a final big play with a 43 yard interception return for a score. The interception was one of two on the day for Newman, who finished his Cowboys’ career with 32 picks (tied with Lee Roy Jordan for the seventh most in Cowboys’ history).


In the game Romo and the Cowboys’ offense excelled at converting on third down, picking up eight first downs in 12 opportunities.  The Cowboys’ quarterback did so with the help of a variety of receivers.

On Dallas’ first drive, Romo hooked up with little used receiver Jesse Holley on a perfectly thrown 25 yard seam pass on a third and four play.  Bryant’s 34 yard touchdown came on the next play.

The next time Dallas got the ball, a five yard pass to Jason Witten on third and three from the Buffalo 25 kept the drive alive.  Four plays later on third and goal from the Bills five, Romo escaped a Buffalo blitz by spinning to his left and finding Robinson alone in the corner of the end zone for Dallas’ second touchdown.

In the drive leading to Murray’s score that put Dallas up 28-7,  Romo connected with Murray (17 yards), Witten (17 and 10 yards) and Bryant (11 yards) on third down passes that kept the chains moving for Dallas.


The Cowboys’ win was part of a November to remember for the Boys, who won the following week in overtime at Washington and defeated Miami 20-19 on Thanksgiving Day in a Romo-led final quarter comeback.  Unfortunately the Cowboys final month was not as productive. Dallas lost four of its final five games, including a crushing 37-34 week 14 loss at home to the Giants.  By the time Dallas traveled to New York in the final week of the season in a NFC East title showdown,  the Cowboys had lost the momentum they’d built in November.  The Giants defeated Dallas easily in the contest, and the Cowboys’ once promising season ended in the disappointment of an 8-8 finish.




Too Tall Was Often Too Much for Cowboys’ Opponents


Ed “Too Tall” Jones zeroes in on Tampa quarterback Doug Williams during the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-0 1981 divisional playoff victory over the Bucs at Texas Stadium.

For a decade and a half from the mid-1970’s through the 1980’s, towering Ed “Too Tall” Jones was as much a part of the Cowboys’ landscape as Tom Landry’s fedora and the hole in the roof at Texas Stadium.  Jones, who turned 67 on February 23rd, was one of the top defensive players in team history.

Arriving in Dallas in 1974 after being selected as the first pick in the NFL draft, the Tennessee State product proved to be a multi-talented player who not only anchored the Cowboys’ line for 15 years but also made those playing with him in the Doomsday Defense better.

Equally adept at stopping the run or at rushing the passer from his left defensive end position, Jones played in 20 playoff games (including three Super Bowls) during his 15 year career in Dallas and often came up big during crucial moments.   In the 1977 NFC championship game, Jones’ tackle caused a first quarter fumble by Minnesota’s Robert Miller that teammate Harvey Martin recovered at the Vikings’ 39 yard line.  Two plays later, Roger Staubach found Golden Richards in the end zone for a TD to give Dallas a lead they’d never lose as the Cowboys won their fourth NFC Championship.

In Super Bowl 12 against Denver, Jones had three tackles and two passes deflected as a relentless Cowboys’ defense dominated the Broncos in a 27-10 win that gave the Cowboys their second NFL title.

Jones’ height and excellent timing made him a threat to block opponents’ passes and kicks, and his efforts often led to easy touchdowns for teammates.  In both 1985 and 1987, Jones blocked passes by New York Giants’ quarterback Phil Simms that led to touchdown returns by Jim Jeffcoat in comeback Cowboys’ wins.

On the Cowboys’ kick blocking team, Jones was an imposing presence who often made big plays. The Cowboys’ miracle 1974 Thanksgiving Day Clint Longley-led comeback win over Washington would never had happened if not for Jones’ block of a Mark Moseley fourth quarter field goal attempt that would have given the Redskins a two score lead.  In 1983 with the Cowboys on the ropes at home against the New Orleans Saints in a week four contest, Jones blocked a Morten Andersen field goal try that Ron Fellows returned for a 62 yard score in a Cowboys’ 21-20 comeback win.

Jones was a three time Pro Bowler and was an All-NFL selection in the strike shortened 1982 season.   Despite losing a season in his prime when he left the NFL to pursue a boxing career, Jones’ 129 career Approximate Value (see Pro Football for details on this tool) trails only Randy White’s 149 and Mel Renfro’s 130 among Cowboys’ defensive players.

It is hard to understand why Jones and his trademark number 72 are not memorialized in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. Although sometimes playing second fiddle to teammates like Harvey Martin and Randy White, there’s no denying that Jones was a dominating force in one of the NFL’s best defenses in the 1970’s and early to mid 1980’s.   Perhaps only Jason Witten has equaled Jones in terms of longevity plus top performance in Cowboys’ history.  Hopefully Too Tall’s efforts will be recognized in the near future and he’ll have a place in the Ring along with several of his teammates from the Cowboys’ first glory days.


Making Them Count


Dallas Cowboys tight end Jeff Robinson hauls in a Vinny Testaverde pass for a Cowboys touchdown during the Browns-Cowboys game Sept. 9, 2004 at Texas Stadium. Dallas defeated Cleveland 19-12. (UPI Photo/Ian Halperin)

License Photo
A backup tight end who was known more for his long-snapping ability than for his pass catching skills is the only player in Dallas Cowboys’ history with more than one regular season reception who scored a touchdown on each catch.
Jeff Robinson, who turns 48 on February 20th, was a 15 year NFL veteran who played for the Bill Parcells-led Cowboys in 2003 and 2004.  In addition to helping to solidify the Cowboys’ kicking game by being a reliable snapper, Robinson contributed on offense on rare but always productive occasions.   Robinson caught a total of four passes for a whopping 10 yards during his time in Big D, but he found the end zone each time to write a rare footnote in Cowboys’ history.
The University of Idaho product’s first touchdown as a Cowboy was his longest in distance (five yards) and certainly his most significant.  The 2003 Cowboys under the direction of Parcells had emerged from three consecutive 5-11 seasons to become NFC playoff contenders.  With a surprising 7-3 mark heading into week 11 of the season, Dallas hosted the 8-2 Carolina Panthers with the best record in the NFC at stake.
With about five minutes gone in the third quarter and the score tied at 10-10, the Cowboys’ Roy Williams intercepted Carolina’s Jake Delhomme and returned the ball to the Panthers’ 11.  On second and four from the Panthers’ five with everyone in Texas Stadium looking for a run, quarterback Quincy Carter faked the run and a leaping Robinson at the back of the end zone for a score that gave Dallas a 17-10 lead.  Carolina evened the score at 17-17 on its next possession, but the upstart Cowboys did the visitors one better as they scored at the end of a 63 yard drive to retake the lead for good in an eventual 24-20 Dallas win.  In the post-game press conference, Parcells commented that Robinson’s catching a touchdown pass was “like a pitcher hitting a home run.  It’s gravy”.
Later in the season, Carter and Robinson hooked up again for score at Philadelphia on a three yard pass that evened the Cowboys-Eagles a NFC East match-up at 10-10 at halftime.
In 2004, Robinson caught one yard touchdown passes from veteran Vinny Testatverde in a week two Dallas 19-12 win over Cleveland and from unproven Drew Henson in a 30-10 drubbing by the Ravens in Baltimore.
The most memorable year in the long-time pro’s career probably came in 1999 when he played for the eventual Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams.  Robinson caught 6 passes for 76 yards and two scores in the regular season, and snagged a 13 yard touchdown from Kurt Warner in the Rams’ 49-37 NFC Divisional Round playoff win over the Vikings.
The one other Cowboy who almost joined Robinson on the “every catch for a TD list” was a player known more for throwing spirals than catching them.  Quarterback Danny White caught TD passes from Ron Springs in 1983 against the Los Angeles Raiders and in 1985 against Cleveland for two of his three career receptions.   His only other reception came on a pass from White himself.  In the 1980 opener at RFK Stadium against the Redskins, Washington’s Monte Coleman blocked a White toss back into the quarterback’s hands for a nine yard loss.