Tag: Ed Jones

This Day in Dallas Cowboys History- Running to Win and Winning Big

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Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett rushed for a career high 1,646 yards during the 1981 regular season, and he added 86 more in Dallas’ first round playoff game 38-0 trouncing of Tampa Bay on January 2, 1982.

A staple of the Tom Landry-led Dallas Cowboys teams was a commitment to the running game.  With a history of great runners like Don Perkins, Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, Robert Newhouse and Tony Dorsett plus deep and talented offensive line units, the Cowboys generally moved the ball effectively on the ground.

The 1981 Cowboys certainly fit that mold. Dallas rushed for 2,711 yards during the regular season, the second highest total in the NFL, with star back Tony Dorsett gaining a career high 1,646 to finish second in rushing in the league behind New Orleans’ George Rogers.

In large part due to its sterling running game, Dallas was among the NFL’s elite in 1981. The Cowboys started fast, going 4-0 to start the year. After a pair of losses, Dallas ran off another four game winning streak with three of the four wins coming against teams that would win 10 or more games on the year.  An upset loss at Detroit made Dallas 8-3 on the year, but the Cowboys ripped off another four game winning streak and clinched the NFC East title in Week 15 with a 21-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys’ opponent at Texas Stadium in the first round of the NFC playoffs was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Doug Williams and a ball-hawking defensive backfield that finished second in the NFL with 32 interceptions.   After 60 minutes of dominant play by the Cowboys, it was clear that the Bucs were not in the same class as a Dallas team that would be heading to its 11th NFC Championship game.

Dallas ran for 212 yards in the game, the sixth highest total in Cowboys’ playoff history.  Dorsett led the way for Dallas with 86 yards, with Ron Springs (70), James Jones (32) and Newhouse (23) contributing to the impressive effort.  Dallas also became only the second team in Pro Football since 1960 to have four players score rushing touchdowns in a post-season game as Dorsett, Springs, Jones and second year man Timmy Newsome all reached the end zone on running plays (the other team was the AFL’s San Diego Chargers, who got rushing scores from Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln, Tobin Rote and John Hadl in a 51-10 playoff victory over the Boston Patriots in the 1964 post-season).

The Cowboys’ success on the ground was due not only to its talented stable of backs, but also to a top-notch effort by its offensive line. The middle of the line, anchored by center Tom Rafferty and guards Herbert Scott and Kurt Petersen, carved out several ridiculously large holes on goal line plays that made the Cowboys’ backs’ task much easier.  Tackles Jim Cooper and Pat Donovan, along with tight ends Billy Joe DuPree and Doug Cosbie, also did their part to allow Dallas’ running game to control the contest.

The Cowboys’ defense was also outstanding on the day, featuring a relentless pass rush that led to four sacks and four interceptions.   Dallas’ dynamic duo of Harvey Martin and Randy White both had a sack on the day.  Left end Ed Jones did not pick up a sack, but he hurried Williams numerous times and had a rare interception.  Next to Charlie Waters no Dallas defensive back had more interceptions in the post-season than cagey Dennis Thurman, and the Southern Cal product had two off of Williams.  Rookie Michael Downs also got in on the fun with an interception of his own.

Dallas shutout was one of only 20 shutouts registered in post-season play since the NFL merger in 1970.  No team in the NFL has more than Dallas’ three during that period (the Cowboys also shut out Detroit in the 1970 playoffs and the Los Angeles Rams in the 1978 NFC Championship Game).

The Cowboys’ 1981 season would have a bitter ending eight days later.  At Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Joe Montana led the 49ers to a 28-27 comeback victory over Dallas to send the Niners to the Super Bowl and the Cowboys back to Dallas to wonder what might have been.

 

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This Day in Dallas Cowboys History-Picking Up Where They Left Off

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Harvey Martin recovers a first quarter Minnesota fumble in Vikings’ territory to set up Dallas’ first score in the Cowboys’ 23-6 NFC Championship Game victory on January 1, 1978.

The Dallas Cowboys were the NFL’s most dominant team during the 1977 regular season.  Dallas started out winning its first eight games, many by substantial margins.  After a two week slump in which they lost to St. Louis at home and the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys rattled off four straight victories to end the season to finish at 12-2.  A first round playoff rout of the Chicago Bears sent Dallas into the NFC title game, where they’d face a Minnesota Vikings team Dallas had beaten 16-10 at Minnesota in the first week of the season.

The first day of 1978 was  cold one in Dallas, with wind chill readings below the freezing mark. However the cold weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd of almost 62,000 at Texas Stadium, a group that believed its team was on a direct path to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 12.  After 60 minutes of football, it was clear that they were right.

Dallas jumped on the visitors right from the start.   An early first quarter Minnesota fumble was recovered by Harvey Martin at the Vikings 39 yard line to put the Cowboys in scoring position right off the bat.  A first down run by Robert Newhouse netted seven yards, and Dallas cashed in on the next play due to a tremendous play design.  The Cowboys lined up with flanker Drew Pearson wide to the right. Before the snap, Pearson came in motion all the way across the field.  On the snap, quarterback Roger Staubach faked a hand off to rookie sensation Tony Dorsett and then gave the impression that he was throwing a wide receiver screen to Pearson. The Vikings, undoubtedly aware that Pearson was the Cowboys’ number one threat at receiver, bit on the fake and Pearson’s partner Golden Richards escaped behind the Vikings’ defense. Staubach’s pass to Richards was slightly overthrown, but the fourth year receiver cradled it as he fell into the end zone and Dallas was ahead 6-0 after usually reliable kicker Efren Herrera missed the extra point.

The Cowboys struck again in the second quarter, aided by a 14 yard run for a first down on a fake punt by Danny White.  Newhouse’s five yard touchdown run and Herrera’s extra point put Dallas up 13-0.    Minnesota got two Fred Cox field goals in the second quarter to draw within a touchdown at 13-6, but Herrera’s short field goal near the end of the quarter expanded Dallas’ lead to 10 points at the half.

Dallas’ defense, led by Ed Jones who had eight solo tackles, dominated in the second half, and some help from the special teams and the offense sealed the victory for the Cowboys.  Thomas Henderson (who had an interception in the game) was a dominant force at outside linebacker for Dallas in his third NFL season, and he also excelled on special teams. His brutal hit on Minnesota punt returner Manfred Moore in the fourth quarter caused Moore to fumble, with Dallas’ Jay Saldi recovering in Minnesota territory. Dallas then drove for the score that put the game away, with the final points coming on a beautiful Dorsett touchdown scamper around right end on which the Pitt product displayed his trademark acceleration.

On the day, Dallas caused four Minnesota turnovers, sacked Vikings’ quarterback Bob Lee twice and outgained the visitors by 114 yards.  A potent Dallas’ rushing attack  gained 170 yards on the day, with Newhouse posting a game high 81 and Dorsett chipping in with 71 more.

With team that had numerous stars on both offense and defense, a special teams group that could make big plays and a head coach whose innovation and game planning were second to none, the Cowboys made short work of the NFC in 1977.   Two weeks after their championship game win over Minnesota, the Cowboys would prove that they were the NFL’s best with a convincing victory over Denver in Super Bowl 12.