Tag: Ron Springs

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.

 

Cowboys’ Comeback Win Over Bucs in 1983 Ranks as One of the Most Exciting Games in Cowboys’ History

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Rafael Septien’s 42 yard field goal with 10:22 left in overtime gave the Cowboys a thrilling 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 9, 1983.

For the Tampa Bay Bucs, road trips to Dallas have almost always ended in futility. Tampa has visited Dallas 11 times, including two playoff games, and has won only one of those games.  Some of Dallas’ wins over the Bucs have been of the blowout variety, including a 38-0 whitewashing of Tampa in the first round of the 1981 playoffs and a 38-10 rout of the Bucs on Thanksgiving Day in 2006 when young quarterback Tony Romo shredded Tampa’s defense for five touchdown passes.

Not all Cowboys’ wins over Tampa have been easy, and that certainly was not the case on October 9, 1983 when the 5-0 Cowboys took on the 0-5 Bucs on a day when Cowboys’ legendary retired quarterback Roger Staubach joined the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

Tampa showed that it was going to be a tough out on this day on the Cowboys’ first possession when Mark Cotney intercepted Danny White on Dallas’ sixth play to help set up a Bill Capece 48 yard field goal that gave Tampa a 3-0 lead.

Dallas bounced back on its next possession when White connected with a Ron Springs on an 80 yard scoring pass on a third and ten play that put the Cowboys on top 7-3.  Later in the first quarter, Tampa had an 80 yard play of its own that helped the visitors take the lead.  Deep in his own territory and facing a second and 16 situation, Bucs’ quarterback Jack Thompson connected with talented tight end Jimmie Giles on an 80 yard pass play the ended with Giles being tackled by Dallas’ Michael Downs at the Dallas nine yard line. On the next play, Thompson threw a touchdown pass to James Owens to put Tampa back in front by a 10-7 score.

The second quarter was relatively uneventful until close to the five minute mark when Dennis Thurman recovered a James Wilder fumble at the Tampa 23 yard line to set up Timmy Newsome’s one yard run with 1:56 to go that put Dallas on top by 14-10.  A quick three and out series by the Bucs gave Dallas a chance to pad its lead, but White was intercepted by Tampa safety Cedric Brown to give the visitors a chance to cut into Dallas’ lead.  Brown’s fine play went for naught however when Capece missed a 47 yard field goal attempt at the end of the half.

The third quarter began with the teams exchanging punts, but Tampa got things going on its second possession.  On a third and six play from its own 44, Thompson found speedy receiver James Owens behind the Cowboys’ defense for a 56 yard scoring play that shocked the Cowboys and their fans and put the underdog Bucs up 17-14.

Dallas evened the score at 17-17 on its next possession when it drove 55 yards, aided by a 42 yard pass interference call on the Bucs, to set up a 41 yard field goal by Rafael Septien.

Wilder redeemed himself for his first half fumble in the fourth quarter when his 23 yard scoring run with 8:53 left in the game put Tampa in front by a 24-17 score.  Tampa’s lead looked secure later in the quarter when a White pass into the Tampa end zone was intercepted by Brown with 1:53 left in the game.

After Tampa failed to pick up a first down in its subsequent possession, the Cowboys took over at their own 26 with 1:19 left to go. On a day when the team honored Captain Comeback, White and the 1983 Cowboys would have to channel some of Staubach’s magic to remain undefeated.

White and Springs hooked up for three completions, including a key seven yard gain on third and six to put Dallas at the Tampa 48 with under a minute to play.  On the next play, White threw to Newsome on the left sideline and Newsome navigated through the Bucs defense on a thrilling, tip-toe journey down the sideline that ended with a Cowboys 52 yard score that sent the game into overtime.

The Cowboys received the ball in the overtime session, taking over at their own 10 yard line after an illegal block penalty on the kickoff return.  On second and five from the Dallas 15,  White hooked up with wide receiver Butch Johnson on a 46 yard pass play that brought the ball to the Tampa 39.  Dallas could gain only six yards on its next three plays, so Coach Tom Landry sent in Septien to try to win the game with a 50 yard field goal. Septien’s attempt was short, but Tampa’s Thomas Morris ran into the Cowboys’ kicker trying to block the kick and gave the Cowboys new life with a first down at the Bucs’ 28.  Four plays later, Septien kicked a 42 yard field goal to win the game and keep the Cowboys undefeated.

Dallas’ thrilling win was aided by 14 Tampa penalties, including five for pass interference. White was intercepted three times by the feisty Bucs’ defense, but threw for 377 yards as Dallas finished with 444 yards of total offense.  The Cowboys would go on to finish 12-4 and earn an NFC wildcard playoff spot, while Tampa would lose its first nine games and finish with a 2-14 mark.