Dear readers: I have been a Cowboys fan since the NFC Championship Game in 1975, when Captain America, Roger Staubach, led our brave 'Boys to a 37-7 thrashing of the favored Rams. Since then, I have watched almost every regular season game (I confess to missing a couple) and have been in attendance on numerous occasions. That's all well and good, but it doesn't help much when it comes time for me to compile a list of the best Cowboys regular season games--I mean, there had to be worthy contests from 1960 to 74, right? What to do?
Well, ol' Rabble's more clever than he looks. I contacted our good buddy, Longball, who you should remember from our pre- and post-draft conversations with Drafttek, an online scouting concern. Not only is Longball a scout, he's also a BTB member and has been a Cowboys fan since game one. This week's edition of the top games is therefore a guest column; LB will look at some good-uns from the first fifteen years or so of the Cowboys' glorious history. Without further adoo, please put your hands together for our resident greybeard. Take it away, Longball...
Rabblerouser called me on the toll-free hotline (1-800-OLD-FART) to ask my memories of the more exciting Cowboy regular season games prior to the 1975 season. Of course I said yes and then remembered my memory is not what it used to be; therefore, I decided to limit my choices to games I had attended in person. I will admit to digging back through some archives for statistics that you may find enlightening – some of the numbers may amaze you, as Dallas never was a "3 yards and a cloud of dust" team, even in the early years.
I also decided not to focus on famous games, so although the tie game with New York (the only non-loss of their inaugural season) all the way through to the Clint Longley game against the Redskins in 1974 were significant, I will not be discussing those games, as you’ve probably heard about them ad nauseum.
After the jump, check out which games make Longball's list.12/2/62 Beat Cleveland at Cotton Bowl 45-21
One helluva defensive performance against a quality opponent – Chuck Howley intercepted Frank Ryan, who had 268 yards passing and one 16 yard run and the soon-to-be "Doomsday" held the great Jim Brown to 29 rushing yards on 8 attempts and Ernie Green to 16 yards on 4 attempts. Meredith and LeBaron were near flawless, completing 80% of their 20 attempts for 200 yards, 3 TD’s and only 1 INT (LeBaron) due to excellent play-action fakes – Amos Marsh rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries and Don Perkins pitched in 92 yards on 22 carries.
9/20/64 Beat Washington at Cotton Bowl 24-18
A couple of firsts here – first year of the new uniforms and first time Sonny Jurgensen appeared in the Cotton Bowl as QB of the Redskins. Believe it or not, Charley Taylor had more rushes (10) than pass receptions (1), but for fewer yards (37 vs. 41). Rookie Mel Renfro stole the show, as he returned an interception 39 yards for a TD and had 155 yards on 5 kick-off returns plus another 37 yards on 4 punt returns.
11/7/65 Beat San Francisco at Cotton Bowl 39-31
An entertaining game that started early, as Mel Renfro returned the opening kick-off 100 yards for a TD. George Mira (49er QB) had a rough day, as the Cowboys front four was relentless in their pass rush. He got frustrated in the 2nd quarter and threw a pass right at Bob Lilly’s face mask – Lilly intercepted the ball (said later it stuck right in his outstretched hands) and rumbled 17 yards in for a TD. His partner, George Andrie got into the action as well, recovering a fumble in the end zone for a TD. The passing games were going for both teams, but I remember 49er FB Ken Willard pounding the middle for rushing yards.
11/13/66 Beat Washington there 31-30
Yep, Old Long Ball was in DC for this barn-burner – both QB’s were hot as pistols, as Sonny Jurgensen was 26 of 46 for 347 yards and 3 TD’s...but Dandy Don Meredith was 21 of 29 for 406 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT. Charley Taylor caught 11 passes for 199 yards...but Bob Hayes caught 9 passes for 246 yards! But enough of statistics, let’s talk about the game...in the 1st quarter, Don Meredith’s QB sneak was negated by 2 Charlie Gogolak field goals. Then, the fireworks started as Dandy hit Bullet for a 52 yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter – after halftime, Dandy aired a 95 yard bomb to Bullet, but then Sonny loosened up his pitchin’ shoulder and after a 4 yard TD pass to TE Jerry Smith, went bombs away to Charley Taylor for a 78 yard TD pass. Gogolak kicked another FG to give the Redskins a 23-21 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. Dallas marched down the field in the 4th quarter, mixing the run and pass and Dan Reeves plunged in from the 1 to give them a 28-23 lead. However, Jurgensen wasn’t done, as he took the Redskins down the field, hitting Taylor for the go-ahead TD from 18 yards out. Landry had Meredith take the air out of the ball with a game ending drive and Danny Villanueva was good from 20 yards out for the 1 point victory.
11/25/71 Beat Los Angeles at Texas Stadium 28-21
My first game at Texas Stadium, as all I could get that Thanksgiving were end zone seats. Rookie Ike Thomas returned the opening kick-off for a TD, coming right at us in the end zone – I remember watching how the blocking was set up and he brought it right up the middle (footnote: he also returned the opening kick-off for a TD against the Jets the following week). The Rams still had their classic blue/white uniforms but were wearing the blue jerseys as visitors...Roman Gabriel did not disappoint, as he drove the Rams down the field in methodical fashion, Larry Smith plunging over from the 1. The Cowboys had trouble mounting a drive against the Rams defense and Gabriel hit Bob Klein for a 33 yard TD pass to end the 1st quarter. Roger Staubach hit Bob Hayes with a 51 yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter to tie the game at halftime. Roger then hit Lance Alworth from 21 yards out to take the lead in the 3rd quarter, but Gabriel drove the Rams back down and hit Pat Curran from 2 yards out. Thank goodness for Chuck Howley – he always seemed to come up with a big play, intercepting Gabriel and returning it 12 yards, allowing Duane Thomas to score from 5 yards out and win the game.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this stroll down memory lane...sure hope we have NFL football this year to add to the memories!
I guess old guys CAN master that Internet doo-hickey! Great stuff, as always, LB. We look forward to more conversations when the season gets underway.