Kitti's posts on the players from Cowboys teams of the past have inspired me to review and reflect on some on some of the most exciting and disappointing games in Cowboys history. I'll start with one of the lowest points in my 50+ years as a Cowboys fan. In those years I've experienced some excruciating lows and exhilarating highs (some even in the same game). As a result I have developed an "it's not over until it's over" approach to the season and even some games. As a case in point, one of the lowest lows for me and the Cowboys occurred in 1970.
In the previous 4 seasons, Dallas had lost to Green Bay in consecutive championship games, followed by consecutive first round losses to the Cleveland Browns. Fans and the media were getting impatient.
On November 16, 1970 Dallas faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the Cotton Bowl in the first Monday Night Football Game for both teams. Dallas is without Don Meredith and Don Perkins who have retired but Meredith is in the booth as a member of the MNF broadcast team. Craig Morton is the quarterback over Roger Staubach, who Landry felt lacked experience. Running backs are Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison. In the first quarter, the Cardinals' Johnny Roland returns a punt 74 yards for a touchdown. After half-time Dallas is down 17-0 and the crowd begins to chant, "We want Meredith, we want Meredith." On TV Meredith says " I ain't going back down there. I tell you that folks." Morton completes only 8 of 26 passes and is intercepted 3 times and Staubach is 2 of 8 and one interception. Morton and Staubach gain 44 yards rushing to add to 49 yards gained by Hill, Garrison, and Reeves. St. Louis outplays Dallas in every aspect of the game and Dallas loses 38-0 and falls to 5-4 and third place in the 5 team NFC East. The fans feel that a team with so many pro bowl players should be playing better and many call for Tom Landry to be fired.
(A bit of trivia) During the game, Play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson's pants caught on fire when a discarded cigarette ignited papers on the floor and then the cuff of his pants.
In a meeting following the game players feel the fans, the media, and the coaches had given up on them and decided they would play the rest of the season for themselves. Bob Lilly supposedly tells his teammates "we have them where we want them." Landry loosens up the practices and meetings, They win the five remaining games in dominating fashion as St. Louis and Washington falter and Dallas finishes in first place in the East. The following week they beat Detroit 5-0 in what some describe as one of the hardest hitting games of all time. After beating San Francisco on the road they face the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl (the first time that it is called that) and lose 16-13 on a field goal with 5 seconds remaining. The game is known as the blunder bowl due to the 11 turnovers (7 by Baltimore), 13 penalties by Dallas, and a controversial fumble recovered by Baltimore even though Dave Manders came up with the ball. Chuck Howley becomes the first defensive player and the only one from a losing team to be named MVP (announced at the 2 minute warning). One year later in Tulane Stadium, Dallas claims the first of 5 Super Bowl victories.