Before he was the head coach in Dallas, Tom Landry was a New York Giant. As a player he was a Pro Bowl defensive back, but it was as a member of the Giants coaching staff that Landry made his first real mark on pro football. He perfected the 4-3 defensive scheme to best utilize the talents of Hall of Famer Sam Huff.
Landry, along with Vince Lombardi, played a key role in building the Giants dynasty of the 1950’s but as that glory era began to wind down both men left New York for new roles as head coaches.
Landry, a native Texan, found a home in Dallas, and although he would not find the immediate success that Lombardi found in Green Bay, his initial taste of progress came against his old team.
The Cowboys and Giants met for the first time in old Yankee Stadium on December 4, 1960. New York was not having the best of seasons but with a 5-3-1 record they were expected to hand the upstart Cowboys their eleventh consecutive defeat.
After all the Giants were still in contention for the NFL Eastern Division crown and the Cowboys were playing with a group of NFL cast-offs that would soon be out of the league.
The Giants jumped out to an early lead, tallying touchdowns from Mel Triplett and Joe Morrison in the first quarter. New York held an early 14-0 lead.
Before the quarter was finished L. G. DuPre found paydirt on a five-yard run to bring Dallas to within a touchdown of the home team.
Both teams found the endzone once more in the second quarter. New York QB George Shaw found Kyle Rote for the New York score while Eddie Lebaron found DuPre for his second touchdown on the afternoon. Dallas kicker Fred Cone tacked on a short field goal right before the half.
New York led 21-17 at the intermission.
The third quarter was relatively uneventful. Pat Summerall added the only points of the stanza, a field goal that expanded the Giants lead to seven points.
The scoring picked up in the final quarter. Lebaron and DuPre hooked up once again to open the scoring. The two teams were tied up. The Giants, now with their backup passer at the helm, answered with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Lee Grosscup to Bob Schnelker. The Giants had regained the lead.
As the clock wound toward zero, Eddie Lebaron led the Dallas offense down the field for one final drive. Late in the quarter he hit Billy Howton for an eleven-yard touchdown. Cone tacked on the extra point to tie the score at 31.
That was the way the first contest ended. The Cowboys would lose the following week to end the season 0-11-1, but the tie against the New York Giants was a stepping stone for the future. For the first time the ‘Boys did not lose a game.
It may not have been much for the Cowboys, but the tie, their second of the season, was fatal for the Giants. It cost them the Eastern Division crown. Although they would win the division in each of the next three seasons, Dallas had prevented them from doing so in 1960.