The Dallas Cowboys aren’t strangers to having two running backs with game-changing talent on their roster at one time. Some of the more successful duos in their history include Herschel Walker and Tony Dorsett (1986-1987), Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse (1977-1983), Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison (1969-1974), and Don Perkins and Dan Reeves (1965-1968). All incredible duos that help these Cowboy offense at different times throughout the team's long history.
A recent article ranked the top 50 running back duos in NFL history, and these men comprised four out of the 50 duos. Here’s what he had to say about each one.
47. Herschel Walker and Tony Dorsett, Dallas Cowboys
Stats as a tandem (1986-1987)
Herschel Walker: 1,628 rush yards, 1,552 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns
Tony Dorsett: 1,204 rush yards and eight touchdowns
This has more to do with the obvious transition the Dallas Cowboys were making at the time. Tom Landry was a couple years away from being replaced by Jimmy Johnson, and Jerry Jones would soon become their owner. It was pretty much out with the old and in with the new.
Still, to have two players of this caliber in the same backfield had to be something for the fans of this mediocre team. Dallas didn’t finish above .500 in either of the seasons Dorsett and Walker were together, but their union signaled something far greater. Tony Dorsett was the last man standing for a franchise that had built itself up to being “America’s Team.”
At this time Dorsett was winding down his career, and Walker was soon to change the fortunes of the Cowboys in one of the most lopsided trade in NFL history. But for a brief time, they trod the field together.
36. Don Perkins and Dan Reeves, Dallas Cowboys
Statistics as a tandem (1965-1968)
Don Perkins: 3,085 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
Dan Reeves: 1,640 rushing yards, 1,341 receiving yards, 35 touchdowns
Many of us remember Dan Reeves manning the sidelines for the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. However, long before that he was part of a great backfield for Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys.
Throughout his NFL career, Reeves would compile nearly 4,000 total yards and a whopping 84 touchdowns. Not staggering statistics, because he would join a Dallas running game led by Don Perkins, who had already made three Pro Bowl appearances prior to the 1965 season.
In just four seasons together the two would combine for nearly 7,000 total yards and help Dallas make the playoffs three separate times. The most historic of their games together would be the infamous “Ice Bowl,” in which the Green Bay Packers defeated Dallas 21-17 on New Year’s Eve 1967. Perkins and Reeves would combine for over half of the Cowboys’ yards in the defeat.
There aren't too many Cowboys fans today who watched these two on the field together. Perkins is among the long line of elite running backs for the Cowboys, and Reeves is probably remembered more today for his coaching than his playing days.
19. Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison, Dallas Cowboys
Statistics as a tandem (1969-1974)
Calvin Hill: 5,015 rush yards, 1,349 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns
Walt Garrison: 3,427 rush yards, 1,648 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns
Roger Staubach may have been the “star” of the Dallas Cowboys during this time, but he did get a lot of help from these two Pro Bowl backs.
Walt Garrison would join Dallas after being drafted in the fifth round of the 1966 draft, but he would only put up a total of 500 total yards in the three seasons prior to Hill’s arrival. Once Calvin Hill was drafted in the first round of the 1969 draft, the rest was history.
The Dallas Cowboys would finish with a winning record in each of the six seasons that these two played together, winning double-digit games five consecutive times. During this span Hill and Garrison rewrote Cowboy history books. They combined for a remarkable 78 touchdowns, while compiling over 11,000 total yards.
Dallas would make four playoff appearances and two Super Bowl appearances and finally win the diamond ring in 1971 against the Miami Dolphins. Still, these two individuals remain a couple of the most unheralded in Cowboys history. That 1971 season saw Duane Thomas, an average back, lead Dallas in rushing, not Hill or Garrison.
This was the start of the Cowboys glory days of the 70’s, a decade they would have totally dominated if not for those pesky Pittsburgh Steelers.
11. Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse, Dallas Cowboys
Stats as a tandem (1977-1983)
Tony Dorsett: 8,336 rush yards, 2,080 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns
Robert Newhouse: 2,351 rush yards and 25 touchdowns
Tony Dorsett can thank Robert Newhouse for a lot of his success in the NFL. The latter acted as a lead blocker for Dorsett for the better part of a decade and was able to actually touch the ball a few times himself.
Dorsett was the Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher until Emmitt Smith later shattered that record. Newhouse still holds the record for most rushing yards by a Dallas Cowboys fullback.
Dallas would win four division titles and go to the Super Bowl twice, winning it in 1977. The two combined for over 120 rushing yards in the victory against Denver, a team that Dorsett would end up finishing his career with.
Dorsett was so good he makes the list twice, and who could forget Newhouse, The Human Bowling Ball with legs as big as tree trunks.
That’s a lot of great players for this franchise that gave fans plenty of memories. Maybe there is a duo like that on the Cowboys roster right now in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Both have game-changing skills sets that complement each other with Elliott the bigger, bruising back and Pollard the shifty and explosive one. They both can run between the tackles or bounce it outside, and they both are talented catching the ball out of the backfield making them difficult matchups for opposing linebackers.
The Cowboys have seen firsthand what two talented running backs can do to a defense when they played the Cleveland Browns last season. It’s time for Dallas to do the same and unleash their two-headed monster out of the backfield. It shouldn't just be Elliott carrying 70%-80% of the load like he has been the past few years. They need to split the reps up more in an effort to keep both running backs fresh throughout the entire season, and not continue to run Elliott into the ground.
Pollard showed everyone last season that he deserves a larger share of the touches and head coach Mike McCarthy should have seen that. Hopefully they will split the load and give this offense even more juice, and keep the legs fresh down the stretch to wear down defenses.
The Cowboys have a powerful aerial attack with Dak Prescott and the three amigos at wide receiver, but they could complement that with a decent running game. A running game that is more than just Elliott, but a true timeshare with Pollard.