1978 Dallas Cowboys season
OwnerClint Murchison, Jr.
Head coachTom Landry
General managerTex Schramm
Home fieldTexas Stadium
Results
Record12–4
Division place1st NFC East
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. Falcons) 27–20
Won NFC Championship (at Rams) 28–0
Lost Super Bowl XIII (vs. Steelers) 31–35

The 1978 Dallas Cowboys season was their 19th in the NFL. For the third consecutive season, the Cowboys finished in first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys scored 384 points, which ranked first in the league, while the defense only gave up 208 points, 3rd best in the league. Twice, the Cowboys appeared on Monday Night Football.

The Cowboys became the first franchise to appear in five Super Bowls. With their loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIII, they also became the first team to lose a Super Bowl after having won it the previous year.

Draft

Main article: 1978 NFL Draft

1978 Dallas Cowboys draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 28 Larry Bethea  DE Michigan State
2 56 Todd Christensen *  TE BYU
3 84 Dave Hudgens  OT Oklahoma
4 110 Alois Blackwell  RB Houston
5 138 Rich Rosen  OG Syracuse
6 166 Harold Randolph  LB East Carolina
7 194 Tom Randall  DT Iowa State
8 222 Homer Butler  WR UCLA
9 250 Russ Williams  DB Tennessee
10 278 Barry Tomasetti  OT Iowa
11 306 Dennis Thurman *  CB USC
12 334 Lee Washburn  OG Montana
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Regular season

The defending Super Bowl champions were again led by quarterback Roger Staubach. Staubach finished the season as the top rated passer in the NFL (84.9) by throwing 231 out of 413 completions for 3,190 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 182 yards and another touchdown. Wide receivers Drew Pearson and Tony Hill provided the deep passing threats, combining for 90 receptions, 537 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Tight end Billy Joe Dupree contributed 34 receptions for 509 yards and 9 touchdowns. Running back Tony Dorsett had another fine season, recording a total of 1703 combined rushing and receiving yards, and scoring a total of 9 touchdowns. Fullback Robert Newhouse and halfback Preston Pearson also contributed from the offensive backfield, combining for 1,326 rushing and receiving yards, while Newhouse also scored 10 touchdowns. The Cowboys also had a superb offensive line, led by Herbert Scott and 12-time Pro Bowler Rayfield Wright

The Cowboys' "Doomsday Defense" finished the season as the top-ranked defense in the league against the run by only allowing 107.6 yards per game. Pro Bowl linemen Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin and Randy White anchored the line, while linebackers Bob Breunig, D. D. Lewis and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson provided solid support. Their secondary, led by safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters, along with cornerbacks Benny Barnes and Aaron Kyle, combined for 16 interceptions.

The Cowboys started the regular season slowly, winning only six of their first ten games. Both the offense and the defense played ineffectively, including giving up interceptions and fumbles. Dallas finished strong, winning their last six regular season games to post a 12–4 record.

In the aftermath of the season, NFL Films produced its annual highlight reel as it does for every NFL team. Notable of the highlight reel was the title "America's Team". It would come to be a label that would define the Dallas Cowboys for the rest of their history. However, the label is most remembered for the Cowboys of this era, appearing in three Super Bowls in four years and claiming a unique spotlight in the American consciousness.

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance Recap
1 September 4 Baltimore Colts W 38–0 1–0 Texas Stadium 64,224 Recap
2 September 10 at New York Giants W 34–24 2–0 Giants Stadium 73,265 Recap
3 September 17 at Los Angeles Rams L 14–27 2–1 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 65,749 Recap
4 September 24 St. Louis Cardinals W 21–12 3–1 Texas Stadium 62,760 Recap
5 October 2 at Washington Redskins L 5–9 3–2 RFK Stadium 55,031 Recap
6 October 8 New York Giants W 24–3 4–2 Texas Stadium 63,420 Recap
7 October 15 at St. Louis Cardinals W 24–21 (OT) 5–2 Busch Memorial Stadium 48,991 Recap
8 October 22 Philadelphia Eagles W 14–7 6–2 Texas Stadium 60,525 Recap
9 October 26 Minnesota Vikings L 10–21 6–3 Texas Stadium 61,848 Recap
10 November 5 at Miami Dolphins L 16–23 6–4 Orange Bowl 69,414 Recap
11 November 12 at Green Bay Packers W 42–14 7–4 Milwaukee County Stadium 55,256 Recap
12 November 19 New Orleans Saints W 27–7 8–4 Texas Stadium 57,920 Recap
13 November 23 Washington Redskins W 37–10 9–4 Texas Stadium 64,905 Recap
14 December 3 New England Patriots W 17–10 10–4 Texas Stadium 63,263 Recap
15 December 10 at Philadelphia Eagles W 31–13 11–4 Veterans Stadium 64,667 Recap
16 December 17 at New York Jets W 30–7 12–4 Shea Stadium 52,532 Recap

Division opponents are in bold text

Game notes

Week 1


1 234Total
Colts(0-1) 0 000 0
Cowboys(1-0) 0 21143 38
  • Date: September 4
  • Location: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
  • Game start: 8:00 p.m.(ET)
  • Game attendance: 64,224
  • Game weather: 87°F, wind 8
  • Referee: Jim Tunney
  • TV announcers (ABC): Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith

[1]

Week 2

1 234Total
Cowboys (2-0) 7 1467 34
Giants (1-1) 0 7107 24
  • Date: September 10
  • Location: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 73,265
  • Game weather: 61°F, wind 14 mph
  • TV announcers (CBS): Don Criqui, Tom Brookshier, and Sonny Jurgensen

Week 3

Dallas Cowboys 14 at Los Angeles Rams 27
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (2-1) 0 7 0714
Rams (3-0) 7 7 01327

at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

  • Date: Sunday, September 17, 1978
  • Game time: 4:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 67 degrees, relative humidity 77%, wind 10 mph
  • Game attendance: 65,749
  • Referee: Chuck Heberling
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information

The week-3 contest between the Rams and Cowboys was a hard-fought early season match-up between two rivals who hated each other. Twice the Rams led by a touchdown during the game, only to have the Cowboys come back to even up the score. With the game tied at 14–14 in the 4th quarter, QB-Pat Haden connected with WR-Willie Miller for a 43-yard touchdown reception to increase the Rams lead by 6-points. But, after the Rams FG-kicker (Frank Corral) missed the easy extra point the score remained 20–14, leaving the Rams desperately clinging to a 6-point lead against a Cowboys team well known for pulling-out close games late in the 4th-quarter.

However, the Rams defense abruptly put an end to the Cowboys hopes of engineering another last minute victory after DB-Rod Perry intercepted a pass from QB-Roger Staubach and returned it for a 43-yrd TD to secure the Rams 27–14 victory. In response to Perry's game winning interception return, over 65,000 fans that filled Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that day simultaneously erupted into a bedlam of deafening cheers. Then, what started off as an extremely raucous celebration soon developed into jeering and taunting of the Cowboys during the last few minutes of the game, by both the fans and quite a few of the Rams players too. This provoked a very rare angry response from Staubach, who was seen pointing his finger at the boisterous Rams players on the sideline, telling them that the Cowboys "will get them" the next time they meet each other.

Week 4

St. Louis Cardinals 12 at Dallas Cowboys 21
1 2 34Total
Cardinals (0-4) 7 3 2012
Cowboys (3-1) 0 7 01421

at Texas Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, September 24, 1978
  • Game time: 4:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 76 degrees, relative humidity 70%, wind 5 mph
  • Game attendance: 62,760
  • Referee: Bob Frederic
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall, Sonny Jurgensen and Tom Brookshier
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

  • Cardinals – Safety, Thaxton blocked punt out of end zone – 12-7 STL

Fourth quarter

Vegas Line

  • Dallas Cowboys -17.0

Week 5

Dallas Cowboys 5 at Washington Redskins 9
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (3-2) 0 0 325
Redskins (5-0) 3 3 309

at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium

  • Date: Monday, October 2, 1978
  • Game time: 9:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 68 degrees, relative humidity 58%, wind 13 mph
  • Game attendance: 55,031
  • Referee: Gene Barth
  • TV announcers (ABC): Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
First quarter

Second quarter

  • Wash – Mark Moseley 19 yard field goal – Dal 0, Wash 6

Third quarter

  • Dal – Rafael Septién 19 yard field goal – Dal 3, Wash 6
  • Wash – Mark Moseley 27 yard field goal – Dal 3, Wash 9

Fourth quarter

Vegas Line

  • Dallas Cowboys -4.5

Week 6

1 234Total
Giants(3-3) 0 300 3
Cowboys(4-2) 7 773 24
  • Date: October 8
  • Location: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: 69°F • Wind 10
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier

[2]

Week 7

Dallas Cowboys 24 at St. Louis Cardinals 21
1 2 34OTTotal
Cowboys (5-2) 0 7 140324
Cardinals (0-7) 7 7 07021

at Busch Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, October 15, 1978
  • Game time: 2:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 48 degrees, relative humidity 67%, wind 11 mph
  • Game attendance: 48,991
  • TV announcers (CBS): Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter

Overtime

Vegas Line

  • Dallas Cowboys -13.5

Week 8

Philadelphia Eagles 7 at Dallas Cowboys 14
1 2 34Total
Eagles (4-4) 0 0 707
Cowboys (6-2) 0 14 0014

at Texas Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, October 22, 1978
  • Game time: 2:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 76 degrees, relative humidity 51%, wind 14 mph
  • Game attendance: 60,525
  • Referee: Red Cashion
  • TV: CBS
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information

Week 9

Minnesota Vikings 21 at Dallas Cowboys 10
1 2 34Total
Vikings (5-4) 14 7 0021
Cowboys (6-3) 0 3 7010

at Texas Stadium

  • Date: Thursday, October 26, 1978
  • Game time: 8:30pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 61 degrees, relative humidity 58%, wind 11 mph
  • Game attendance: 61,848
  • TV announcers (ABC): Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com

Week 10

Dallas Cowboys 16 at Miami Dolphins 23
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (6-4) 0 3 6716
Dolphins (7-3) 17 3 0323

at Orange Bowl

Game information
First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

  • Cowboys – Rafael Septién 39 yard field goal – 20-6 Miami
  • Cowboys – Rafael Septién 24 yard field goal – 20-9 Miami

Fourth quarter

Vegas Line

  • Miami Dolphins -1.0

Week 11

Dallas Cowboys 42 at Green Bay Packers 14
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (7-4) 7 14 14742
Packers (7-4) 7 0 0714

at Milwaukee County Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, November 12, 1978
  • Game time: 4:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 31 °F (−1 °C), humidity 73%, wind 14 mph, wind chill 21 °F (−6 °C)
  • Game attendance: 55,256
  • Referee: Jim Tunney
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
Team Stats Dal GNB
First downs 32 9
Rush-yards-TDs 58-313-4 17-66-1
Net pass yards 224 76
Comp-Att-Yd-TD-INT 21-34-234-2-0 7-26-88-1-2
Sacked-yards 2-10 3-12
Total yards 537 142
Turnovers 2 3
Penalties-yards 9-80 6-41

Week 12

1 234Total
Saints(5-7) 7 000 7
Cowboys(8-4) 0 1476 27
  • Date: November 19
  • Location: Texas Stadium, Dallas, Texas
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 53°F, wind 6 mph
  • Referee: Fred Silva
  • Television network: CBS

Week 13

Washington Redskins 10 at Dallas Cowboys 37
1 2 34Total
Redskins (8-5) 0 0 3710
Cowboys (9-4) 13 7 10737

at Texas Stadium

  • Date: Thursday, November 23, 1978
  • Game time: 3:30pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 61 degrees, relative humidity 88%, wind 7 mph
  • Referee: Dick Jorgensen
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
Vegas Line
  • Dallas Cowboys -11.5

Week 14

New England Patriots 10 at Dallas Cowboys 17
1 2 34Total
Patriots (10-4) 7 3 0010
Cowboys (10-4) 3 0 7717

at Texas Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, December 3, 1978
  • Game time: 4:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 48 degrees, relative humidity 70%, wind 16 mph
  • Referee: Cal Lepore
  • TV announcers (NBC): Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
Vegas Line
  • Dallas Cowboys -6.5

Week 15

Dallas Cowboys 31 at Philadelphia Eagles 13
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (11-4) 14 0 10731
Eagles (8-7) 7 0 0613

at Veterans Stadium

  • Date: Sunday, December 10, 1978
  • Game time: 1:00pm(ET)
  • Game weather: 31 degrees, relative humidity 51%, wind 18 mph, wind chill 19
  • Referee: Gene Barth
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
Vegas Line
  • Dallas Cowboys -4.5

Week 16

1 234Total
Cowboys (12-4) 7 3137 30
Jets(8-8) 0 007 7

[3]

Standings

NFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Dallas Cowboys(2) 12 4 0 .750 7–1 9–3 384 208 W6
Philadelphia Eagles(5) 9 7 0 .563 4–4 6–6 270 250 W1
Washington Redskins 8 8 0 .500 4–4 6–6 273 283 L5
St. Louis Cardinals 6 10 0 .375 3–5 6–6 248 296 W1
New York Giants 6 10 0 .375 2–6 5–9 264 298 L1

Roster

Dallas Cowboys 1978 roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Rookies in italics
45 active, 3 inactive

Postseason

Main article: 1978–79 NFL playoffs

Round Date Opponent Result Game Site Attendance Recap
Wild Card First Round Bye
Divisional December 30, 1978 Atlanta Falcons (4) W 27–20 Texas Stadium 60,338 Recap
NFC Championship January 7, 1979 at Los Angeles Rams (1) W 28–0 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 67,470 Recap
Super Bowl January 21, 1979 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (A 1) L 31–35 Orange Bowl 79,484 Recap

NFC Divisional Playoff

Dallas Cowboys 27, Atlanta Falcons 20
1 2 34Total
Falcons 7 13 0020
Cowboys 10 3 7727

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

  • Date: December 30, 1978
  • Game time: 4:00 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 38 degrees, relative humidity 97%, wind 15 mph, wind chill 29 degrees
  • Game attendance: 60,338
  • Referee: Cal Lepore
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier
Game information
  • Vegas Line: Cowboys -15.0
  • Scoring
    • DAL – field goal Septién 34 DAL 3–0
    • ATL – Bean 14 run (Mazzetti kick) ATL 7–3
    • DAL – Laidlaw 13 run (Septién kick) DAL 10–7
    • ATL – field goal Mazzetti 42 10–10
    • DAL – field goal Septién 48 DAL 13–10
    • ATL – Francis 17 pass from Bartkowski (Mazzetti kick) ATL 17–13
    • ATL – field goal Mazzetti 22 ATL 20–13
    • DAL – Smith 2 pass from D. White (Septién kick) 20–20
    • DAL – Laidlaw 1 run (Septién kick) DAL 27–20

Dallas' "Doomsday Defense" limited Atlanta quarterback Steve Bartkowski to only 8 completions in 23 attempts and intercepted him 3 times en route to victory. After the Falcons led 20–13 at halftime, the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered points in the second half.

NFC Championship Game

Dallas Cowboys 28, Los Angeles Rams 0
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 0 0 72128
Rams 0 0 000

at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

Game information

Super Bowl XIII

Dallas Cowboys 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 35
1 2 34Total
Steelers (AFC) 7 14 01435
Cowboys (NFC) 7 7 31431

at Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Game information
  • Scoring
  • PIT – TD: John Stallworth 28-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw (Roy Gerela kick) 7–0 PIT
  • DAL – TD: Tony Hill 39-yard pass from Roger Staubach (Rafael Septién kick) 7–7 tie
  • DAL – TD: Mike Hegman 37-yard fumble return (Rafael Septién kick) 14–7 DAL
  • PIT – TD: John Stallworth 75-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw (Roy Gerela kick) 14–14 tie
  • PIT – TD: Rocky Bleier 7-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw (Roy Gerela kick) 21–14 PIT
  • DAL – FG: Rafael Septién 27 yards 21–17 PIT
  • PIT – TD: Franco Harris 22-yard run (Roy Gerela kick) 28–17 PIT
  • PIT – TD: Lynn Swann 18-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw (Roy Gerela kick) 35–17 PIT
  • DAL – TD: Billy Joe DuPree 7-yard pass from Roger Staubach (Rafael Septién kick) 35–24 PIT
  • DAL – TD: Butch Johnson 4-yard pass from Roger Staubach (Rafael Septién kick) 35–31 PIT

Super Bowl XIII can arguably be called the greatest collection of NFL talent ever to gather for a game. In additions to Coaches Noll and Landry, 16 players would go on to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame: 9 from Pittsburgh (Bradshaw, Harris, Swann, Stallworth, Webster, Greene, Lambert, Ham, and Blount), and 7 from Dallas (Staubach, Dorsett, Drew Pearson, Randy White, Rayfield Wright, Cliff Harris and Jackie Smith).

Much of the pregame hype surrounding Super Bowl XIII centered around Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Henderson caused quite a stir before the NFC Championship Game by claiming that the Rams had "no class" and the Cowboys would shut them out. His prediction turned out to be very accurate; the Cowboys did shut them out, aided by Henderson's 68-yard interception return for a touchdown.

In the days leading up the Super Bowl, Henderson began talking about the Steelers in the same manner. He predicted another shutout and then made unfriendly comments about several Pittsburgh players. He put down the talent and the intelligence of Bradshaw, proclaiming "Bradshaw couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'". But the Steelers refused to get into a war of words with Henderson. Greene responded by saying the Steelers didn't need to say they were the best, they would just go out on the field and "get the job done".

Season recap

There was a lot of bitter feelings between the Dallas Cowboys and the LA Rams prior to their '78 NFC Championship contest. Both the Cowboys and Vikings shared a common recent history of eliminating the LA Rams from the playoffs the last 5-seasons in a row. Consigning the Rams to being labeled, "next year's champions" for most of the 1970s. So, when the undefeated (2-0) Cowboys traveled to Los Angeles to play the undefeated (2-0) Rams during week-3 of the 1978 regular season, the Rams were looking for blood. Not only did the Rams want to beat the Cowboys for a measure of revenge and early bragging rights, but they could use a victory over last year's Super Bowl champions to make a statement to the media and the rest of the league, "That 1978 was the year the Rams finally win a championship".

The week-3 contest between the Rams and Cowboys was a hard-fought early season match-up between two rivals who hated each other. Twice the Rams led by a touchdown only to have the Cowboys come back to even the score. With the game tied at 14–14 in the 4th quarter, QB-Pat Haden connected with WR-Willie Miller for a 43-yard touchdown reception to increase the Rams lead by 6-points. But, after the Rams FG-kicker (Frank Corral) missed the easy extra point the score remained 20–14, leaving the Rams desperately clinging to a 6-point lead against a Cowboys team well known for pulling-out close games late in the 4th-quarter.

However, the Rams defense abruptly put an end to the Cowboys hopes of engineering another last minute victory after DB-Rod Perry intercepted a pass from QB-Roger Staubach and returned it for a 43-yrd TD to secure the Rams 27–14 victory. In response to Perry's game winning interception return, over 65,000 fans that filled Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that day simultaneously erupted into a bedlam of deafening cheers. Then, what started off as an extremely raucous celebration soon developed into jeering and taunting of the Cowboys during the last few minutes of the game, by both the fans and quite a few of the Rams players too. This provoked a very rare angry response from Staubach, who was seen pointing his finger at the boisterous Rams players on the sideline, telling them that the Cowboys "will get them" the next time they meet each other.

The Cowboys returned to Los Angeles later that same season to play for the NFC Championship against the #1 seeded Rams. Both teams entered the playoffs with a 12-4 regular season record. Both teams defeated their first round opponents at home, which included a Rams 34-10 blowout over their other playoff nemesis, the Minnesota Vikings. And, as a result of that emotionally charged week-3 loss to the Rams, the Cowboys had to win the NFC Championship at the Coliseum in front of 67,470 hostile LA fans to earn a return trip to the Super Bowl to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had already won the AFC Championship against the Houston Oilers earlier that same day.

The stage was set for an epic NFC Championship match, and fueling the already combustible tensions was Cowboys LB-Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Earlier in the week, the national (and international) media had descended upon Thomas Henderson the day after the Cowboys' 27-20 1st round playoff victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Thomas was more than eager to feed them some controversial meat to chew on. Thomas began the week by suggesting that the reason the Rams never went to a Super Bowl was because they had "no class" as a team and organization. Thomas later claimed the Rams are a team of chokers, and the Rams were going to choke again in their upcoming game against the Cowboys.

The much anticipated NFC Championship game between the Rams and Cowboys began as a scoreless defensive struggle for nearly three quarters of play, which included Rams kicker Frank Corral missing two field goal attempts in the first half. However, Dallas eventually broke the scoreless match wide open late in the 3rd-quarter after forcing five 2nd-half turnovers that would eventually lead to a 28-point victory for the Cowboys. Earning them the opportunity to defend their NFL championship in Super Bowl XIII.

As usual, the Rams defense proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Cowboys offense, but, it all began to go horribly wrong for the Rams after Dallas safety Charlie Waters intercepted a pass and returned it to the Rams 10-yard line with 1:52 left in the 3rd-quarter. Five plays later, RB-Tony Dorsett (who finished the game with 101 rushing yards) scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 7–0 lead. On the Rams next possession, Charlie Waters snatched his 2nd interception of the game, which quickly set-up Staubach's 4-yard TD pass to FB-Scott Laidlaw, making it a 14-0 contest early in the 4th quarter. On the play that Rams QB-Pat Haden threw his 2nd interception, Haden's passing hand collided with DT-Randy White's helmet as he released the ball. Resulting in a broken right thumb and sidelining Haden for the rest of the game.

With 8:30 left in the 4th-quarter and the Rams still down 14–0, backup QB-Vince Ferragamo hit WR-Willie Miller along the sideline for a 65-yard pass, giving the Rams a 1st-down on the Cowboys 10-yard line and a chance to get back in the game. However, on a 1st-and-goal the Rams RB-Cullen Bryant fumbled the handoff and DE-Harvey Martin quickly recovered the ball at the 11-yard line. From there, the Cowboys marched 89-yards to score their 3rd offensive touchdown which featured a 53-yard run by Tony Dorsett, that eventually set-up an 11-yard TD reception from Staubach to TE-Billy Joe Dupree.

With the Cowboys sitting comfortably on top a 21–0 lead late in the 4th quarter, the CBS cameras panned over to Thomas Henderson standing on the sideline with their TV microphone on. Seizing the opportunity, Thomas looked directly at the camera and told the several million viewers, "It's 21-0, the Rams are choking, and I ain't through yet.". On the very next Rams possession, Thomas Henderson intercepted Ferragamo's pass along the sideline with 1:19 left in the game and returned it 68-yards for the final touchdown. While the touchdown interception return, and prior comments may have impressed millions of viewers, it was Henderson's celebratory football finger roll over the goal post that angered many others.

Henderson's TD celebration was later deemed by the media as "adding insult to injury", which amused Henderson and the millions of Cowboys fans worldwide. However, it also increased the huge divide between those who were already fans of the Cowboys and the people who hated them. With the win over the Rams the Cowboys advanced to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years to play a rematch of Super Bowl X against the Pittsburgh Steelers that would ultimately determine "The Team of the Decade".

Thomas Henderson's "controversial" comments before and during the NFC Championship game accelerated his already skyrocketing "Hollywood" persona into that of a pop-cultural phenomenon. Thomas Henderson was later featured on the cover of Time Magazine the week before the Super Bowl, and NBC anointed Henderson the "Muhammad Ali of the NFL" during the pre-game player introductions for Super Bowl XIII. ABC-TV decided to jump on the "Hollywood" Henderson band wagon by inviting him to compete on their popular annual Superstars competition immediately following the 28–0 victory over the Rams.

Awards and records

Milestones

Publications

References