ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The 1971 Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl VI Champions

Updated on January 21, 2012

The Dallas Cowboys franchise got off to a miserable start in their first season in 1960 with an 0-11-1 record. They had losing seasons for the first five years from 1960-1964. In 1965, things were getting better as they broke even with a 7-7 record. In 1966, the Cowboys posted their first winning record in franchise history and went on to lose to the Green Bay Packers for the right to go to Super Bowl I. In 1967, they lost again to the Packers in the now famous “Ice Bowl”.

Next Years Champions

The Cowboys were earning a reputation for not being able to win in big games. They were called “next years champions”. Following the 1970 season, they made it to the Super Bowl for the first time. The pressure the Cowboys were under for not winning a championship was evident. The Cowboys committed five turnovers in the game. They also had a lot of bad luck. One journalist said the game was “a series of freak plays that all went against the Cowboys”. The Cowboys lost the game on a last second field goal 16-13.

Off Season Changes

During the off season following the Super Bowl loss, Tex Schramm (the Cowboys General Manager) and head coach Tom Landry made some personnel changes to bring in some great players that were at the end of their careers to try to give the Cowboys the edge in the upcoming season. Among the players brought in were future hall of famers Mike Ditka, Lance Allworth, Forrest Gregg, and Herb Adderley.

Source

The Roster

The 1971 Cowboys had one of the most impressive rosters in NFL history. 11 of the 22 starters are either in the Hall of Fame or the Cowboys Ring of Honor. They had nine players, two coaches, and one executive make the Hall of Fame, for a total of 12 people from this team enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Three players, Mike Ditka, Dan Reeves, and Forrest Gregg all went on to have successful NFL head coaching careers.

On Offense, the Cowboys had six Hall of Fame players: quarterback Roger Staubach, wide receivers Lance Allworth and Bob Hayes, tight end Mike Ditka, offensive linemen Rayfield Wright and Forrest Gregg. On defense the Cowboys had three Hall of Fame players: Defensive Tackle Bob Lilly, cornerbacks Herb Adderley and Mel Renfro.

Training Camp

The 1971 training camp quickly turned into a soap opera. Duane Thomas, the Cowboys starting running back, asked the Cowboys for a new contract after being named NFL Rookie of the Year in 1970. The Cowboys refused, so Thomas staged a holdout. Thomas also talked to the media about how unfairly the Cowboys were treating him in his eyes. The Cowboys quietly traded Thomas to the New England Patriots. After five days, the Patriots asked NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle to rescind the trade and send Thomas back to the Cowboys because of his refusal to follow coaches instructions and his bad attitude. Rozelle granted the Patriots request and returned Thomas to the Cowboys. Thomas refused to speak to any of his teammates or coaches for the entire season.

Tom Landry with Roger Staubach and Craig Morton
Tom Landry with Roger Staubach and Craig Morton | Source

The Quarterback Shuttle

There was also a quarterback controversy that Landry created by not choosing a starting quarterback. Landry said the Cowboys had two starting quarterbacks. He alternated Craig Morton and Roger Staubach throughout games. This divided the team because they did not have a single leader on the field. In Week 7 against the Chicago Bears, Landry alternated his quarterbacks on every other play. It was called the quarterback shuttle by the media. The Cowboys lost the game, falling to 4-3. One writer at Sports Illustrated described the quarterback shuttle this way: “The operation was a success, but the patient died”.

The Turning Point

With their season on the brink, the Cowboys held a players only meeting. In this meeting, the players came together and committed to each other to do what was best for the team, putting aside their egos. They also decided that they needed a single leader on the field. They elected middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan to speak to Landry about choosing a single quarterback. Landry agreed, and chose Roger Staubach as the starting quarterback.

The Cowboys played at the St. Louis Cardinals in Week 8. This was a tough divisional game that the Cowboys always had trouble with. The game came down to a last minute field goal attempt by the Cowboys. The Cowboys rookie kicker was Tony Fritsch, a soccer player from Austria who did not speak any English. As the Cowboys lined up to attempt the field goal to win the game, the Cardinals players were yelling at Fritsch that he was going to miss and other insults. The Cowboy players started laughing at them and said, “don't waste your breath, he doesn't understand what you are saying”. Fritsch made the field goal, helping the Cowboys to a 16-13 win.

Source

Mid Season Turmoil

The Cowboys returned home in Week 9 to face the New England Patriots. But home was a new home. The Cowboys had played at the Cotton Bowl for all of their previous 11 years in existence. Texas Stadium construction was completed late, so the Cowboys decided to move into the new stadium in mid season once construction was complete. This was unpopular with both the players and fans. The Cowboys had a home field advantage at the Cotton Bowl that they would never regain at Texas Stadium. The Cotton Bowl was an outdoor stadium that had a raucous atmosphere. Texas Stadium was designed to be the Taj Mahal of NFL stadiums and it had a much more sophisticated and reserved atmosphere.

Adding to the turmoil of changing stadiums in mid season, Ralph Neely, the Cowboys All-Pro Left Tackle, broke his leg while riding his motor cycle off road. Neely would miss the remainder of the season.

Steam Rolling to the Post Season

Despite some mid season turmoil, the Cowboys were embarking on the Franchise’s longest winning streak. After starting 4-3, the Cowboys would win the next 10 games in a row. After the close win at St. Louis in Week 8, the Cowboys would win the final six games of the regular season by an average of 20 points per game. The last 3 games of the season were Cowboy blowouts.

Week 9 Dallas 20 Philadelphia 7

Week 10 Dallas 13 Washington 0

Week 11 Dallas 28 LA Rams 21

Week 12 Dallas 52 NY Jets 10

Week 13 Dallas 42 NY Giants 14

Week 14 Dallas 31 St. Louis 12

The Playoffs

The Cowboys began their playoff run in Minnesota. The Cowboys led this game 20-3 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Cowboys gave up a safety when Staubach was sacked for the only time in the game. Minnesota scored a touchdown in the last minute of the game to close the gap to 20-12. This would be the only touchdown the Cowboys would give up in the entire post season.

The Cowboys came home to face San Francisco in the NFC Championship game. This was a rematch of the previous year's NFC Championship game that the Cowboys won in San Francisco 14-13. This game was a defensive struggle that the Cowboys won 14-3.

Source

Super Bowl VI

Head Coach Tom Landry wanted his team fully prepared for this game. He was concerned because Don Shula's Dolphins were a great team. Shula's team would go undefeated the next season and win the next two Super Bowls. Landry was particularly concerned about the Dolphin's young linebacker Nick Buoniconti because of his speed and aggressive style of play.

Landry decided to use Buoniconti's strengths against him. He resigned many of the Cowboy's running plays to be misdirection plays. The Cowboys lineman would pull in one direction and the running back would run to the other side of the field. This misdirection confused the Dolphins defense because they had never seen anything like it before. At the time, all teams used either a straight forward power running game or they used a finesse style of outside running game where the offensive linemen would pull in the direction of the play. Landry also instructed his running backs to change direction or use cutbacks whenever they saw Buoniconti closing in. Landry knew that the Dolphins linebacker would over run the play.

Landry's meticulous attention to detail paid off. The Cowboys rushed for 252 yards using cutbacks and misdirection plays. The running game ate up a lot of time, giving the Dolphins fewer possessions than they expected. The Cowboys ball control style of play shortened the game, forcing the Dolphins into throwing the ball more than they wanted, which resulted in Bob Griese throwing 3 interceptions. Bob Lilly also sacked Griese for a Super Bowl record 29 yard loss.

The final score of the game was Dallas 24 Miami 3. The 1971 Cowboys are the only team to hold a team without a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Dolphin's coach Don Shula said of the Cowboys that day, “that was as close to a perfect game as you will ever see.” The Cowboy fans at the game counted down the last seconds of the game like a New Years eve countdown. After the game clock ran down to zero, the Cowboys were no longer next year's champions.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I think one of the iconic moments of that team was when reporters interviewed Duane Thomas after he won MVP and asked if he was that good. Being the malcontent he was at the time his answer was perfect, "Evidently."

    • profile image

      mts1098 

      6 years ago

      I remember the card in your hub as I used to flip cards with my friends...Better than that though I have been a Cowboys fan since the early 70's and remember watching the 78 win over the "Orange Crush" Bronco team...Of course the wins in the 90's were also fun to watch...cheers

    • profile image

      Gusser 

      6 years ago

      In those days I was a Miami fan-The Boys showed them a new way to play in that game. The next 2 seasons Miama used Kiick & Morris on misdirection plays & Csonka straight ahead to win 2 Super Bowls. Thanks for the memories.

    • Ms._Info profile image

      Ms._Info 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for the history lesson on the Dallas Cowboys. I'm not very big on football, but learning about this team was interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)