1986 Dallas Cowboys Season
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1986 Dallas Cowboys Season
1986 Dallas Cowboys season
OwnerBum Bright
Head coachTom Landry
General managerTex Schramm
Home fieldTexas Stadium
Division place3rd NFC East
Playoff finishDid not qualify
Pro BowlersNone

The 1986 Dallas Cowboys season was the franchise's 27th season in the National Football League. The team finished the regular season at 7-9 and finishing with a losing record for the first time since 1964.


The Cowboys, re-invigorated by the off-season acquisitions of running back Herschel Walker and passing coordinator Paul Hackett, got off to a strong 6-2 start, including a season opening win on Monday night over the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, which saw Walker score the winning touchdown late in the game, and a 30-6 blowout win over the Washington Redskins, which ended the Redskins 5-0 start. Quarterbacks Danny White and Steve Pelluer played well early in the season under Hackett's tutelage, who was brought over from the San Francisco 49ers to breathe new life into the passing game. However, White broke his wrist on a sack by Carl Banks during a crucial loss to the New York Giants, and was ruled out for the season. Pelluer took over as the starting quarterback, and struggled mightily, throwing 17 interceptions over the course of the season, as well as seeing constant pressure from opposing pass rushers, including being sacked a team record twelve times in a game against San Diego. The Cowboys lost seven out of their final eight games, and suffered a five-game losing streak to close out the season, including embarrassing losses to the Redskins (41-14) and the Seahawks in the annual Thanksgiving Day game (31-14). It was the Cowboys' first loss on Thanksgiving since 1979. During the third quarter of a late-season loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Tom Landry was forced to leave the field due to a threat against his life. Landry returned to the field later in the game wearing a bulletproof vest.

The Cowboys undoing certainly wasn't because of an inability to move the football, as the team ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense. Running back Herschel Walker rushed for 737 yards, caught 76 passes for 837 yards, and scored 14 touchdowns. Late in the season against the Eagles, Walker had a combined 292 yards rushing and receiving, breaking the team single game record. Running back Tony Dorsett added 748 yards rushing, and even though he was still the team's starting running back, he was clearly unhappy with his reduced role. This was the first non-strike season he hadn't rushed for 1,000 yards. The passing game flourished under Danny White early in the year, but following White's injury, turnovers and an inability to protect the quarterback neutralized the passing attack. Wide receiver Tony Hill and tight end Doug Cosbie both began to show their age, and Mike Renfro was limited because of injury. Rookie wide receiver Mike Sherrard provided a deep threat, gaining 744 yards on just 41 receptions. Defensively, the team struggled to stop the run, finishing 23rd against the run, and the secondary, an opportunistic bunch in past seasons, only intercepted 17 passes during the season. The pass rush was still strong, despite defensive tackle Randy White finally beginning to slow down due to age and injury, as fourth year defensive end Jim Jeffcoat stepped up with 14 sacks. Overall, it was mistakes that would plague the team throughout the 1986 season. The offensive line gave up 60 sacks, the offense turned the ball over 41 times, and the team committed 112 penalties.

No Cowboys were selected for the Pro Bowl in 1986.


NFL Draft

1986 Dallas Cowboys draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 18 Mike Sherrard  WR UCLA
2 33 Darryl Clack  OG Arizona State
3 74 Mark Walen  DT UCLA
4 100 Max Zendejas  PK Arizona
6 140 Thornton Chandler  TE Alabama
6 150 Stan Gelbaugh  QB Maryland
6 158 Lloyd Yancey  OG Temple
7 185 Johnny Holloway  WR Kansas
8 212 Topper Clemons  RB Wake Forest
9 242 John Ionata  OG Florida State
10 269 Bryan Chester  OG Texas
11 296 Garth Jax  LB Florida State
12 307 Chris Duliban  LB Texas
12 322 Tony Flack  DB Georgia
      Made roster    +   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance Recap
1 September 8 New York Giants W 31-28 1-0 Texas Stadium 59,804 Recap
2 September 14 at Detroit Lions W 31-7 2-0 Pontiac Silverdome 73,812 Recap
3 September 21 Atlanta Falcons L 35-37 2-1 Texas Stadium 62,880 Recap
4 September 29 at St. Louis Cardinals W 31-7 3-1 Busch Stadium 49,077 Recap
5 October 5 at Denver Broncos L 14-29 3-2 Mile High Stadium 76,082 Recap
6 October 12 Washington Redskins W 30-6 4-2 Texas Stadium 63,264 Recap
7 October 19 at Philadelphia Eagles W 17-14 5-2 Veterans Stadium 68,572 Recap
8 October 26 St. Louis Cardinals W 37-6 6-2 Texas Stadium 60,756 Recap
9 November 2 at New York Giants L 14-17 6-3 Giants Stadium 74,871 Recap
10 November 9 Los Angeles Raiders L 13-17 6-4 Texas Stadium 61,706 Recap
11 November 16 at San Diego Chargers W 24-21 7-4 Jack Murphy Stadium 55,622 Recap
12 November 23 at Washington Redskins L 14-41 7-5 RFK Stadium 55,642 Recap
13 November 27 Seattle Seahawks L 14-31 7-6 Texas Stadium 58,020 Recap
14 December 7 at Los Angeles Rams L 10-29 7-7 Anaheim Stadium 64,949 Recap
15 December 14 Philadelphia Eagles L 21-23 7-8 Texas Stadium 46,117 Recap
16 December 21 Chicago Bears L 10-24 7-9 Texas Stadium 57,256 Recap

Division opponents are in bold text


NFC East
New York Giants(1) 14 2 0 .875 7-1 11-1 371 236 W9
Washington Redskins(4) 12 4 0 .750 5-3 9-3 368 296 W1
Dallas Cowboys 7 9 0 .438 5-3 6-6 346 337 L5
Philadelphia Eagles 5 10 1 .344 1-6-1 3-8-1 256 312 L1
St. Louis Cardinals 4 11 1 .281 1-6-1 3-10-1 218 351 W1

Game summaries

Week 1: vs. New York Giants

Week 9: at New York Giants

Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Raiders

1 234Total
• Raiders 0 377 17
Cowboys 3 730 13


Week 13: vs. Seattle Seahawks


For the first time in team history, the Cowboys had no players chosen to play in the Pro Bowl. They also had no players mentioned on the Associated Press' All-NFL team.


  • The Football Encyclopedia ISBN 0-312-11435-4
  • Total Football ISBN 0-06-270170-3
  • Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes ISBN 0-446-51950-2


  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Sep-08.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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