1971 Dallas Cowboys Season
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1971 Dallas Cowboys Season
1971 Dallas Cowboys season
OwnerClint Murchison, Jr.
Head coachTom Landry
General managerTex Schramm
Home fieldCotton Bowl
Texas Stadium
Division place1st NFC East
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (at Vikings) 20-12
Won NFC Championship (vs. 49ers) 14-3
Won Super Bowl VI (vs. Dolphins) 24-3

The 1971 Dallas Cowboys season was the franchise's 12th season in the National Football League, the first at the new Texas Stadium in suburban Irving, Texas and the 12th season under head coach Tom Landry. The Cowboys led the NFL with 406 points scored. Their defense allowed 222 points.

For the sixth consecutive season, the Cowboys had a first-place finish. They won their second-consecutive NFC championship, then defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI to capture their first Super Bowl championship. They were the first team from the NFC to win a Super Bowl since the 1970 merger of the National Football League and the American Football League, and subsequently, the first team from the NFC East division to win the title.

NFL Draft

The 1971 NFL Draft was one of the worst in the history of the franchise, although the Cowboys recovered draft choices by trading Tody Smith and Ike Thomas to other teams. Third-round selection Bill Gregory played seven seasons with the Cowboys, winning two Super Bowl rings. Eighth-round selection Ron Jessie was cut after the Cowboys acquired San Diego Chargers All-Pro Lance Alworth, but went on to enjoy a long and successful NFL career with the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams.

1971 Dallas Cowboys draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 25 Tody Smith  DE USC
2 51 Ike Thomas  DB Bishop
3 69 Sam Scarber  RB New Mexico
3 77 Bill Gregory  DT Wisconsin
4 80 Joe Carter  TE Grambling State
4 103 Adam Mitchell  OT Ole Miss
5 129 Ron Kadziel  LB Stanford
6 155 Steve Maier  WR Northern Arizona
7 181 Bill Griffin  OT Catawba
8 206 Ron Jessie *  WR Kansas
9 233 Honor Jackson  DB Pacific
10 259 Rodney Wallace  OT New Mexico
11 285 Ernest Bonwell  DT Lane
12 311 Steve Goepel  QB Colgate
13 337 James Ford  RB Texas Southern
14 363 Tyrone Couey  DB Utah State
15 389 Bob Young  TE Delaware
16 415 John Brennan  OT Boston College
17 440 John Bomer  C Memphis
      Made roster    +   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


Season recap

The Cowboys opened the new Texas Stadium with a 44-21 win over the New England Patriots on Oct. 24. Duane Thomas scored the first touchdown, a 56-yard run two minutes and 16 seconds after the start of the game. Attendance was 65,708 persons.

The team entered the season still having the reputation of "not being able to win the big games" and "next year's champion". The Super Bowl V loss added more fuel to that widely held view. As in the previous season, Dallas had a quarterback controversy as Roger Staubach and Craig Morton alternated as starting quarterback (in a loss to the Bears in game 7, Morton and Staubach alternated plays).[2] The Cowboys were 4-3 at the season midpoint. But after head coach Tom Landry settled on Staubach, the Cowboys won their last seven regular season games to finish with an 11-3 record.

Cowboys' running back Duane Thomas rushing the ball for a touchdown in Super Bowl VI.

Staubach finished the regular season as the NFL's top rated passer (101.8) by throwing for 1,882 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. He was also a terrific rusher, gaining 343 yards and 2 touchdowns on 41 carries. Said Cold Hard Football Facts of Staubach's 1971 season, "Staubach finally out-jockeyed Craig Morton for the starting gig with the Cowboys in 1971 and instantly produced one of the greatest passing seasons in history. The numbers are not big and gaudy, but they were ruthlessly efficient -- the 104.8 passer rating truly amazing in a season in which the average rating was 62.2. His 8.9 [yards-per-attempt] in the regular season is phenomenal in any era of the NFL, as was his 18 [touchdowns] against a meager 4 [interceptions] (including postseason). The Cowboys did not lose a single one of Staubach's 13 starts in 1971 and -- most impressively -- he lifted the proverbial "team that couldn't win the big game" to its long-awaited first NFL championship.[...]"[3]

Dallas also had an outstanding trio of running backs, Walt Garrison, Duane Thomas, and Calvin Hill, who rushed for a combined total of 1,690 yards and 14 touchdowns during the season. Garrison led the team in receptions during the season. (Thomas, upset that the Cowboys would not renegotiate his contract after his excellent rookie year, had stopped talking to the press and to almost everyone on the team). Wide Receivers Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth also provided a deep threat, catching a combined total of 69 passes for 1,327 yards and 10 touchdowns. The offensive line, anchored by all-pro tackle Rayfield Wright, Pro Bowlers John Niland and Ralph Neely, and #64 Tony Liscio who was coaxed out of retirement by Tom Landry after Ralph Neely got injured off the field, was also a primary reason for their success on offense. (Neely had broken his leg in November in a dirt-bike accident, and was replaced first by Gregg and then by Tony Liscio, who came out of retirement.)

The Dallas defense (nicknamed the "Doomsday Defense") had given up only one touchdown in the last 25 quarters prior to the Super Bowl. Their defensive line was anchored by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Bob Lilly, who excelled at pressuring quarterbacks and breaking up running plays. Dallas also had an outstanding trio of linebackers: Pro Bowler Chuck Howley, who recorded 5 interceptions and returned them for 122 yards; Dave Edwards 2 interceptions; and Lee Roy Jordan, who recorded 2 interceptions. The Cowboys secondary was led by 2 future hall of fame cornerbacks Herb Adderley (6 interceptions for 182 return yards) and Mel Renfro (4 interceptions for 11 yards). Safeties Cliff Harris and Pro Bowler Cornell Green also combined for 4 interceptions.After the 1971 Bob Lilly would play in the last of his last pro bowl despite being selected after the 1972 and 1973 seasons.Lilly would also score his final career touchdown in a 42-7 smashing of The Philadelphia Eagles.Lilly would retire with the NFL record of scoring the most tds by a defensive lineman with 4.

  • September 26, 1971 - Herb Adderley became the first Cowboy to have three interceptions in one game.
  • The Cowboys earned their first win on Monday Night Football by defeating the New York Giants 20-13 which also the last game The Cowboys played in The Cotton Bowl.


Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance Recap
1 September 19 at Buffalo Bills W 49-37 1-0 War Memorial Stadium 46,206 Recap
2 September 26 at Philadelphia Eagles W 42-7 2-0 Veterans Stadium 65,358 Recap
3 October 3 Washington Redskins L 16-20 2-1 Cotton Bowl 61,554 Recap
4 October 11 New York Giants W 20-13 3-1 Cotton Bowl 68,378 Recap
5 October 17 at New Orleans Saints L 14-24 3-2 Tulane Stadium 83,088 Recap
6 October 24 New England Patriots W 44-21 4-2 Texas Stadium 65,708 Recap
7 October 31 at Chicago Bears L 19-23 4-3 Soldier Field 55,049 Recap
8 November 7 at St. Louis Cardinals W 16-13 5-3 Busch Memorial Stadium 50,486 Recap
9 November 14 Philadelphia Eagles W 20-7 6-3 Texas Stadium 60,178 Recap
10 November 21 at Washington Redskins W 13-0 7-3 RFK Stadium 53,041 Recap
11 November 25 Los Angeles Rams W 28-21 8-3 Texas Stadium 66,595 Recap
12 December 4 New York Jets W 52-10 9-3 Texas Stadium 66,689 Recap
13 December 12 at New York Giants W 42-14 10-3 Yankee Stadium 62,815 Recap
14 December 18 St. Louis Cardinals W 31-12 11-3 Texas Stadium 66,672 Recap

Division opponents are in bold text


NFC East
Dallas Cowboys 11 3 0 .786 7-1 8-3 406 222 W7
Washington Redskins 9 4 1 .692 6-1-1 8-2-1 276 190 L1
Philadelphia Eagles 6 7 1 .462 4-3-1 5-5-1 221 302 W3
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .308 1-7 2-8-1 231 279 L2
New York Giants 4 10 0 .286 1-7 3-8 228 362 L5

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Game summaries

Week 1

Week 2

1 234Total
• Cowboys 0 21714 42
Eagles 0 007 7


Week 3

Week 4

1 234Total
Giants 3 307 13
Cowboys 3 1070 20


Last game at the Cotton Bowl

Week 6

1 234Total
Patriots 7 0014 21
Cowboys 10 24010 44


Dallas' first game at Texas Stadium.

Week 7

Week 8

1 234Total
• Cowboys 3 0310 16
Cardinals 0 1003 13


Week 9

1 234Total
Eagles 0 007 7
• Cowboys 3 773 20



Round Date Opponent Result Game Site Attendance Recap
Divisional December 25 at Minnesota Vikings W 20-12 Metropolitan Stadium 47,307 Recap
NFC Championship January 2 San Francisco 49ers W 14-3 Texas Stadium 63,409 Recap
Super Bowl VI January 16 vs Miami Dolphins W 24-3 Tulane Stadium 81,023 Recap

NFC Divisional Playoff

NFC Championship Game

Super Bowl VI


Awards and records

  • Led NFC, Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed, 1,144 yards
  • Led NFL, 401 Points Scored
  • Led NFL, 5,035 Total Yards Gained
  • Herb Adderley, Three Interceptions in One Game, Club Record
  • Roger Staubach, MVP, Super Bowl VI
  • Roger Staubach, NFL Passing Leader
  • Roger Staubach, Led NFL, 2,786 pass yards
  • Roger Staubach, Bert Bell Award[9]
  • Roger Staubach, NFC Pro Bowl
  • Roger Staubach, All-Pro Quarterback
  • Duane Thomas, NFL Touchdown Leader (13 - 11 Rushing, 2 Receiving)


  1. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2015-Jul-31.
  2. ^ Roger Staubach, "Super Bowl VI", Super Bowl: The Game of Their Lives, Danny Peary, editor. Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-02-860841-0
  3. ^ "Cold Hard Football Facts: The Dandy Dozen: 12 best passing seasons in history". Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Jun-30.
  5. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  6. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  7. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 30-Jun-2014.
  8. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Jul-01.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-19. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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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