5 Cowboys’ Fun Facts for NFL Kickoff Weekend
Going into the opening weekend of the NFL regular season, here are some interesting facts you might not have known:
The Cowboys and Broncos are tied for the best winning percentage on opening weekend in NFL history. Both teams are 37-19 in regular season openers, a winning percentage of 66.1%.
Only one other NFL team has a winning percentage above 60%: the Houston Texans (9-6 record, 60%). The Cowboys’ opponent this coming Sunday, the division rival NY Giants, have the 6th best winning percentage in regular season openers in NFL history at 57.5% (50-37). The Cowboys and Giants have met 9 times in regular season openers with the Cowboys holding an 8-1 advantage. The Giants, however, beat the Cowboys in last year’s opener in a nail-biter, 20-19. This weekend marks the fifth time in the past six years that these two teams have played each other in the opener. Why? Because it’s a ratings-grabber for NBC’s Sunday Night Football: the nation’s #1 TV market (New York) versus the team that perennially leads the league in ratings (Cowboys).
On Sunday night when running back Rod Smith and his younger brother, Jaylon (linebacker), play in the game for the Cowboys they become the 35th brother duo on the same NFL team since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Rod and Jaylon are also the third set of brothers to play together for the Cowboys in the regular season since Darren & Troy Hambrick in 2000 and Akin & Remi Ayodele in 2007.
Tight end Jason Witten will reach more career milestones in the regular season opener. Sunday night will be his 224th career game played, tying him with Ed “Too Tall” Jones for the most games played all-time by a Dallas Cowboy.
This is also Witten’s 15th NFL season which ties him with Ed Jones (1974-78, 1980-89), Bill Bates (1983-97), and Mark Tuinei (1983-97) for the most seasons played in team history. Witten also needs only 17 yards on Sunday night to pass Michael Irvin (11,904) to become the Cowboys’ all-time receiving yards leader. And Witten needs just 6 catches to surpass Hall of Fame receiver Tim Brown (1,094) for 6th place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list.
Julio Cortez via AP
Giants QB Eli Manning is the “iron man” of current NFL QBs. Sunday night will be his 200th consecutive regular season start, a streak which dates back to his first career start as a rookie on November 21, 2004. Eli’s streak is the longest of current NFL QBs and the third longest all-time behind only Brett Favre’s 297 (1992-2010) and Peyton Manning’s 208 (1998-January, 2011). Compared to Eli, the Cowboys have hosted a cavalcade of QBs. Since 2004, Eli’s rookie season, 12 different Cowboys QBs have started a regular season game including (in chronological order): Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee, Kyle Orton, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore, and Dak Prescott.
Do you know which former Dallas Cowboy holds the NFL record for most receiving yards in a regular season opener? If you said Drew Pearson or Michael Irvin or Dez Bryant, guess again. If you said “Bullet” Bob Hayes or Terrell Owens or Tony Hill…nice try, but keep guessing. The answer is FRANK CLARKE who totaled a record 241 receiving yards on 10 catches (including 3 touchdowns) versus the Redskins in the 1962 regular season opener. The game ended in a 35-35 tie, the only tie in a Cowboys’ season opener in franchise history.
Clarke, who was an original Cowboy from the 1960 expansion team, came to the team from the Cleveland Browns via the expansion draft. He played 8 seasons in Dallas from 1960-67.