Throwback Thursday: Divisional Round 1973, Cowboys Beat Rams
Saturday’s Cowboys-Rams matchup will be the fifth time in history these two proud franchises have met in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we go back in the time machine to December 23, 1973 for the inaugural Cowboys-Rams postseason clash.
Four future members of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor made huge plays during the Cowboys’ 27-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round game played in front of 64,291 fans at the sparkling, new Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys and Rams had played earlier that year in Week 5 of the 1973 regular season, but that game was in Los Angeles and the Rams prevailed by a score of 37-31.
The rematch in the postseason was much lower-scoring, mainly because of a stingy Cowboys’ defense that recorded takeaways on the Rams’ first two offensive plays from scrimmage.
Ring of Honor member Lee Roy Jordan intercepted a pass from Rams QB John Hadl on the first play from scrimmage. Jordan’s takeaway set up Calvin Hill’s 3-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead.
On the Rams’ second offensive play from scrimmage, Ring of Honor member Mel Renfro recovered a fumble by Rams running back Lawrence McCutcheon. Renfro’s takeaway set up a touchdown connection by Ring of Honor members Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson. Staubach’s 4-yard scoring strike to Pearson extended the Cowboys’ lead to 14-0.
Pearson caught only two passes that day, but both of them went for touchdowns!
Toni Fritsch added a field goal early in the 2nd quarter to put the Cowboys up 17-0. But the Rams clawed their way back into contention with two field goals by kicker David Ray. The halftime score was 17-6.
The Rams rallied in the 4th quarter. Ray added another field goal. And then Fred Dryer recovered a Calvin Hill fumble. Two plays later, Tony Baker scored a 5-yard touchdown run. The Rams’ 10-point rally in the 4th quarter cut the Cowboys’ lead to 17-16.
But on the Cowboys’ next possession, facing 3rd and 14, Staubach once again connected with Pearson, this time on an 83-yard touchdown. Tony Fritsch would add one more field goal later in the 4th quarter to put the game away, 27-16.
With the victory, the Cowboys advanced to the NFC Championship Game the following week, but the Vikings came into Texas Stadium and dashed Dallas’ Super Bowl dreams, 27-10.
The Cowboys ended the 1973 season with a 10-4 regular season record and NFC East championship, but a 1-1 record in the playoffs. Six Cowboys made the Pro Bowl that season including RB Calvin Hill, LB Lee Roy Jordan, DT Bob Lilly, G John Niland, CB Mel Renfro, and OT Rayfield Wright. Hill, Jordan, Renfro and Wright were also named to the 1973 All-Pro Team.
Here’s the Cowboys’ starting lineup from that Divisional Round game. Just a glance at the names of the Cowboys’ legends from that team will make a long-time fan’s heart beat with pride!
QB: Roger Staubach
RB/FB: Calvin Hill/Walt Garrison
WRs: Bob Hayes, Drew Pearson
TE: Billy Joe Dupree
OL: Ralph Neely, John Niland, John Fitzgerald, Blaine Nye, Rayfield Wright
DL: Larry Cole, Jethro Pugh, Pat Toomay, Dave Edwards
LBs: Dave Edwards, Lee Roy Jordan, D.D. Lewis
CBs: Charlie Waters, Mel Renfro
S: Cornell Green, Cliff Harris
That’s four Pro Football Hall of Fame players (Staubach, Hayes, Wright, Renfro), and seven Ring of Honor members (Staubach, Hayes, Pearson, Wright, Jordan, Renfro, and Harris) in the starting lineup!