It was 46 Years Ago Today -- I Was There

NFL Nov 26, 2020


Here's a fond Thanksgiving Day memory.

My parents divorced when I was very young. However, one odd perk of having "two families" was celebrating holidays with different sets of relatives. Many Thanksgivings and Christmases meant early afternoon with Mom's family, and the evening with Dad's family.

One other perk was that both families had Dallas Cowboys season tickets. So, I got to attend most of the games during the 1970's, which were the glory years for NFL football, if you were there and remember.

Yet, 1974 was the only year the Cowboys missed the playoffs in a 20-year span that went from 1966-1985. Every other year, they were a contender, but '74 was an old Dallas team that went a disappointing 8-6 on the season. On Thanksgiving Day, Dallas was hanging on for a Wild Card spot, playing the first-place rival Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium. I went to the game with my Dad that year. We had tickets about midway up on the first deck, at the 20-yard line behind the Cowboys bench. Great seats.

The Cowboys played a horrible game for three quarters. The fans were booing. Staubach played one of his worst games. Washington was simply the better team. This was before the days when taunting and targeting could result in fines. Players openly trolled each other, in the media and on the field. A Redskin defensive lineman (from U.Texas) openly bragged that he would KNOCK STAUBACH OUT OF THE GAME.

And early in the fourth quarter, that's precisely what happened. Staubach, wobbly-kneed, was carried off the field from a concussion (one of five he suffered while a player -- he was a tough SOB). So, Dallas was behind 16-3 and turned to a quarterback from some backwater known as Abilene Christian College, who had never taken an NFL snap before.

As they say -- the rest is history.

When Clint Longley hit Drew Pearson with a 50-yard bomb in the closing seconds, my Dad and I were standing at the top of the steps about to head to the tunnel to go out to the parking lot. I can still hear the roar of the crowd ringing in my ears.

That was 46 years ago tonight.

Here's the highlight reel of that game, courtesy of ESPN:

Clint Longley Replaces Roger Staubach & Shocks the Redskins! (1974) | NFL on Thanksgiving
Clint Longley replaces injured QB Roger Staubach with the Cowboys down in the 3rd quarter. Longley comes in and starts airing it out to lead Dallas on a shoc...

-- by Nolan Dalla