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1971 Dallas Cowboys season

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Title: 1971 Dallas Cowboys season  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl VI, Tom Landry, 1967 NFL Championship Game, Forrest Gregg, NFL on CBS, National Football League on television, NFC Championship Game, NFC East, List of Super Bowl champions
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

1971 Dallas Cowboys season

1971 Dallas Cowboys season
Head coach Tom Landry
General manager Tex Schramm
Home field Cotton Bowl
Texas Stadium
Record 11–3
Division place 1st NFC East
Playoff finish Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 20–12
Won Conference Championship (49ers) 14–3
Won Super Bowl VI (Dolphins) 24–3
Previous season      Next season
< 1970      1972 >

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

For the sixth consecutive season, the Cowboys had a first place finish. The Cowboys won their second-consecutive NFC championship, then defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI to capture their first Super Bowl championship. It was the team's first championship of any kind. They were the first team from the NFC East division to win the Super Bowl.


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.

NFL Draft

Pick # NFL Team Player Position College
25 Dallas Cowboys Tody Smith Defensive End USC

Season recap

The Cowboys opened the new Texas Stadium with a 44-22 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 Staubach and Craig Morton alternated as starting quarterback (in a loss to the Bears in game 7, Morton and Staubach alternated plays).[1] 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.

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.[...]"[2]

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 Result Record Opponent Points For Points Against First Downs Attendance
1 September 19 Win 1–0 at Buffalo Bills 49 37 19
2 September 26 Win 2–0 at Philadelphia Eagles 42 7 23
3 October 3 Loss 2–1 Washington Redskins 16 20 20
4 October 11 Win 3–1 New York Giants 20 13 21
5 October 17 Loss 3–2 at New Orleans Saints 14 24 20
6 October 24 Win 4–2 New England Patriots 44 21 20
7 October 31 Loss 4–3 at Chicago Bears 19 23 26
8 November 7 Win 5–3 at St. Louis Cardinals 16 13 20
9 November 14 Win 6–3 Philadelphia Eagles 20 7 21
10 November 21 Win 7–3 at Washington Redskins 13 0 16
11 November 25 Win 8–3 Los Angeles Rams 28 21 15
12 December 4 Win 9–3 New York Jets 52 10 26
13 December 12 Win 10–3 at New York Giants 42 14 23
14 December 18 Win 11–3 St. Louis Cardinals 31 12 18


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

Game summaries

Week 1

1 2 34Total
Cowboys 7 21 71449
Bills 14 10 6737

at War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

  • Date: September 19
  • Game time: 1:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: 55°F, wind 9 mph
  • Referee: Box Score

Week 4

1 234Total
Giants 3 307 13
Cowboys 3 1070 20


Week 6

1 234Total
Patriots 7 0014 21
Cowboys 10 24010 44


Dallas' first game at Texas Stadium.


NFC Divisional Playoff

Dallas Cowboys 20, Minnesota Vikings 12
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 3 3 14020
Vikings 0 3 0912

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

NFC Championship Game

Dallas Cowboys 14, San Francisco 49ers 3
1 2 34Total
49ers 0 0 303
Cowboys 0 7 0714

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

Super Bowl VI

Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 3 7 7724
Dolphins 0 3 003

at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana


Dallas Cowboys 1971 roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Currently vacant

Rookies in italics
45 Active, 0 Inactive

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[5]
  • Roger Staubach, NFC Pro Bowl
  • Roger Staubach, All-Pro Quarterback
  • Duane Thomas, NFL Touchdown Leader (13 - 11 Rushing, 2 Receiving)


External links

  • 1971 Dallas Cowboys season
  • 1971 Dallas Cowboys

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