It was Thanksgiving Day in 1980 when Dallas met up with the Seattle Seahawks, who back then played in the AFC West. Seattle took the giving part of Thanksgiving way too far in this game in the form of points they gave up to Dallas.
The Cowboys came into the game with a 9-3 record, but still looking up to division leader Philadelphia. The Cowboys offense got off to a quick start with Danny White connecting with Tony Hill on an 18 yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
On Seattle’s second possession they tried to fool the Dallas defense from their own 14 yard line. Quarterback Jim Zorn (Yes, the same Zorn who now coaches the Redskins) handed off to running back Lawrence McCutcheon who then lateraled the ball back to Zorn who was now standing in his own end zone. Feeling the pressure from Dallas linebacker D.D. Lewis, Zorn quickly threw the ball. The pass landed near one of the Seattle offensive lineman and Zorn was penalized for intentional grounding which resulted in a safety since he was in the end zone when he passed the ball. Dallas took a 9-0 lead in the first quarter.
A side note about Jim Zorn that most people may not know. Zorn was a Dallas Cowboy before being released by the team back in 1975.
Things would only get worse for Seattle during the second quarter as Dallas scored 21 points. Randy White sacked Jim Zorn on back to back plays, forcing Seattle to punt from their own five yard line. Danny White drove the offense down the field and threw his second touchdown pass of the first half, this time to tight end Billy Joe DuPree. Dallas increased their lead to 16-0.
On the kickoff the Seattle returner was stripped of the ball by rookie linebacker Anthony Dickerson. Doug Cosbie recovered for the Cowboys at the Seattle 19 yard line. A couple of plays later Ron Springs scored from three yards out and a 23-0 lead.
The turnover trend continued for the Seahawks in the second quarter, Zorn was sacked by Harvey Martin and fumbled. Larry Cole fell on the loose ball at the Seattle 32 yard line. Dallas turned to their running game with Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse to move inside the five yard line. From there Newhouse scored from the three yard line with under two minutes left in the first half.
In the first half alone Jim Zorn was sacked four times by the Dallas defense, intercepted once and was responsible for one of the two Seattle fumbles.
Opening the second half Jim Zorn found himself standing on the sidelines watching backup quarterback Sam Adkins take his share of the Seattle beating on this Thanksgiving Day. The Seahawks actually made it to the Dallas one yard line in the third quarter thanks to a 44 yard pass interference penalty on Dallas cornerback Benny Barnes. Seattle failed on first and second down runs. Adkins attempted a pass that fell incomplete on third down and on fourth down Adkins tried to sneak into the end zone, but was stopped by the Dallas defense. There would be no scoring for either team in the third quarter.
As the third quarter ended Dallas linebacker Mike Hegman intercepted his second pass of the game and gave the Dallas offense the ball at the Seattle 26 yard line. Tony Dorsett got involved in the scoring at this point with a one yard run which increased the Dallas lead to 37-0.
On the kickoff Lawrence McCutcheon was hit hard by Hegman causing a fumble which Dallas recovered at the Seattle 11 yard line. From there Dorsett recorded his second one yard touchdown run of the game and a 44-0 lead.
Once again on the kickoff Anthony Dickerson forced another Seattle fumble. Not wanting to be left out, it was Dallas kicker Rafael Septien who recovered the fumble and actually returned it 11 yards to the Seattle 14 yard line.
Dallas finished off their scoring when backup quarterback Glenn Carano threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree for his second score of the day. Dallas now had the lead on Seattle 51-0.
With only two and half minutes left in the game the Seahawks actually put together a scoring drive against mostly Dallas backups and prevented the shutout on the day. The score actually came from a short Jim Zorn pass as he came off the bench. This Thanksgiving Day game ended with the Cowboys completely destroyed the Seahawks 51-7.
On the day the Dallas defense registered six sacks, recovered four fumbles and intercepted three passes.
“We went into the game hoping our front four could dominate,” Cole said. “And I think we did a pretty good job.”
“I kinda feel for them,” said Dorsett, who managed 107 yards on his 24 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. “But it was a good game for us. We got some things going today that we’ve needed. The running game, for instance, has picked up considerably in the last few weeks and that’s a good sign.”
“I felt for Seattle,” said head coach Tom Landry afterward. “They’ve had injuries, the extra travel, the short week and their losing streak. On the other hand, we had a good first half (building a 30-0 advantage), both on offense and defense. And I thought our specialty teams were exceptional.”
“As I’ve said before, it’s nice to be in a playoff position, but what we really want to do now is continue to play well,” he declared. “If we can play well the next three weeks against the kind of competition we’re going to face (Oakland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia), we’ll be ready for a playoff shot.”
“If you score 51 points, even in a dummy scrimmage,” he said, “You’ve got to have something going for you.”
You can see the box score from the game here…