Flashback: Dallas vs Raiders – 1983

It took me a couple of weeks before making a decision on this match-up between the Cowboys and the Raiders. You would think there would be a lot of history between these two teams on the field, but the fact is that they have only played nine times. The Cowboys have won six of those nine games, but the Raiders have won the last three. Every single time I thought about this game I would keep going back to 1983. It was Sunday Night Football at Texas Stadium and the Cowboys were off to one of their best starts of any season as they entered the game against the Raiders with a 7-0 record.

As the first quarter got under way the Dallas defense got their first of the Raiders  six turnovers on the night as quarterback Marc Wilson fumbled the snap from center and Ed (Too Tall) Jones recovered at the Raiders 33 yard line.

It would not be your normal night as coach Tom Landry went deep into his bag of tricks. With the Cowboys at the Raiders 15 yard line Danny White went into the shotgun. On the snap running back Ron Springs who was lined up in the slot got the hand-off from White as he ran from right to left like it was a sweep play. While this was happening White kind of wandered off to the right sideline. Springs then stopped and passed the ball to White who was all alone for the 15 yard touchdown pass. Dallas took the lead 7-0 with just over 2:00 gone in the first quarter.

The Raiders answered the Cowboys touchdown with ten of their own points in the first quarter. Their points came thanks to Cowboys rookie punter John Warren who could only manage a 30 yard punt and a 34 yard punt on back to back Cowboys possessions. On the 34 yard punt Warren twisted his knee and the punting went back to Danny White for the night.

Danny White’s first punt attempt of the night was fumbled by the Raiders and Cowboys special teams specialist Rod Hill recovered at the Raiders 38 yard line. Dallas took advantage again of the turnover and from the two yard line Ron Springs scored and gave Dallas the lead back, 14-10 early in the second quarter.

On the Raiders next possession Marcus Allen fumbled and the Cowboys once again recovered at the Raiders 20 yard line. Dallas converted that turnover into a Rafael Septien field goal for a 17-10 lead.

The Raiders got back into the game with the running of Frank Hawkins who rushed for 118 yard in the game. He ran untouched into the end zone from 23 yards out and score was tied 17-17.

Even without the benefit of a Raiders turnover the Cowboys drove on the Raiders number ranked defense. Dallas put together a 76 yard drive in 8 plays and then capped the drive with a Danny White to Butch Johnson touchdown. Dallas took the lead again 24-17. Those looking for Butch Johnson’s famous California Quake dance after the touchdown were disappointed. Johnson was unable to do his dance because before the season Landry said there would no end zone dancing during the season.

The wild second quarter continued as the Raiders tied the game again on another Frank Hawkins touchdown pass from Marc Wilson. As the first half was coming to an end Danny White threw an interception on the Raiders 22 yard line. This time it would be the Raiders who would take advantage of the turnover. Marc Wilson drove the Raiders into Dallas territory. With nine seconds left the Raiders lined up for the go ahead field goal. Marc Wilson was also the holder on field goals and when he took the snap he stood up to attempt the fake. As he threw the ball he was hit by Dallas cornerback Dennis Thurman. The ball landed well in front of the intended receiver, but Dallas linebacker Anthony Dickerson was called for pass interference on the receiver even though he had no chance to catch the ball.

The pass interference penalty put the ball at the Dallas one yard line with only three seconds left in the first half. Instead of going for the field goal, Raiders coach Tom Flores sent his offense onto the field. Marc Wilson found tight end Todd Christensen over the middle for the easy score. The Raiders ended the wild first half of football with the lead, 31-24.

I guess both teams must have been tired from all the first half excitement because only a field goal was scored in the third quarter. That was from the Raiders who recovered a Danny White fumble on his own 20 yard line. They converted that into a Chris Bahr field goal and entered the fourth quarter with a ten point lead on the Cowboys, 34-24.

Dallas got the scoring going early in the fourth quarter with Danny White throwing his second touchdown pass of the game. White connected with receiver Doug Donley from 17 yards and cut the Raiders lead to 34-31.

The Dallas defense went back to work on the Raiders. With a little over 13:00 to play Anthony Dickerson forced a Marc Wilson fumble. Linebacker Mike Hegman scooped up the ball and ran it in for the go ahead touchdown from nine yards out. Once again the Cowboys had the lead at 38-34.

The Raiders were able to put another field goal on the board to tighten the Cowboys lead to 38-37. From that point things seemed to be good for the Cowboys.

With 7:00 remaining and the Raiders at the Cowboys 35 yard line, Dennis Thurman forced a fumble by Raiders receiver Dokie Williams. Dallas linebacker Dexter Clinkscale recovered.

The Cowboys moved the ball into Raiders territory with just over 3:00 to play in the game. On a 3rd and 15 Danny White looked deep for Tony Hill, but was intercepted by the Raiders at the 13 yard line and it was returned up to the 25 yard line.

Marc Wilson started to drive the Raiders. With some great passes to receiver Dokie Williams the Raiders got to the Cowboys nine yard line with only 20 seconds left in the game. Chris Bahr lined up for a 26 yard field attempt. As Bahr kicked the ball and it sailed over his offensive line, up jumped Dallas cornerback Michael Downs from behind his defensive line. Downs came within maybe an inch or two from blocking the kick, but the ball continued to sail up and through for the winning points. The Raiders had pulled off the upset in a wild night at Texas Stadium, 40-38.

The loss for the Cowboys was their first of the 1983 season. They would go 5-3 the rest of the season and finish with a 12-4 record. Their 1983 season would end at home in the playoffs to the LA Rams, 24-17.

You can view the box score here..


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