Flashback: Dallas vs San Diego – 1980

Here we go with another Flashback post with a team Dallas does not have much history with. Dallas only owns a 6-2 record against the San Diego Chargers. After looking through the eight games nothing really stood out, so I decided to go old school. The Cowboys and the Chargers had a lot in common back in the early 1980’s just like they do today. A lot of talent, but just could not get over that hump to greatness.

Both teams were filled with star players back in 1980. The Chargers had an explosive offense with quarterback Dan Fouts, running back Chuck Muncie, wide receivers John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow. The Cowboys were also filled with stars like Danny and Randy White, Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson and Tony Hill, Harvey Martin, Ed Jones, Dennis Thurman.

The Chargers offense started off quick in the first quarter on their first possession. Dan Fouts worked the team down the field on a few completions to John Jefferson and they found themselves on the Dallas 27 yard line when the drive stalled. Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke kicked a 45 yard field goal to take the lead 3-0.

The Cowboys put together a drive of their own on their first possession, but kicker Rafael Septien missed his field goal attempt which would have tied the game.

The Dallas defense collected what would be their first of seven turnovers by the Chargers. Cornerback Steve Wilson jumped in front of a Fouts pass at the Dallas 30 yard line and returned it all the way to the Chargers 35 yard line. Danny White drove the Cowboys down to the 4 yard line where Ron Springs scored, putting the Cowboys ahead 7-3.

Early in the second quarter Septien missed yet another field goal attempt. From that point on the Chargers offense put it in high gear. The Chargers first touchdown of the game came when Fouts passed to Charlie Joiner. But after being hit by Steve Wilson the ball bounced off of Wilson and into the hands of John Jefferson who raced for the score from 58 yards out. This gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead.

On the Cowboys next series Danny white threw his only interception of the game, but it turned out to be a score for San Diego. The Dallas offense was backed up on their own 8 yard line and White attempted a pass to backup running back James Jones. White was intercepted by San Diego’s Woodrow Lowe who returned it 16 yards for the touchdown. This increased the Chargers lead to 17-7.

The Cowboys put together a 75 yard drive on their next possession and closed the lead to three points. White connected with Butch Johnson on a 17 yard touchdown pass as the second quarter was winding down.

San Diego was not done with their second quarter scoring as they scored their third touchdown of the quarter. Fouts drove his team 65 yards in only five plays and capped it with his second touchdown pass of the half. Kellen Winslow caught the nine yard touchdown pass and the Chargers went into halftime with a 24-14 lead on the Cowboys.

As the second quarter would be owned by the Chargers with 21 points. It was the Cowboys turn in the third quarter. White drove the Cowboys to the Chargers 10 yard line. But on first down White fumbled the snap and backup tight end Jay Saldi alertly picked it up and ran it down to the two yard line. From there Timmy Newsome scored and pulled the Cowboys back to within three points, 24-21.

The Dallas defense got the ball back for the offense and once again it was Danny White who led the team deep into Chargers territory. During the drive it was White who faked a punt from his own 39 yard line on a fourth and 11. White gained 12 yards to keep the drive going. Sitting at the Chargers one yard line it was Timmy Newsome once again scoring and putting the Cowboys back in the lead 28-24.

The Dallas defense went back to work and got the ball back again. This time it was Randy White who forced Chuck Muncie to fumble and linebacker Anthony Dickerson recovered at the Chargers 11 yard line. Two plays later White threw his second touchdown pass of the game as he hit Jay Saldi from 12 yards out. The Cowboys had scored their second touchdown in a 2:31 span and also their third of the quarter. They took a 35-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

As the fourth quarter started Fouts and the Chargers tried to pull closer. Fouts went deep to Winslow. Charlie Waters tipped the ball and Winslow came down with it and raced towards the end zone. Dallas cornerback Aaron Mitchell hit Winslow and forced a fumble at the Dallas 15 yard line. Dennis Thurman scooped up the loose ball and returned it up to the 29 yard line.

The Dallas defense came up with another interception on the Chargers next drive. Dallas took advantage as White threw his third touchdown pass of the game as he connected with Billy Joe DuPree from nine yards out. Dallas took a commanding 42-24 lead on the Chargers.

The Cowboys could have added more points, but Septien missed his third field goal of the game from 44 yards out on the Cowboys next possession.

The Chargers made it a little closer as the game was about to end as Fouts threw his third touchdown pass of the game and second to Winslow.

The Cowboys came away with a 42-31 win against the San Diego Chargers which improved their season record to 6-2. The Dallas offense gained 425 yards on the Chargers as Danny White threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. White also connected with nine different receivers. Keep in mind that the game was played without Tony Dorsett who was out with an injury.Ron Springs filled in for Dorsett and ran for 61 yards on 13 carries.

Although the Chargers came up short in this game their offense was still explosive as Fouts threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns. It was his four interceptions that really hurt his team. Chuck Muncie ran for 71 yards. John Jefferson had 160 yards for the game and Charlie Joiner had 110 yards. The Chargers offense gained 449 yards on the Dallas defense.

“Our offense played very well, particularly in the second half.” observed head coach Tom Landry. It was a great game, a very important one for us. It was one we needed to win.”

“No, things weren’t going by design out there tonight,” White said. “They had a great pass rush and we were able to salvage a lot of busted plays, particularly in the second half. Things seemed to bounce their way in the first half but we got ours in the second.”

You can view the box score here…


0 replies
  1. Kelly H
    Kelly H says:

    Do you think that anyone will look back and write a Flashback about the games we have played in the 2000s? It could happen, we have seen some great games. But if these players don’t bring home a championship soon their names will be lost like Danny White’s. Great QB, he just never got the hardware.


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