Flashback, Cowboys vs Packers – 1982

Although the Cowboys are in the middle of a very disappointing season I thought it would be a good idea to continue my Flashback posts. It’s always nice to dive into a classic game that involved some all-time great players. 

The 1982 season was a strange season with a strike that cancelled seven games of the regular season. The divisions in both conferences were wiped out and when the games started it up again the NFL decided to just do the AFC and the NFC. The top eight teams in both conferences would make the playoffs. 

In the second round of the playoffs the Cowboys took on the Green Bay Packers at Texas Stadium. The first quarter was slow as the Cowboys could only manage a 50 yard field goal from Rafael Septien. He added a second field goal early in the second quarter and the Cowboys took a 6-0 lead.

The Cowboys defense had kept the high scoring Packers offense in check until mid way through the second quarter. Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey drove his offense 73 yards to the Cowboys six yard line. Dickey’s two wide receivers James Lofton and James Jefferson lined up to the left. Lofton put a fake on Dennis Thurman and caught the touchdown pass from Dickey to put the Packers ahead, 7-6. Thurman would get his revenge later in the game with three interceptions of Dickey.

The long drive by the Packers did not seem to bother the Cowboys offense as they say waiting on the sidelines. When the Cowboys got the ball back Danny White drove them 80 yards to the Packers two yard line. From there Timmy Newsome scored to give the lead back to the Cowboys, 13-7.

The Packers got the ball back on their own 25 yard line with 1:13 left in the first half. Instead of running out the clock, Packers coach Bart Starr instructed Dickey to throw a sideline pass to Jefferson. Dennis Thurman, who was in single coverage on Jefferson read the play and then made the play. Thurman stepped in front of Jefferson at the Packers 39 yard line and took it the distance for the touchdown. The Cowboys took a commanding 20-7 lead at halftime.

“He tried to push me off,” said Thurman, who had Jefferson in single coverage. “At that point, I knew he was running an out pattern. I read his route and got underneath him.”

Even down by 13 points the Packers came out in the second half ready to play. Their offense went to a three wide receiver set and started to put some drives together against the Cowboys defense. Although the Packers were dominating in the third quarter they only managed two field goals from Jan Stenerud and pulled closer to the Cowboys, 20-13.

The Cowboys needed a spark, which came from rookie kick returner Rod Hill. After the Packers kicked their second field goal of the third quarter Hill took the kickoff and raced 89 yards to the Packers 24 yard line. The Cowboys could only manage another Septien field goal to increase their lead to 23-13 as the third quarter ended. The wake up call was just what the Cowboys needed for an action packed fourth quarter.

The fireworks started early in the fourth quarter for the Packers. On the first play of the quarter from the Packers 29 yard line Dickey handed off to running back Eddie Lee Ivery. Ivery then handed the ball to Lofton who had cut across the backfield for the reverse. Lofton then raced untouched through the Cowboys defense with some timely blocks and scored from 71 yards out. Rod Hill got into the act again as he blocked the Packers extra point. The Packers were now down 23-19.

The Cowboys offense came right back as Danny White led them 80 yards on their next possession. White capped the drive with a seven yard touchdown pass to tight end Doug Cosbie to put the Cowboys up 30-19.

The Packers were forced to punt on their next possession. The Cowboys got the ball at their own 15 yard line with 7:23 left in the game. Danny White attempted a pass to Newsome coming out of the backfield. The pass was a little behind Newsome and bounced off his hand. Packer’s cornerback Mark Lee was there for the deflection and raced 22 yards for the touchdown. The Packers were now only down by four, 30-26.

Like so many times before in this game the Cowboys took the momentum back from the Packers on their next drive. The Cowboys faced a third and four from their own 43 yard line. Danny White found Doug Cosbie for a seven yard gain to midfield and a first down.

“If your looking for the key play of the game, there it is,” said White 

With the Cowboys sitting at midfield Tom Landry remembered a play from the second quarter and so did Drew Pearson and Tony Hill. Danny White threw a screen pass to Pearson that only gained three yards, but Landry, Pearson and Hill noticed that the Packers defenders all came up on the play to stop Pearson, which left Tony Hill all alone.

Tom Landry called the same screen pass to Pearson from midfield, but this time Pearson had the freedom to unload if the situation was right. Pearson had some experience at quarterback from when he was in high school. After Pearson received the screen pass from White he decided it was time to throw it down field. The pass was not pretty as it wobbled and went over Tony Hill’s wrong shoulder. But Hill came down with the pass and was tackled at the one yard line.

“We had to have a big play,” Landry said

“He (Landry) said if I don’t have the touchdown, then I don’t have anything,” Pearson said. “I just threw it up, and Tony made the play.”

“When I saw Drew wind up, I thought he was going to throw it out of the stadium,” Hill said. “It was a great pass.”

On the next play the Cowboys put the game away with 4:24 left. Robert Newhouse scored from the one yard line and the Cowboys won the game 37-26.

The Cowboys defense collected four sacks on Lynn Dickey and three interceptions, all by Dennis Thurman.

Danny White led the Cowboys offense with 225 yards passing and one touchdown. Tony Dorsett gained 99 yards on the ground. Tony Hill had 142 yards receiving.

The win put the Cowboys back in the NFC Championship game for the third season in a row. They would have to travel to Washington to face the Redskins in RFK Stadium this time. The Redskins fans were ready as they chanted “We want Dallas” in the stands while the Redskins were beating the Vikings in their second round playoff game.

“We’re looking forward to it.” he said. “I saw everybody (the Redskins fans) wanted us back. I’m glad we can accommodate them.”

The box score from the game against the Packers can be seen here.


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