Daily Archives: November 15th, 2012

NFL FORGOTTEN RIVALRY–Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns (Special Feature)

Dallas Cowboys Vs Cleveland Browns rivalry game - The Boys Are Back blog

These Cleveland Browns have never beaten the Dallas Cowboys. These Browns – the new Browns, founded in 1999 as a sequel to the historic original franchise. They are 0-2 against Dallas in the regular season heading into today’s important matchup.

1960 Dallas Cowboys 0-11-1 - The Boys Are Back blog

The Paul Brown Browns, however, certainly had the Cowboys’ number over the years, beating up on the NFL newcomers for the majority of the 1960s in a series of matchups that bloomed into a classic rivalry, including three playoff games. After the league’s 1970 merger, when Cleveland moved to the AFC, the rivalry unfortunately faded into history, with the teams meeting only sparingly in the regular season until the late Art Modell relocated the club to Baltimore in 1996.

The Cowboys’ luck in their series with the Browns-Ravens lineage has taken a turn for the worse, of course, with Dallas having never beaten Baltimore in four tries, including the heartbreaker earlier this season and the woeful Week 16 matchup in 2008, when the Ravens turned out the lights on Texas Stadium with a 33-24 victory.

The arrival of Tex Schramm (left) and Tom Landry in 1960 was not immediately followed by much more than losses in Dallas. But the Cowboys stuck with their leadership - The Boys Are Back blog

These things go in cycles, evidently. The original Browns whipped Tom Landry’s upstart team in each of their first four meetings, beginning with their first game, in Week 4 of the Cowboys’ expansion season, 1960. To that point, the team of undrafted rookies and castoffs from other clubs had acquitted itself fairly well against established NFL competition, having lost to the Steelers, Eagles and Redskins in consecutive weeks, but only by a combined 21 points.

The Browns welcomed the Cowboys into the NFL rather rudely, however, one gorgeous October afternoon at the Cotton Bowl, allegedly in front of 28,500 fans, though many reports suggest the stadium wasn’t nearly as full as the club claimed in those early days. Cleveland scored first on a 46-yard carry by future Hall of Fame runner and receiver Bobby Mitchell in the first quarter, before the great Jim Brown plowed in from five yards out in the second. Mitchell then jaunted 30 yards to make the score 21-0 as the floodgates opened, with the Browns returning an interception for a score before halftime, and Mitchell coasting 90 yards for another touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half. The Browns led 48-0 before backup quarterback Don Heinrich tossed a garbage-time touchdown to Billy Howton.

Dallas Cowboys end Billy Howton - The Boys Are Back blog

It was a sign of things to come that season, as the Cowboys went on to post an 0-11-1 record, managing one tie, late in the season against the Giants, while falling by multiple scores in six of the seven losses to come following the trouncing by Cleveland.

The Browns would repeat the favor twice in 1961, as they joined the Cowboys, Steelers, Eagles, Giants, Redskins and St. Louis Cardinals in the newly formed Eastern Conference. That October, they knocked off a surprisingly 2-0 Dallas team, 25-7, at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, and in December helped eviscerate any hopes of a playoff berth for the Cowboys by beating them 38-17 in Fair Park, in the second of four straight Cowboys losses that sunk their record to 4-9-1.

Dallas Cowboys Vs Cleveland Browns rivalry Cotton Bowl - The Boys Are Back blog

The Browns won a 19-10 decision over Dallas at home in the teams’ first meeting in 1962, but the second matchup was a different story, seen as something of a pivot point game for the Cowboys franchise and their young quarterback, Don Meredith. Dallas had jumped out to a fine start to the season again, sitting 4-3-1 on the year before losing five of their last six. The lone exception came on Dec. 2, when they tanned the Browns, 45-21, at the Cotton Bowl, in arguably the best performance of the club in its existence to that point.

Paul Eugene Brown September 7, 1908 – August 5, 1991 - The Boys Are Back blog

“You writers and the football public here don’t realize what a fine team you have here in Dallas,” Paul Brown, an admirer of Landry’s, told the assembled media after the game. “You folks just don’t seem to realize this team can give you a championship. They outplayed us all the way … they deserved to win. I congratulate Tom for a fine job.

“Dallas was an inspired team. They’d never beaten us and it had to come sometime, and they did it to us good today.”

The Browns had traded Cowboys-killer Mitchell to Washington the previous offseason (he scored on a 92-yard kickoff return against the Cowboys in his first game with the Redskins) and Dallas managed to hold Jim Brown to only 29 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, Cowboys running backs Don Perkins and Amos Marsh combined for 209 yards on the ground, while Meredith was 10-of-12 passing for 147 yards and two touchdowns, keeping Cleveland’s defense off balance all day.

Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and quarterback Eddie LeBaron - The Boys Are Back blog

Meredith had been struggling in previous games, and hadn’t yet wrestled full-time duties away from veteran Eddie LeBaron, but the fine day against Cleveland was a prelude of what was to come in his career.

“Meredith certainly had better results today,” Landry said after the game he called the Cowboys’ “best showing against a good team at home.”

Still, that impressive day remained the exception rather than the rule in the early years of the series. The Cowboys continued to muddle along in mediocrity while the Browns remained among the NFL’s elite. Cleveland won the next seven games in the series, not to mention an NFL Championship in 1964, while the Cowboys didn’t even experience their first winning season until 1966.

1967 Dallas Cowboys defeated Cleveland Browns in Eastern Conference Championship game - The Boys Are Back blog

Once Jim Brown retired after the 1965 season, the series turned a bit. Dallas won a measure of confidence that year with a 26-14 home win over a good Browns squad on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys’ debut on the holiday, in what would become an annual tradition. By 1967, the ghosts of Cleveland’s domination had been fully exorcised, or so it would seem. The Cowboys beat Cleveland twice that year, including a 52-14 destruction of the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game, the first playoff win in the club’s eight-year history.

1967 Ice Bowl - The Boys Are Back blog

A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay on a last second Bart Starr sneak in the NFL Championship, the game better known as the Ice Bowl. It was the beginning of the Cowboys’ “Next Year’s Champions” era, though the unwanted legacy was only furthered by playoff slip-ups against … Cleveland.

1968 Cleveland Browns - The Boys Are Back blog

After beating the Browns convincingly in their run to a 12-2 record in 1968, the heavily favored Cowboys fell to the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game.

“A whole year shot in two-and-a-half hours,” Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm surmised afterward.

It turned out to be the last game of Meredith’s career and a rather disgraced ending. He completed only three of nine passes, connecting with the Browns as often as his own receivers. Meredith’s interceptions led to 17 Cleveland points, and he eventually gave way to Craig Morton under a deafening swarm of boos, the Cotton Bowl crowd en masse deciding their team could never win with Dandy Don, despite the fact he’d posted his best season yet in 1968.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton (14) talks to Tom Landry - The Boys Are Back blog

“We needed a psychological lift,” Landry said following the loss. “Morton was the only thing I had that I could use. I took Meredith out not so much for what he was doing, but to try to shake them up. … I hated to take him out. In my opinion, he wasn’t wholly responsible. I don’t know what he will do (in the offseason). I can’t speak for him, but you can bet he feels worse than anybody right now about this game.

“I wouldn’t say (we) got whipped physically – it was more mentally than physically.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith - The Boys Are Back blog

With Meredith retiring after the season, Morton accepted the offensive reins, but his luck against the Browns and in the playoffs was no better. He threw three picks in a 42-10 Week 7 drubbing at Cleveland in 1969, one of just two Cowboys losses in the regular season. Yet again, Dallas was favored in an Eastern Championship matchup with the Browns, and yet again they came up short. Way short.

The Browns jumped out to a 24-0 lead at the Cotton Bowl, and put the finishing touches on the game when Walt Sumner returned a Morton interception 88 yards for a fourth quarter score. Roger Staubach took over for Morton, but the lead was too far out of reach even for “Captain Comeback,” and the Browns advanced with a 38-14 victory.

“We’re not choke-ups,” receiver Bob Hayes said after the game. “There were 40 guys out there and every one of them played his heart out. … I don’t know what happened. Nobody does. It’s a mystery to all of us. We were ready.

Bob Hayes' speed gave opposing cornerbacks fits and Cowboys QB Roger Staubach an easy target down the field - The Boys Are Back blog

“I looked over to our bench and I could see shoulders sag. Guys who had been eager and jumping to get into the game seemed to be saying, ‘Oh no, here we go again. You play hard to get to this game – the playoffs – and you either have it or you don’t have it. We didn’t have it. Why? It’s a mystery to me. We’ve been pointing to this particular game since last September. It’s one we knew we had to win. We have to win a big one to shake off this image. Some day we’re going to do it.”

The Browns had played a huge role in the Cowboys’ earning of the “Next Year’s Champions” moniker. Cleveland had dominated the all-time series to that point, with 14 wins against only five losses, but Dallas has gotten the best of Browns since, winning seven of the 10 matchups between the clubs. None of the games was bigger than 1970, the Browns’ first year in the AFC, when chance pitted the teams in a late season battle once again. The Cowboys had opened the season 5-4, and needed a serious winning streak late in the season to earn a playoff spot. On a muddy, near-freezing day at Municipal Stadium, Dallas triumphed 6-2, the product of two Mike Clark field goals and an excellent day for Landry’s defense, which shut down the Browns running game and recorded four takeaways.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns rivalry - The Boys Are Back blog

When the Cleveland franchise was reformed in 1999 – four years after the original club moved to Baltimore – their first preseason outing was against the Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. It would prove to be a remarkable night, not only for the Browns’ rebirth, but also as the rare preseason contest that reached overtime, something coaches typically try their best to avoid.

Football is back in Cleveland - The Boys Are Back blog

Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, Don Meredith and Bob Hayes had given way to the likes of Karim Abdul-Jabbar at running back and Tim Couch at quarterback for the Browns, with backups such as Ryan Neufeld and Singor Mobley playing big roles for the Cowboys by the end, when Cleveland’s Phil Dawson decided the game with a field goal.

“It’s good to see the Dawg Pound back in the NFL,” Troy Aikman said afterward, welcoming the return of the new, old Browns, three years after their apparent demise, and some 30 years since they last played the Cowboys for something truly meaningful.

The teams had certainly played bigger contests, but the history behind the preseason opener made it at least noteworthy, just like today’s game, echoes of an all-but-forgotten rivalry.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman Roger Staubach Don Meredith Craig Morton Danny White - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and Danny White

Blog hint: With nearly every photograph on The Boys Are Back blog, you can get additional information by hovering over the photo with your cursor. Many times, if you’ll click on the photo you’ll see a larger image.

First photo: Amos Marsh Jr. (jersey #31), Full Back/Return Specialist, 1961-1964

Amos Marsh Jr. was signed as a rookie undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1961, because they were impressed by his speed. Back then his nicknames were "Moose" and "Forward Marsh".

He started his career as a wide receiver and special teams player. In 1962 to take advantage of his size and speed, he was moved to fullback, playing alongside Don Perkins where he became one of the league top 10 rushers with 802 yards and a 5.6 yards average per carry. That year he also set the franchise record for the longest kickoff return with 101 yards, a record that was broken by Alexander Wright 29 years later in 1991. The play came against the Philadelphia Eagles, when the Cowboys became the first NFL team in history to produce two 100-yard plays in the same game: a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown by strong safety Mike Gaechter and the 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marsh.

Marsh’s production regressed during the following years, leading the Cowboys to trade him to the Detroit Lions in 1965 after the team acquired fullback J.D. Smith

Courtesy: Dallas Star magazine | Cleveland Plain Dealer archives | NFL | Dallas Cowboys

The Boys Are Back bonus: The History of the American Football League

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DALLAS STAR WATCH: Trent Richardson hopes idol Emmitt Smith will be in Dallas

Trent Richardson named SEC Player of the Week - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Trent Richardson named SEC Player of the Week

BEREA, OHIO — Trent Richardson attended the same high school as Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. The talented rookie also owned a No. 22 Cowboys jersey with Smith’s name on it.

Trent Richardson, talking with high school students - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Trent Richardson, talking with high school students

On Sunday afternoon, Richardson hopes to play in front of his idol for the first time as a professional when the Browns travel to Dallas.

Trent Richardson idol Emmitt Smith - The Boys Are Back blog

“I’m one of Emmitt’s biggest fans, so it would mean a lot to me if he’s at the game,” Richardson said Wednesday following practice. “He’s someone who I’ve gotten to know pretty well and he’s a great man.

“We talk probably two or three times a month, and the thing I appreciate the most is he’ll be straight with you. He’ll tell me exactly how I’ve been doing and what I need to do to get better.”

Smith regularly attends Cowboys home games and resides in North Texas, but team officials couldn’t guarantee his attendance this weekend. The Pensacola Escambia High graduate is completing on the all-star edition of “Dancing With The Stars,” which airs live from Hollywood each Monday.

Not surprisingly, Richardson said he is tuning in each week to watch Smith strut his stuff in the ballroom.

“Definitely, he got moves, man,” the third overall draft pick said, laughing. “He’s a champion in all phases; dancing, playing football, everything.”

Smith still sits atop the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 18,355 yards (eight years after his retirement), while Richardson leads Cleveland with 575 yards through nine games this season.

Trent Richardson Cleveland Browns running back - The Boys Are Back blog

Though Richardson is quick to say he hasn’t earned the right to be compared to his mentor, it’s worth noting that he is on pace to eclipse Smith’s rookie rushing total of 937 yards with Dallas in 1990.

“He’s the person I wanted to be like the most when I was growing up,” Richardson said. “I watched him all the time, just like I go back and watch tapes of Walter Payton and Jim Brown.

“How can you be a great running back if you don’t watch tapes of guys like that to learn from?”

Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith - NFL all-time leading rusher - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith – NFL’s all-time leading rusher

Richardson added that his ailing ribs feel much better after the Browns’ bye week, but he still isn’t close to 100 percent healthy. The 5-foot-9, 230-pounder suffered torn cartilage during Cleveland’s Oct. 14 victory over Cincinnati.

“He says he’s healthier, but I haven’t like punched him in the ribs or anything to check,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur joked. “But he’s going to be out there practicing and said he feels good. That’s a positive sign for our team.”

Courtesy: Brian Dulik | Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio)

Editors Comment: It should be noted that while Emmitt Smith is his idol and mentor, Cleveland’s stud running back Trent Richardson sports a jersey of another famous Dallas Cowboy … Tony Dorsett.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Lawrence Vickers fired up again … about his old team coming to Big D

Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers ready for Cleveland Browns - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers doesn’t care about his sore knee or that he played 27 plays last week or that he had four touches last week. All he cares about is beating Cleveland.

"Cleveland was home. I was there five years," Vickers said. "I gave that organization a lot. I learned a lot. I got a lot from them. I appreciate them for even drafting me. It’s personal in the sense that it’s like playing your family. Whenever you play against family, you want them bragging rights. So yeah, it’s personal."

Vickers was a sixth-round draft pick of the Browns in 2006. On Thursday, Vickers named the two head coaches, the four offensive coordinators and the seven starting quarterbacks he played for and with in Cleveland before leaving for the Texans as a free agent during the 2011 off-season.

"If you give something five years of your life, and you put all you put into it, it’s going to be personal to you," Vickers said. "Point blank, period. It is what it is. It’s not that, ‘Oh, I’m mad.’ I’m not mad, upset, at all. Cleveland gave me a chance. They were the team that picked me in the draft, so I’ll forever love Cleveland. They gave me the chance to do what I wanted to do, and that’s play football. So it’s no hate thing. It’s I’m going to celebrate."

Vickers’ sore left knee kept him out of practice Wednesday, and he was limited Thursday. But Vickers says he won’t miss Sunday’s game for anything.

"It would take for me to die [to not play]," Vickers said. "Lord bless me, I hope I don’t do that. I ain’t missing this for nothing in the world. It’s personal. Believe that one."

HUMOROUS FLASHBACK: Lawrence Vickers leaves practice with fire ants in his pants

May 23, 2012; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers (47) stretches during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys headquarters.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

I must start off this post by saying that we’re not making this up. 

Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers was forced to leave Wednesday’s OTA practice once he felt the burning sensation of fire ants in his pants.

“Fire ants got in my pants,” Vickers said. “I was freaking out. Oh, ants!”

Fire ants are reportedly a nuisance in the Dallas around this time of year.  Vickers was bitten by them about four months ago.  At that time he found out he’s allergic to them when he started wheezing and his neck started to swell up.  Now he carries an EpiPen with him for cases like today.

MORE ABOUT VICKERS –> PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dallas Cowboys FB Lawrence Vickers

BURDEN LIFTED OFF SHOULDERPADS: With incident resolved, Dez Bryant to stay focused on being great football player

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant in the spotlight - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING – Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant expressed relief and satisfaction that the ugly incident involving his mother has finally been resolved and he can move forward.

“I just feel better man, that it’s done and it’s over with,” Bryant said in the locker room a day after his attorney Royce West signed off on a conditional dismissal agreement with the Dallas County District Attorney.

If Bryant completes one-year of anger management classes and stays out of trouble for a year, the misdemeanor family violence charge will be dismissed.

“I am extremely excited we came to an agreement, and I’m just going to do what I need with my teammates, to be a great teammate, a great person and a great player as well, Bryant said. “I’m excited. I’m just ready to stay focused on football and you known, um, play some great football.”

The case puts Bryant in the cross hairs of the NFL’s personal conduct policy and commissioner Roger Goodell. He could be line for further discipline not just by the Dallas County district attorney but the NFL if doesn’t complete his year incident free.

Bryant said he’s not worried about that because he has no plans on getting in trouble.

He was already undergoing anger management classes and has a security detail with him whenever he goes out, as stipulated by his attorney Royce West and agent Eugene Parker. 

What he’s most excited about is the burden it lifts off his shoulders, allowing him to focus mainly on football and being the best player he can be.

Bryant has caught 45 passes for 590 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.

After having the first injury free off season for the first time in his career, Bryant had hoped to have a breakout season but that was tainted in July when he was arrested for assaulting his mother Angela Bryant, a week before the starting of training camp.

Bryant went silent and didn’t talk to the media until after the Sept. 5 season opener against the Giants. And then it was only about football _ until Thursday when he spoke about the case for the first time.

“It bothered me a little bit," Bryant said. "It’s over now. I feel comfortable and I’m ready to stay focused on this football and keep my mind on that and nothing else. I feel I’m back to being Dez. I’m playing free.”

STEPPING UP RESPECT: Jeff Fisher punishes two Rams by making them run stadium stairs amid fans

St Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher had Janoris Jenkins and Chris Givens getting in an extra workout - The Boys Are Back blog

Hall of Fame 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice used to run up the stairs of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park as part of his basic training. Sunday, two Rams rookies reportedly did the same—not by choice.

St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher made cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens run those same stadium stairs shortly before kickoff as an extended punishment for violating a team rule. Both Jenkins and Givens already were deactivated for the Rams’ afternoon game with the Niners, which ended in a 24-24 tie. Fisher didn’t allow the pair to play because of a curfew violation.

Fisher has brought a much-needed sense of discipline in his first year as the Rams’ coach and sent a strong message in Week 10, as his team responded with a great road effort. In the case of Jenkins and Givens not suiting up, the next men up happened to be fellow rookies, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and wide receiver Brian Quick.

Jenkins and Givens had been key contributors through the first half of the season, so it shows that Fisher isn’t giving anyone special treatment. Given the workout they just got, you can bet the rookies will think more than twice before being late for anything.

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