DALLAS COWBOYS LEGACY: Ranking sack-master DeMarcus Ware among franchise greats
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is just days away.
With just four days until the Dallas Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., one question centers on DeMarcus Ware closing-in on the team’s sack record and where that might put him among the franchise’s best players.
Where does DeMarcus Ware rank among Dallas Cowboy greats?
Barring any significant injury – and if 2012 showed us anything it’s that it takes a lot more than just an average injury to sideline DeMarcus Ware – at some point early this season the Cowboys will have a new all-time sack leader.
The late Harvey Martin has held that distinction since he retired in 1983, sitting at the top of the charts with 114 sacks. Ware currently has 111, meaning he needs just four more sacks this year to surpass Martin as the Cowboys’ all-time leader.
Officially, according to the NFL, Ware already holds the mark because the league didn’t start registering sacks as an official stat until 1982. But the Cowboys have kept the correct stats and Martin has had the lead for 30 years. That will likely change this season, considering Ware hasn’t been held under double-digit sacks since his rookie year of 2005.
So when that happens, what will it mean for DeMarcus Ware’s legacy with the Cowboys? Will it even change at all?
Martin holding the club’s sack record hasn’t been enough to land him a spot in the Ring of Honor. Many pundits believe Martin is the biggest snub of the Tom Landry era and is the most deserving to get into the Ring. However, Ware is seemingly a lock for the Ring of Honor when his playing days are done.
But even if he never plays for a championship team, is it possible for Ware to be considered one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history? Stats-wise, he’ll be more accomplished than Bob Lilly or Randy White and Martin. But those guys have Super Bowl rings.
Just how far does Ware have to stretch the sack record to overlook his lack of team success? Then again, Ware turns 31 next month. He still has a few good years in him and who knows what the Cowboys will do as a team over the next few seasons.
With four sacks, Ware will be considered the very best Cowboys player to rush the quarterback. But just how many sacks will he need to be considered the best defensive player in franchise history?
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 4:
- DeMarco Murray had just four rushing touchdowns last season to lead the team. Kevin Ogletree also had four receiving touchdowns, which ranked him third behind Dez Bryant (12) and Miles Austin (six).
- The only player drafted No. 4 in franchise history was Scott Appleton, a defensive tackle in 1964. Appleton never suited up for the Cowboys, who traded his rights to the Steelers.
- Only four players have donned the No. 4 for the Cowboys: Mike Saxon, Toby Gowin, Micah Knorr and Shaun Suisham.
- Isaac Holt is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in blocked punts with four, all occurring in a four-year span from 1989-92.
- Dennis Thurman and Dexter Coakley are tied for the most interception returns for touchdowns in team history with four each.
- Bob Hayes (1970) and Terrell Owens (2007) are the only two players in Cowboys history to record four touchdown catches in a game.
LIVING LEGEND: Danny White always seems to end up with the Dallas Cowboys (Special Feature)
The path Danny White took from Arizona State to becoming the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys made San Francisco’s Lombard Street look like a drag strip.
Selected in the third round of the 1974 NFL draft, the odds White would see much playing time under center as a rookie were lessened due to the presence of veteran quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Craig Morton.
If anyone ever needed a Plan B …
“It was just pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be playing anytime soon. And then it kind of came down to money,” said White. “John Bassett, who was one of the founders of the World Football League and the owner of the Memphis team, called and basically offered twice what the Cowboys had offered. So between the money and the opportunity to play it just seemed like the best thing to do.”
After two seasons, the WFL closed shop, and White discovered he was still in Dallas’ plans as well as its Rolodex.
“The Cowboys immediately called after the league folded and basically doubled their offer,” White said. “I had the experience and Craig Morton had just been traded, so everything just kind of fit. It was almost like it was kind of meant to be.”
Eventually. After signing with Dallas in 1976, White took over the punting duties and watched Staubach from the sideline. Did he find it tough to be in No. 12’s shadow?
“By the time I had been backing him up for four years, it was getting difficult,” said White. “I had a meeting with Coach Landry and told him that I was to the point where I felt like I needed to play. I was six years out of college and if I wasn’t going to be playing there soon I wanted him to consider trading me.
“I loved being with the Cowboys, so I had mixed feelings about it. But I knew that my time was running out. I needed to start competing. Roger always made it seem like I was competing with him. To his credit, he’d always say things like, ‘I can’t let you get in a game or I’ll never get back in.’
“And he would compete. It wasn’t like he was just there and it was his job. He never took on that kind of an attitude. He treated me like a competitor, like an equal. He was a great mentor for me in that respect.”
Playing with the Cowboys for 13 seasons, White passed for 21,959 yards, 155 touchdowns and 132 interceptions, and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1982. He led Dallas to three consecutive NFC Championship Games [1980-82] and to the playoffs on two other occasions before retiring in 1989.
“My favorite memories were things that happened as a result of being a Dallas Cowboy with my teammates,” said White.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White catches a touchdown pass from Ron Springs in this Oct. 23, 1983, game against the Los Angeles Raiders at Texas Stadium
“As far as games go, that first season (as a starter in 1980) was a dream season for me. I inherited a great team and all the pieces were there. I remember thinking, ‘This is easy. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.’ Of course, that would change by the end of my career, but at least those first few years were.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White and the plays AFTER ‘The Catch’
“The Atlanta playoff game [1980: 30-27 win] was a great game. The 49ers game with ‘The Catch’ was a great game, too [1981: 28-27 loss]. It was just great being part of that. I wish we would have come back and won that. We should have, but it was still a great experience.”
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White fake punt vs. Washington Redskins
“I would have to say the highlight of my career was being a Dallas Cowboy. Being a part of that era and playing for Tom Landry. Things like that you don’t appreciate until many years later. I look back on that now and realize how lucky I was to play for that team and that coach at that time.”
Following a successful career as a head coach, general manager and team president in the Arena Football League, White is set to begin his third season as the radio analyst for Dallas’ games on Compass Media Networks.
“They approached me and I kind of thought twice about it and said, ‘You know what? I haven’t been real close with the Cowboys mostly because I live in Phoenix and here’s a chance to kind of get back in the fold,’” White said. “I loved what Jerry Jones had done with the new stadium and everything that had happened, so why not? Let’s do it for a year and see what happens.
“And so I did and I just loved it. I love being back in the Cowboy family. I love working with [play-by-play announcer] Kevin Burkhardt and the Compass people, Michelle Salvatore, who is our producer. Everything just kind of clicked.”
Having played in 166 regular-season games with the Cowboys, White has an on-the-job advantage in the broadcast booth. It’s that he’s done the job on the field.
“Knowing what’s going on in a quarterback’s head can be a huge, huge advantage,” said White. “Everyone is so quick to say, ‘Well, the guy was open and the ball was thrown over his head.’ Just knowing, you say, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe there’s a reason that the ball was thrown over his head.’ And you go back and look and sure enough there was a defensive lineman right in his face as he throws the ball. He can’t follow through. There’s always more to the story.
“Everybody’s so quick to judge the quarterback. The quarterback isn’t good one day and bad the next day. There are reasons for it and I think more than anything else that one single advantage of having played quarterback just gives you a whole different perspective on the game. You can counter some of those lazy critics that just want to say, ‘The ball was overthrown,’ or whatever the obvious is on the field.”
White and his wife, Jo Lynn, make their home in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ari. They have four children, Ryan, Geoff, Heather and Reed, and 13 grandchildren.
CARRYING THE TORCH: Monte Kiffin says Cowboys organization ‘reeks with tradition’, he and Marinelli soaked it in
Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli made sure they walked into Valley Ranch the right way -– by soaking it all in.
“You walk through this, I mean, it just reeks with tradition here,” Kiffin said Thursday as he met with reporters at Valley Ranch for the first time since being named the team’s new defensive coordinator, and since bringing along former colleague Rod Marinelli to be defensive line coach.
“And you see all these pictures. And Rod Marinelli came in and we were so – we just went out to the front and walked … we just pretended we were coming in for the first time,” Kiffin said. “I said, ‘You’ve got to see this, Rod.’ We went outside and walked back in. I said, ‘Look at this.’ ”
Marinelli said he saw plenty of history up close in Chicago, too, as defensive coordinator with the Bears.
“I just love the history of the game of football,” he said. “I was in Chicago. The history is there. Then, you come here and wow, the history is fabulous. It’s something as a coach you’ve got to relate back to the players, how fortunate we are to be where we are, and there is a history here. We’ve got to understand that and there are standards we’ve got to match up to.”
Kiffin also appreciates NFL history, so he had an idea what it meant to join the Cowboys, one of the most followed teams in the NFL. But he said it was confirmed to him without a doubt when he went to pick up his wife at the airport just a few days after he got into town.
“I’m flipping around the radio stations, and it isn’t just like sports talk, or this or that, it’s the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “Believe it or not, I hit a button, hit another, and they are still talking Dallas Cowboys. But anyway, you are all fired up down here. It is what it is. That’s why it’s the Dallas Cowboys. That’s why it’s the dream team. I’m just a young pup, or whatever, but you heard about the Dallas Cowboys back in those days.”
Kiffin: I’m Seventy-Two Going On Fifty-Two (Click HERE to play)
Monte Kiffin talks about his excitement in joining the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, and what his plans for the defense are going forward.
THROWBACK: Very first win for Dallas Cowboys was a memorable one
Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Ray Buck takes a look at the history of the Cowboys – from a great game to a singular moment to a memorable player – this is a reprint of his online-exclusive offering posted Friday, Mar. 21, 2008
In high school, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
In college, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
Playing for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, Tubbs was a big-time inside linebacker on three undefeated teams (1954-56).
This came during Wilkinson’s historic 47-0 run (1953-57) — still an NCAA Division I record.
“I was in the middle of the streak. We went 31-0,” Tubbs said. “To be able to say you never lost a game in college…..well, that’s my greatest claim.
“I was one lucky guy.”
However, Tubbs’ luck quickly ran amok in the NFL.
He was taken by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the ’57 draft — 10th overall. Suddenly, he found himself on a perennial loser, playing out of position (outside — not inside), then eventually benched, then cut near the end of his second season.
Although he landed on his feet in San Francisco, where he quickly elevated his pro game, he concluded that it might be time to find a job in the real world.
It was after the ’59 season. He was about to turn 25.
“Coca-Cola had this job opening for a district manager in Arkansas,” said Tubbs, whose idle thoughts became real concerns of 49ers coach Red Hickey.
“Jerry, I’ve got to know,” Hickey told him. “We like you. We want you. But if you’re going to retire, then I’m going to put you on that ‘Dallas Cowboys’ expansion list.”
The color ran out of Jerry’s face.
“I knew an expansion team wasn’t going to win,” Tubbs said. “But I was being honest. I told Red Hickey, ‘Coach, I can’t really tell you what I’m going to do yet.’ And so, he put me on the list.”
As it turned out, Tubbs would spend the next 29 years in Dallas — as a player, then a player-coach, then a fulltime assistant.
Playing/working for Tom Landry would prove to be heaven on earth — but Tubbs had no idea of that in 1960.
He never lost a game in college. Now he would be joining an expansion team that wouldn’t win a game all season. The ’60 Cowboys ended up 0-11-1.
“It looked like we were never going to win a game,” Tubbs recalled.
The closest they came was a 31-31 tie at New York in the next-to-last game of that inaugural season.
Little Eddie LeBaron picked apart a championship-tested Giants defense and snapped the Dallas losing streak at 10. But the non-winning streak would grow to 12 with a season-ending loss at Detroit.
“But I have to tell you, it felt like we won the world championship — when we tied New York,” Tubbs said. “Of course, we didn’t hit the jackpot until the start of ’61.”
“The Jackpot” came Sept. 17, 1961, against a veteran Steelers team led the legendary Bobby Layne; Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson, and a grizzled defense featuring future Cowboys coach Ernie Stautner.
On this day, the Cowboys would finally achieve a regular-season victory, but not without some smoke and mirrors.
They would need to score 10 points in the final 56 seconds.
They would need help from the most unlikely hero on the team: Rookie kicker Allen Green, who was playing in his first NFL game.
But it all came together for a Cotton Bowl crowd of 23,500.
The Star-Telegram reported in its Sept. 18, 1961, editions:
“Rookie Allen Green, a pressure-resistant Rebel from Mississippi, kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last second of the game to give the incredible Cowboys a 27-24 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Cotton Bowl Sunday.”
We’ve tried to track him down. No one seems to know where he went, and few remember from where he came.
Allen Green had a knack for game-winning field goals at Ole Miss, according to his 1962 Post Cereal football card. (Post Cereal, however, didn’t get the memo that Green would be out of the league after the ’61 season — never to return again.)
Read the cereal card: “Al’s three-pointer in the last seconds of the 1958 season gave Ole Miss a 10-7 victory over Arkansas and his 41-yarder in the final seconds gained a 6-6 tie with LSU…..a specialist on last-second victories.”
Actually, Green’s right foot accounted for half of the 4-9-1 Cowboys’ four victories in 1961. (Another game-winner came in the final minute at New York 17-16.)
However, Green made only 5 of 15 field-goal attempts while averaging 37.3 yards on 60 punts. It wasn’t enough to keep his job in Dallas — or find another one in the NFL.
“But that was a pretty big kick he had against Pittsburgh,” recalled Tubbs. “It got the monkey off our backs; that’s exactly what it did.”
Unlikely hero. Thrilling comeback. But there was much more to this first-ever victory in franchise history.
“The Cowboys looked like they were fighting a lost cause in the last six minutes,” according to the lone Star-Telegram game story on Sept. 18, 1961. “John Sample of the Steelers picked off a Don Meredith pass and raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 5:52 remaining.
The Steelers led 24-17.
Off the bench came LeBaron, who “started throwing his life-saving pitches,” according to the newspaper. The “stubby” LeBaron completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards — including a 17-yard touchdown strike to tight end Dick Bielski.
The game was tied 24-24 with 56 seconds left.
This is where Tubbs came in. His INT from the middle- linebacker position made Allen Green’s dramatics possible.
Wrote the Star-Telegram:
“No one dared dream the Cowboys would ever get the ball again. But linebacker Jerry Tubbs apparently wasn’t watching the clock. The old master, Bobby Layne…..erringly threw down the middle and Tubbs stole it on the Dallas 38.”
The Dallas offense was back on the field. LeBaron eventually hit Bill Howton, who scooted out of bounds to stop the clock.
In came Allen Who?
“Winning was such a good feeling that day,” Tubbs recalled. “And it felt good to have had a little bit of something to do with it.”
Wrote the Sept. 8, 1961, Star-Telegram: “The Cowboys failed to choke on their 56-second time limitation…..and sent the stunned Steelers reeling back to Pennsylvania.”
Tubbs can’t recall what Landry said or did after the win — or even whether he had a reaction.
“I don’t remember Tom being very animated at all,” he said.
Tubbs, who won All-America honors and finished fourth in the ’56 Heisman Trophy balloting (won by Paul Hornung), was rejuvenated enough by what Landry was doing with the upstart Cowboys to take a flyer on that Coca-Cola job.
Today, Jerry and his wife, Marlene, live in University Park. They recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Every morning, Jerry — a native Texan born in Breckenridge 73 years ago — gets up, eats breakfast and makes the one-hour drive to his ranch northeast of McKinney. There, he keeps close to 100 head of cattle.
Don’t tell anybody…..but Jerry is playing hurt right now. He recently cracked a vertebra in his lower back when caught between a pair of 1,500-pound bulls.
“One of ’em whipped around at full speed,” said Tubbs. “But it wasn’t the bull’s fault. It was mine.”Tubbs will forever be linked to Landry.
When Landry was fired, Tubbs was fired.
“I got a few calls from other teams (in 1989), but I wasn’t interested,” said Tubbs, who found what he missed most about football was “getting it right as a team” on Sunday afternoon.
And for that, he has plenty of good memories with the Cowboys: 20 consecutive winning seasons, five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins.
But when Tom Landry never worked again in the NFL, Jerry Tubbs never worked again in the NFL. He would have it no other way.
COURTESY: RAY BUCK | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Marcia Melton of the Star-Telegram library contributed to the research of this story.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Dallas Cowboys 27
Weather: 66 degrees, relative humidity 55%, wind 11 mph
|Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-0)||0||14||0||10||24|
|Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0)||7||3||7||10||27|
|1st||Cowboys||Frank Clarke 44 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||0||7|
|2nd||Steelers||John Henry Johnson 1 yard rush (Bobby Layne kick)||7||7|
|Steelers||Buddy Dial 44 yard pass from Bobby Layne (Bobby Layne kick)||14||7|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 15 yard field goal||14||10|
|3rd||Cowboys||Billy Howton 45 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||14||17|
|4th||Steelers||Lou Michaels 12 yard field goal||17||17|
|Steelers||Johnny Sample 39 yard interception return (Bobby Layne kick)||24||17|
|Cowboys||Dick Bielski 17 yard pass from Don Meredith (Allen Green kick)||24||24|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 27 yard field goal||24||27|
|Net pass yards||237||307|
Passing, Rushing, & Receiving
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||1||0||0||0||0||12||36||1||0||3||54||0||0|
Defense & Returns
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||0||0||0||1||11||11.0||0||0|
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
Kicking & Punting
|Bobby Joe Green||PIT||4||176||44.0||0|
MILESTONES: Achieved during Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys game
Here are the historical notes compiled after todays game with the Washington Redskins:
The Dallas Cowboys had 458 yards of total offense today. It was the second-most total yardage output for the club this season behind its 481 yards at Baltimore (10/14). It was also the club’s fifth 400-yard game of the season – tied for the eighth-most in a season in franchise history. Six times the club had six games with 400-plus yards and the club record is eight, established in 2009.
Dan Bailey was true on all three of his field goal tries, including a career-long tying 51-yarder. Today was the third time he hit a 51-yard field goal. The first was against St. Louis (10/23/11) and the second was against the N.Y. Giants (10/28/12).
Bailey’s three field goal conversions today gave him his 10th career game making three-plus field goals. He is now tied with Chris Boniol for the third-most games with three-or-more field goals converted in team history. Richie Cunningham (11) is second and Rafael Septien (21) has the team-high.
Dez Bryant led the team with a career-high tying 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight catches. He had an 85-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter today. It was the longest catch of his career, tied for the ninth-longest play in team history and was the longest pass reception by a Cowboy since Jason Tucker had a 90-yard touchdown catch against the N.Y. Giants (1/2/00).
Bryant’s 145 yards today gave him 2,369 for his career and allowed him to pass Daryl Johnston (2,227), Preston Pearson (2,274), Raghib Ismail (2,281), Joey Galloway (2,341) and Bill Howton (2,368) for 21st in franchise history.
Bryant’s touchdown catches gave him his third straight game with a scoring reception – tying the longest streak in his career.
Bryant’s multiple touchdown reception game today was his second multi-touchdown game of the season and fourth of his career. It also gave him 21 career touchdown catches to move past Butch Johnson (19) and Terry Glenn (20) for 14th in franchise history.
Bryant’s 145-yard outing tied the second-most yards by a Cowboys receiver on Thanksgiving Day. Michael Irvin has the high (157 – vs. Pittsburgh, 11/28/91) and both Lance Rentzel (vs. St. Louis, 11/23/67) and Miles Austin (vs. Oakland, 11/26/09) were also tied for second with 145 each.
Tyrone Crawford had his first career sack (for 0 yards) today. It occurred in the second quarter.
Felix Jones finished today’s game with six rushes for 14 yards and three catches for 47 yards with a touchdown. His touchdown catch gave him a score in his third consecutive game (two receiving and one rush). It is the second-longest touchdown streak in his career behind a four-game streak in weeks 1-4 of his rookie season in 2008 (three rush and one kickoff return).
Jones caught three passes today to give him 127 for his career and break a tie with Pettis Norman and Alvin Harper (124) and tie Eric Bjornson for 35th in team history.
Jones’ 47 receiving yards today upped his career receiving yards total to 1,062 and pass Mike Ditka for 42nd in club record books.
Brian Moorman netted 52.3 yards on his three punts today. His 52.3 net was second in his career. His career-high was 53.0 at Kansas City (12/13/09).
Jermey Parnell made his first career start today. He started at left tackle in place of Tyron Smith (ankle).
Charlie Peprah intercepted his first pass as a Dallas Cowboy in the fourth quarter of today’s game. It was the eighth pick of his career.
Tony Romo finished today’s game completing 37-of-62 passes for 441 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Romo’s 62 attempts tied his club record while his 37 completions were a career-best and second in franchise history. His 441 yards were a career-high and good for third in franchise history.
|62||Tony Romo||vs. N.Y. Giants (10/28/12)|
|62||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
|57||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/26/98)|
|41||Tony Romo||at N.Y. Giants (12/6/09)|
|37||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
|36||Tony Romo||vs. N.Y. Giants (10/28/12)|
|Passing Yards||No.||Player||Opp (Date)|
|460||Don Meredith||at San Francisco (11/10/69)|
|455||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/26/98)|
|441||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
Romo’s 85-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant was the longest pass completion of his career. It also tied the ninth-longest completion in franchise history and was the longest since a 90-yard Troy Aikman-to-Jason Tucker scoring hookup against the N.Y.Giants (1/2/00).
Romo’s three scoring throws today gave him 92 touchdowns in home games to pass Danny White (91) for the most home touchdowns in franchise history. Romo accomplished the feat in his 47th home appearance while White did it in 84.
Romo’s three touchdown passes today gave him 52 career multiple-touchdown games to improve his club-high and allow him to tie for fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Cowboys Career Multi-TD Games
NFL Multi-TD Games (since 2006)
Romo’s three touchdown tosses today gave him 165 for his career and tied him with Troy Aikman for the all-time Dallas Cowboys club record.
Romo now has 27 career games with three-or-more touchdowns, upping his club record.
Romo now has 26 career three-touchdown games – the most in Cowboys history, fourth among all-time undrafted quarterbacks and the fourth-most in the NFL since 2006:
Cowboys Career Three-TD Games
All-Time Three-TD Games (Undrafted Free-Agents)
NFL Three-TD Games (since 2006)
Romo’s 441 passing yards today was his fifth 300-yard game of the season and the 37th of his career. Dallas now holds a 23-14 (.622) record when Romo tops 300 yards.
Romo’s 441 yards was his second 400-yard game of the season and the third of his career. Romo’s three career 400-yard games sets a club record while his two this season also establish a single-season club record.
Romo threw for 441 yards today to give him 3,357 for the season. Romo now has five 3,000-yard seasons to tie Troy Aikman for the most in team history. Danny White is third with four.
Thanksgiving Day Single-Game Highs
|62||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
|57||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/26/98)|
|44||Drew Bledsoe||vs. Denver (11/24/05)|
|37||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
|34||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/26/98)|
|30||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/23/00)|
|30||Jon Kitna||vs. New Orleans (11/25/10)|
|Passing Yards||No.||Player||Opp (Date)|
|455||Troy Aikman||vs. Minnesota (11/26/98)|
|441||Tony Romo||vs. Washington (11/22/12)|
|356||Troy Aikman||vs. Tennessee (11/27/97)|
Romo’s 62 pass attempts today upped his Thanksgiving Day pass attempts total to 221 and pass Danny White (187) for second in team history. Troy Aikman has the high with 341.
In completing 37 passes today, Romo has completed 142 Thanksgiving Day passes to pass Danny White (112) for second in team history. Troy Aikman has the high with 211.
With 441 passing yards today, Romo has thrown for 1,808 Thanksgiving Day yards. He passed Danny White (1,545) for second in team history behind Troy Aikman’s 2,280.
Romo’s three touchdown tosses today gave him 17 for Thanksgiving. He broke a tie with Danny White for the most touchdown throws on Thanksgiving Day in Cowboys record books.
Anthony Spencer had 2.0 sacks today, his sixth career multiple sack game and second of the season.
Spencer’s 2.0 sacks today gave him three straight games with at least a half sack – the third time in his career he has had that streak. His first three-game streak came in 2009 (Weeks 15-17) and the second in 2011 (Weeks 1-3).
In finishing today’s game with 74 receiving yards, Jason Witten now has 8,619 for his career to pass Paul Warfield 8,565 and Laveranues Coles (8,609) for 64th all-time in NFL history.
Witten led the team with nine catches today to give him 82 for the season, giving him his sixth season with at least 80receptions. Witten’s six 80-catch seasons ties Tony Gonzalez for the most all-time among league tight ends. Witten’s six also tie Gonzalez and six others for the sixth-most 80-catch seasons among all pass catchers in NFL history.Jerry Rice has the NFL record with 12.
THROWBACK 1934: Detroit Lions begin an NFL tradition–hosting annual Thanksgiving Day game (Special Feature)
Thanksgiving Day football, once a tradition among the high schools and colleges of America, has more or less faded into oblivion in most sections of the country.
But it is still alive in the National Football League in two franchise cities, Detroit and Dallas, where Thanksgiving Day football has become a normal, expected way of life. Beginning in 1966, Dallas has missed playing on the holiday only in 1975 and 1977.
However, when it comes to Thanksgiving Day football, NFL style, most fans first think of the Lions and the tradition that was started in 1934. It was their first year in Detroit after a local radio executive, George A. Richards, had purchased the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and moved the team to Detroit. The Spartans were members of the NFL from 1930 to 1933.
With the Spartans, not only was Richards bringing a proven, quality team to Detroit, he was also bringing at least one super-star, Earl "Dutch" Clark, one of the most versatile backs ever to play the game. Clark had an outstanding supporting cast in the Detroit backfield with a big, talented line anchored by Frank Christiansen.
Even though he knew there was some risk in scheduling a game on Thanksgiving Day, Richards also recognized that his Lions were taking a back seat to the baseball Tigers on the sports pages. So as one way of attracting Motor City fans during the team’s first season, he opted for the Thanksgiving Day contest.
The matchup between the Lions and the World Champion Chicago Bears proved to be an all-time classic. The 1934 Lions had not allowed a touchdown until their eighth game and entered the game with the Bears with a 10-1 record. But with 11 straight wins, Chicago had an even better record. Still a win would put the Lions into a first-place tie with the Bears with only a game left, a repeat clash with the Bears in Chicago, just three days later on December 2.
The 26,000 tickets for the Turkey Day clash in the University of Detroit Stadium, were sold out two weeks in advance of the game. It was estimated that another 25,000 would have attended had there been seats available.
The Bears edged out the Lions 19-16 in the classic holiday struggle and then prevailed 10-7 three days later to clinch the NFL Western Division crown.
Not despondent over the last two losses, Richards reasoned that his team had done well in its first year in Detroit. His confidence was rewarded the next year when the Lions won the 1935 NFL Championship. The key game in the title drive came on Thanksgiving Day, when the Lions defeated the Bears 14-2 to clinch the West championship.
Thus the football-on-Thanksgiving tradition became firmly established in Detroit. With the exception of a six-season gap from 1939 to 1944, the Thanksgiving Day game has been played with no interruptions.
The Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day heritage gained national attention in another way, starting with the very first game in 1934. Knowing the publicity potential of radio, Richards along with NBC Radio, set up a 94-station network to broadcast the Lions-Bears showdown. The famous announcing team of Graham McNamee and Don Wilson described the action.
RELATED: NFL HISTORY – Thanksgiving Day game results 1920-2011
NFL games on Thanksgiving have included some great performances and memorable moments over the years. The legendary Harold "Red" Grange (left) made his pro debut for the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving 1925. In 2008, quarterback Tony Romo (right) led the Dallas Cowboys to a convincing 34-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks by throwing for 331 yards and 3 TDs.
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
(AAFC) – All-America Football Conference, 1946-49
(AFL) – American Football League, 1960-69
Source: National Football League | Pro Football Hall of Fame archives | NFL archives
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THE ELITE LIST: Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware making his mark on history
DEMARCUS WARE STACKS UP AGAINST THE ALL-TIME GREATEST PASS RUSHERS:
When DeMarcus Ware teamed up with Jason Hatcher to take down Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Ware became just the fifth player in NFL history to record seven consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks. So just how elite is the group Ware just joined? Well, the other four men on this list all currently sit in the top 10 of the NFL’s career sacks list and were all first-ballot Hall of Famers. Yeah, it’s that good. Here’s a look at the names Ware now sits aside in NFL history.
Reggie White – Phi/GB/Car – Double-digit sack seasons: 12 – Career sacks: 198
White entered the league as a 24-year-old and wasted absolutely no time in establishing himself as the greatest defensive end to play the game. He recorded 13 sacks as a rookie with the Eagles, then followed with 18, 21 and 18 in his next three seasons. In fact, White had at least 11 sacks in each of his first nine NFL seasons, all but one of which came in Philly. Most amazing of all, Smith is the only man on this list who played on the strong side, meaning opposing quarterbacks usually had a great view of the freight train coming at them.
Double-digit sack seasons: 9
Career sacks: 137.5
John Randle started his career out with eight-straight seasons of double-digits sacks, including an NFL-leading 15.5 in 1997.
He finally snapped his streak in 2000, when he recorded just eight sacks with the Vikings, before moving onto to Seattle for the final three years of his career.
Randle would have one more double-digit sack season with the Seahawks — at age 34 — before retiring in 2003.
He finished fifth on the all-time sacks list.
(though he’s since been passed by Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor).
Lawrence Taylor – NY Giants – Double-digit sack seasons: 7 – Career sacks: 132.5
LT didn’t have the staying power in the NFL that some others on this list enjoyed, but Taylor did manage to become just the second player in NFL history to record a 20-sack season (at least, since sacks became an official stat in 1982). Taylor dropped the QB 20.5 times in 1986, and he would go on to post seasons of 15.5 and 15 sacks before hitting a wall at age 32. Taylor’s prime was a bit short, but he was still the most fear pass rusher in football in the mid-80s.
Bruce Smith – Buffalo/Washington – Double-digit sack seasons: 13 – Career sacks: 200
Here’s an amazing stat from Smith’s legendary career: the NFL’s career sacks leader never once led the NFL in sacks in any given season. But Smith was among the most consistent pass rushers in NFL history, and the only thing that kept him from having 12 straight double-digit sack seasons was a problematic knee that kept him out much of the 1991 season. Smith entered the league the same year as Reggie White, and while White usually earned the nod as the more feared player, Smith lasted three more seasons than White, giving him just enough time to become the first player ever to 200 sacks.
Double-digit sack seasons: 7
Career sacks: 109.5
Of the men on this list, only Reggie White got to seven double-digit sack seasons faster. And while catching White or Smith on the career sacks list will be a tall task, Ware’s numbers match up with anyone’s at this stage in his career.
Through his first eight seasons in the NFL, White had 124 sacks; Smith had 92; Randle had 85.5; Taylor had 114.5 (counting years 2 through 9, because sacks weren’t recorded his rookie season). Ware? He’s currently at 109.5, and he’s on pace to finish the year with 117.5. That would put him behind only Reggie White on this elite list.
STEVE SABOL FINALE: NFL films to release Super Bowl collection
NFL Films has compiled a Super Bowl collection with 45 hours of content that features highlights from all 46 of the games.
The 23 DVDs and a 26-page retrospective book with a foreword by the late Steve Sabol will be released through Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment on Nov. 13. It also includes an NFL Network program counting down the top 10 Super Bowls, and a year-in-review film for each team that lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Since 1965, NFL Films has been a ground breaker in telling the stories of the league. It has won 107 Emmy awards.
Founded by Ed Sabol, his son Steve began as a cinematographer and eventually became president of the company. Steve Sabol died in September, a year after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Steve always loved the Super Bowl films," said Todd Schmidt, senior producer at NFL Films. "He either cut them himself or put one of the top producers on it. Steve knew that the Super Bowl transcended the average football fan and he wanted films that told the story in historical context with an emphasis on the personal triumph on the largest stage imaginable."
Sabol was one of a handful of people who attended every Super Bowl. So his perspective from the days of Paul Hornung and Joe Namath to the Steel Curtain, the West Coast offense and the Mannings at quarterback was particularly insightful.
"The first law in the entertainment business is that you have to know how to put on a big show," Sabol wrote in the foreword. "After 46 years, the Super Bowl isn’t merely big, it’s an enormous, excessive, preposterous extravaganza — which is what’s so great about it."
ON THIS DAY–TEN YEARS AGO: Emmitt Smith made NFL history
Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently broke Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, a record that had stood since 1960. It was considered the league’s most untouchable record.
Ten years ago today, Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s record for career rushing yards. He retired after the 2004 season with 18,355. No active running back is close since LaDainian Tomlinson retired after last season, with 13,684 yards. Rams running back Steven Jackson is the NFL’s leader among active players with 9,473 yards.
“Records ultimately always seem to get broken,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Some of those ones that are untouchable and last a long time at some point seem to be eclipsed, but because the way the league is, it doesn’t seem like we have these bell cow rushers who get the ball 25-30 times a game like they did years ago.
“Of all of Emmitt’s greatest traits, and he had thousands as a player –- as instinctive a player as I’ve been around, great balance, great power, explosiveness, feel, vision all that stuff -– I think at the end of the day, his most redeeming quality was his durability. Because he was a marked man ever since he was probably 13, 14 years, and everybody knew who Emmitt Smith was going into every game. Every defense wanted to stop him. And week in and week out, year after year after year, he showed up and was so productive. It’s hard to find that in this era of football. …I don’t think anybody might be able to eclipse what he accomplished.”
Smith’s marketing team released a statement from Smith about the 10-year anniversary of his record.
“It was certainly a milestone for me and was difficult to accomplish,” Smith said. “Football is the ultimate team sport; one that’s not really about breaking records. My accomplishments throughout my career were due not only to my abilities, but also certainly to the efforts and sacrifices of others. I can’t take all the credit. We did this as a team and that is something I’ll always cherish.”
VIDEO: Emmitt Smith’s historic run, career highlights, and Jerry Jones’ induction speech to the NFL Hall of Fame crowd in Canton, Ohio.
MILESTONE: The Boys Are Back blog reaches 100,000 hits!
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MILESTONES: During the Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks game
Miles Austin’s touchdown catch Sunday gave him 30 for his career to become the 11th Dallas Cowboy with 30 touchdown receptions and tied him with Doug Cosbie for 10th in franchise history.
With his touchdown pass Sunday, Tony Romo tied Roger Staubach for the third-most touchdowns in franchise history with 153.
Anthony Spencer finished Sunday’s game with a pair of sacks for his fifth career multiple-sack game.
DeMarcus Ware’s streak of consecutive road games with a sack came to an end Sunday, finishing with a league-record of 11 straight road games with a sack.
Jason Witten’s four-catch performance Sunday gave him 702 career receptions to become just the second Dallas pass catcher to reach 700 career catches – Michael Irvin (750) – and the third tight end in league history to hit the mark – Tony Gonzalez (1,149) and Shannon Sharpe (815).
Witten reached 700 catches in 145 games – the fastest of the previous tight ends – Gonzalez (154) and Sharpe (178).
Witten’s 58 yards Sunday gave him 7,977 for his career and allowed him to overtake Jackie Smith (7,918) for fourth on the NFL’s all-time tight ends receiving yards list. Witten is just four yards shy of third place, behind Ozzie Newsome (7,980).
Just three days after signing a three-year contract extension that will keep him under contract through 2016, Sean Lissemore had a career-high with 10 tackles.
Linebacker Bruce Carter also had a career-best with 10 tackles Sunday.
Greatest 25: Short-handed, Dorsett Goes 99 Yards To History
Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine decided to count down the best of the best, the top 25 plays in franchise history. Here is No. 4 and a snippet from the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine story:
With only 10 players on the field, Tony Dorsett raced into history.
When ranking the greatest plays in the history of America’s Team, this one is the most difficult. For in all its brilliance and majestic elegance, for the singular moment that it was – one that almost stopped time in the sense that everyone watching, a national audience, remembers exactly where they were some 29 years later –
In terms of spectacular, record-smashing, don’t-believe-we-just-saw-that moments, Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard touchdown against the Vikings on Jan. 3, 1983 was arguably the greatest individual play in franchise history. It’s an unbreakable record, one that has never even been matched, before or since. And it’s all the more impressive that the Cowboys had just 10 players on the field, fullback Ron Springs mistakenly on the sidelines. Heck, Dorsett didn’t even have a lead block on the play. Throw in that the game was on Monday Night Football and it’s one of those iconic moments in sports history.
The Cowboys were trailing, 24-13, in the fourth, about halfway between the goal line and the 1-yard line, a safety definitely possible. Quarterback Danny White took the snap under center and turned almost immediately, Dorsett taking the ball, sprinting through the gap between the offensive tackle and guard, and as quickly as the 5-yard line, there wasn’t a defender within eight feet. He then avoided the safety at the 15-yard line with a simple plant and change of direction to his right, announcer Frank Gifford telling his MNF audience at that point, “Watch out, he has great speed.”
And by the time those words had been spoken, Dorsett was racing across the 30, as in the exact painted numbers “3” and “0” on the right sidelines. Teammate Drew Pearson was running in front of him, trying to throw a block on one of the remaining two defenders, one of which reached out with an attempted wrap around the 18-yard line, but Dorsett ran through the arm effort with ease, slapping the would-be tackler away with his left hand, almost like a nuisance, a swarming bug in his path to immorality.
He then ran into the end zone and spiked the ball before turning to embrace Pearson’s hug. The score, the outcome, none of this has really mattered since that night. This shall forever be the Tony Dorsett Game.
Courtesy: Jeff Sullivan | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine
RICK GOSSELIN: LaDanian Tomlinson’s ranking among his Top 10 All-Time Running Backs
LaDainian Tomlinson has retired, so let the debate begin. Where does the NFL’s fifth all-time rusher rank in the pantheon of great running backs?
I’ve been watching the NFL for better than a half century and covering it professionally for the last 38 years. In my educated opinion, Tomlinson does not belong in the Top 5 but I do have a place for him in my Top 10. Barely.
I don’t judge runners based on statistics or rings. Only three of my Top 10 backs ever played on championship teams and four of them don’t even rank statistically in the Top 10 in rushing.
But they all passed my eye test. I know greatness when I see it. I saw it in these 10.
With apologies to some backs I’ve seen (Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Tony Dorsett) and some that I haven’t (Steve Van Buren, Ollie Matson and Marion Motley), here’s my pantheon of the Top 10 all-time running backs:
1. Barry Sanders. The most dazzling runner the NFL has ever seen — averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 100 yards per game — then retired in his prime. His moves were an optical illusion, tricking many a defender’s eyes.
2. Jim Brown. The best fullback in NFL history, also retired in his prime. Won eight NFL rushing titles in his nine seasons.
3. Gale Sayers. Knee injuries prevented Sayers from ever reaching his prime, cutting short his career after seven seasons. A big back with speed, second only to Sanders in dazzle.
4. O.J. Simpson. Third to Sanders and Sayers in dazzle. First back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and did it when the NFL was playing only 14 games.
5. Walter Payton. The most complete back in NFL history – running, catching, blocking.
6. Emmitt Smith. Played more games, gained more yards and scored more touchdowns than any back in NFL history.
7. Curtis Martin. Put him on the 1990 Cowboys and he’d have become Emmitt Smith.
8. Earl Campbell. Second-best power back in NFL history after Brown.
9. Thurman Thomas. Backbone of a team that went to four consecutive Super Bowls, the Bills were an incredible 48-4 when Thomas rushed for 100 yards in a game.
10. LaDainian Tomlinson. Second to Payton in his completeness, could run, catch or throw for scores.
What’s YOUR Top-10? Leave a comment. How can any list not have Emmitt at #1?
Courtesy: RICK GOSSELIN | SportsDayDFW
RELATED: Emmitt Smith reacts to the retirement of Ladainian Tomlinson
Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith was not just an accidental tourist in the career of former TCU great LaDanian Tomlinson, who is retiring today as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Smith, the league’s all-time leading rusher, was Tomlinson’s inspiration as a little boy growing up a Cowboys fan in Waco, and then moreso when he went on to have an outstanding college career at TCU.
There is no question Tomlinson, who finished his 11-year career with the Chargers and the Jets as the league’s fifth all-time leading rusher, had his sights set on Smith at the top spot.
He didn’t quite make it but what he accomplished was enough to make him a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and it earned him the respect and admiration of his idol.
"I have known LaDanian since he was 13 years old," Smith said. "When you know someone when they are very young, and you watch that person grow into being a man and one of the very best to ever play the game, it is inspirational for me personally. He was a pleasure to watch play football. He did it with pride and passion and he was a true professional from his very first day in the NFL. I am extremely honored to know that I have had a positive influence on him. What he accomplished in his career gives me great pride."
And although Tomlinson didn’t get the rushing title or a coveted Super Bowl, Smith said LT leaves the game with dignity and a respect that few enjoy.
"LaDanian has had a tremendous impact on the league, not only as a player but also as a person with great character, and it shows by the respect his peers have for him and how well-known he is to the public," Smith said. "He accomplished many great things as a player, but I don’t know of any player recently who has left the game with as much admiration and respect from his peers as LT enjoys. And that might be an athlete’s most cherished accomplishment."
Clarence Hill Jr. | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Running Back DeMarco Murray – A Dallas Cowboy rising star
DeMarco Murray Position: Running back Size: 6-0, 227 Age: 24 College:Oklahoma
Drafted: Third round, 71st overall in 2011
Experience: Entering second season
Contract status: Signed a four-year, $2.97 million contract coming out of college. His base salary is a little over $510,000 this season with a cap hit of 675,781.
2011 review: A hamstring injury delayed Murray’s impact. He missed most of training camp and when the season started found himself behind Felix Jones. Murray had more than six carries only once in his first five games and managed a total of just 73 yards.
All of that changed on October 23 against St. Louis. An injury to Jones opened the door for Murray, and the rookie burst on the scene with the best rushing day in franchise history. Murray ran for 253 yards, the ninth best game in NFL history and the second best by a rookie, and scored on a 91-yard touchdown run.
He was no one-hit wonder. Murray followed that up by rushing for more than 130 yards in two of his next three games. Before an ankle injury ended his season on Dec. 11, Murray had rushed for 897 yards. As a loyal The Boys Are Back blog reader, you remember that it ranks as the fourth best rookie total in Dallas Cowboys history.
There’s more. Murray averaged 5.5 yards a carry. He rushed for 70 or more yards in the first half of four games, something that has been done only two other times in the NFL since 2000. He caught 26 passes for another 183 yards.
A slow start and the inability to finish the season due to injury were the only negatives.
2011 grade: B plus (I’d have to go with an A minus. What’s your grade? Leave a comment)
Outlook in 2012: The Cowboys have searched for a lead back since Emmitt Smith’s departure in 2002.
Murray could be it. He consistently showed the ability to turn what appeared to be no gain or two or three yard pickups into six or seven yards. He’s quick, but runs with patience and power. He carried the ball at least 20 times in six of seven games during his most productive stretch. He is someone the Cowboys can, and will, hand the ball to time and time again.
The only question at this stage of his career is durability.
Courtesy: David Moore | Dallas Morning News
Jerry Jones describes how he nearly purchased the San Diego Chargers
If his father wouldn’t have talked him out of it, Jerry Jones would have likely purchased the San Diego Chargers when he was only 25.
The Cowboys owner and general manager recently wrote a 1,300-word story about his life as a 25-year-old for an upcoming issue of ForbesLife Magazine.
In his entry, Jones describes how his passion to own an AFL team was so great that he would frequently fly to Houston, sit around the lobby of a hotel where the AFL owners met and when they exited, Jones would introduce himself.
During those meetings, Jones met Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, who was aware that Barron Hilton was looking to sell the San Diego Chargers.
Hilton wanted $5.8 million for the franchise.
Jones was convinced that he wanted to make the purchase but his father talked him out of it.
"He asked me what in the world I was doing," Jones recalled. "He told me I was supposed to be working in the insurance business and that I still had the pizza-parlor deal to work out. He told me to let football go, that by my own admission the Chargers wouldn’t work financially. He told me, ‘I hate to see you start life behind the eight ball.’"
Although Jones had the financing in place, he decided to take his father’s advice.
"Now, of course, just a few months later, the AFL and the NFL merged. The value of the Chargers skyrocketed," Jones wrote. "What I could have had for $5.8 million was then sold for over $11 million.
"My dad told that story for the rest of his life, how he had talked me out of earning millions at age 25."
Jones gave the magazine a few photos to run with the story. Here is one with his son Stephen and wife Gene in the Jones’ Fayetteville, Arkansas, apartment:
Jay Novacek on Jason Witten: ‘He’s the best tight end that has ever played’
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek (84) hurdles Kansas City Chiefs defender Mark Collins (25) in route to a third quarter TD in the Cowboys victory of the Chiefs on Thanksgiving Day 1995. – Photo credit: JOHN F. RHODES
Jay Novacek may very well be one of the best tight ends to play in the NFL in the last 20 years, but the three-time Super Bowl champion will quickly tell you he’s not even the best Dallas Cowboy to ever play the position.
According to Novacek, that title belongs to Jason Witten. In fact, Novacek went as far as to say Witten is the best tight end in NFL history.
“He’s probably the greatest. He’s the best tight end that has ever played. He can just do so much, and he doesn’t make very many mistakes,” Novacek said Monday morning at the Cowboys Scramble presented by The Nova Center at Trophy Club Country Club. “He’s such a good guy and such a good individual. You wrap that up with a very talented and athletic body and you put it all together and that’s what you create, one of the best tight ends to ever play the game.”
In 11 seasons, Novacek recorded 422 receptions for 4,630 yards and 30 touchdowns. It just eight seasons, Witten has already surpassed Novacek’s totals in every category with 696 receptions for 7,909 yards and 41 touchdowns.
THE CAREER OF JASON WITTEN: Jason Witten (right) fights off New York Giants linebacker Michael Boley during the Cowboys-Giants game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on January 1, 2012.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: 9-7 will win NFC East for first time ever
Perhaps this speaks to just how fortunate Cowboys and Giants fans should feel that they have a chance to extend their season on Sunday, or perhaps it’s a testament to the fact neither team is really deserving of the title NFC East champs.
For the first time since being formed as the NFL Capitol Division in 1967, a record as poor as 9-7 will win the title. Renamed the NFC East in the merger of 1970, a record of 10-6 has won the division seven times.
Since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, a record of 9-7 or worse has been good enough to win any division only 20 times. It has happened more frequently in recent years, since the parity of the salary cap era has made for fewer outliers in the win-loss chase.
Last year, Seattle became the first team to ever win its division with a losing record, finishing 7-9 and beating St. Louis in Week 17 to get into the playoffs. The Seahawks then upset New Orleans in a home playoff game.
In the last decade, seven teams have won their respective divisions at 9-7 or worse.
Arizona, which won the NFC West at 9-7 in 2008, was the only one of those teams to advance to the Super Bowl.