The 1971 Dallas Cowboys season began rather auspiciously. They opened their new home, Texas Stadium in 1971. All seemed to be in line except for one little bump. The Cowboys rookie of the year running back Duane Thomas wanted a new contract. The Cowboys were not a franchise that simply renegotiated a players contract because of that players demands. Instead, the Cowboys traded Duane Thomas to the New England Patriots. Thomas enraged the Patriots head coach and the NFL granted the Patriots request to void the trade. So, a few days after being traded away, Duane Thomas was back with the Cowboys. In protest, Thomas simply refused to speak to the Cowboys team (players and coaches) and to the media for the entire season.
The Cowboys found only a few contributors from the 1971 NFL Draft. Their first pick, Tody Smith, played only a few years with the Cowboys before being traded to Houston. Bill Gregory played 7 years with the Cowboys but was a backup the entire time. Ron Jessie, drafted in the 8 round played 11 seasons in the NFL but none with the Cowboys as he was cut during training camp.
1971 Dallas Cowboys draft picks
|3||Sam Scarber||RB||New Mexico|
|4||Joe Carter||TE||Grambling St.|
|6||Steve Maier||WR||Northern Arizona|
|10||Rodney Wallace||T||New Mexico|
|13||James Ford||RB||Texas Southern|
|14||Tyrone Covey||DB||Utah St.|
|16||John Brennan||T||Boston Col.|
The Cowboys were easy favorite to win the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl when the season began and that seemed more likely after winning their first two games overwhelmingly. Then things began to unravel. Landry was struggling with the decision of who to start at QB. Veteran Craig Morton or Roger Staubach. Both played well during training camp but neither distanced himself from the other. Landry originally started swapping the QBs for every other game. After loosing 2 of their next 4 games, Landry decided he would swap Staubach and Morton after ever play. That decision was disastrous as the Cowboys lost to the Bears 19-23 dropping the Cowboys mid season record to 4-3.
Landry eventually came to his senses and named Roger Staubach as his starting QB and the Cowboys responded by winning their final 7 regular season games to finish the season at 11-3 and win the Eastern Division for the 5th season in a row. The Cowboys offense led the league with 406 points and was led by Roger Staubach who was named to the Pro Bowl and led the league in passer ratings. Disgruntled RB Duane Thomas ran for 793 yards and 11 TDs. Garrison and Hill both added over 400 yards each. Bob Hayes was their leading receiver with 840 yards and 8 TDs. Lance Alworth added 487 yards and 2 TDs. The Cowboys Defense allowed only 222 points and was led by All Pro DT Bob Lilly and Pro Bowlers Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro and Cornell Green.
The Cowboys faced the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st round of the playoffs in Minnesota. The Cowboys got 2 third quarter TDs by Duane Thomas and Bob Hayes to pull away from the Vikings and win 20-12. The Cowboys then faced the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. The Cowboys would play the 49ers at their new home, Texas Stadium. This was the first playoff game ever at Texas Stadium and the Cowboys awarded the home fans with a 14-3 win and a trip to Super Bowl VI.
The Cowboys faced off against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in Louisiana. The Cowboys shrugged off all the past disappointments with one of the most dominating performances in Super Bowl History. The Cowboys shut down the Dolphins vaunted offensive attack. The Dolphins could only muster 3 points as the Cowboys rolled for over 250 yards rushing and a 24-3 win. The Cowboys had finally lived up to their high expectations and won their first Super Bowl and World Championship!
1971 Dallas Cowboys schedule and results
|1||September 19||W||Buffalo Bills||49||37|
|2||September 26||W||Philadelphia Eagles||42||7|
|3||October 3||L||Washington Redskins||16||20|
|4||October 11||W||New York Giants||20||13|
|5||October 17||L||New Orleans Saints||14||24|
|6||October 24||W||New England Patriots||44||21|
|7||October 31||L||Chicago Bears||19||23|
|8||November 7||W||St. Louis Cardinals||16||13|
|9||November 14||W||Philadelphia Eagles||20||7|
|10||November 21||W||Washington Redskins||13||0|
|11||November 25||W||Los Angeles Rams||28||21|
|12||December 4||W||New York Jets||52||10|
|13||December 12||W||New York Giants||42||14|
|14||December 18||W||St. Louis Cardinals||31||12|
|Division||December 25||W||Minnesota Vikings||20||12|
|ConfChamp||January 2||W||San Francisco 49ers||14||3|
|SuperBowl||January 16||W||Miami Dolphins||24||3|
1971 Dallas Cowboys roster