In Battle Of Former Colleagues, Reeves’ Broncos Rough-Up Pelluer, Trample Landry’s Cowboys 29-14
In a game pitting the legendary Tom Landry against Dan Reeves, his one-time player and assistant coach, it was the pupil who won the day, as the up-and-coming Denver Broncos beat the Dallas Cowboys in sound fashion by a 29-14 score at Mile High Stadium.
A “new-look” Cowboys offense orchestrated by Landry and Paul Hackett had been the primary reason for Dallas’ surprising 3-1 start to the 1986 season. But a turnover-riddled performance by Steve Pelluer served as a harsh lesson in how far the Cowboys had yet to come to be a serious contender. While trying to match wits with John Elway, the Dallas quarterback tossed three costly interceptions. He was also sacked five times, courtesy of a tenacious Denver defense.
Broncos running back Gerald Willhite broke open a scoreless game in the second quarter when he hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Elway. Rulon Jones then sacked Pelluer in the end zone for a safety, giving Denver a 9-0 lead and another opportunity to gash a tired Dallas defense. They would not disappoint. The Broncos wasted no time in marching to the 1-yard line, from where Willhite concluded the drive with an emphatic scoring plunge. Willhite’s third touchdown of the game, a 15-yard reception from Elway, gave Denver a 22-0 lead, and concluded the scoring for the first half.
Herschel Walker, filling in for the injured Tony Dorsett, had a rough afternoon, gaining only 33 yards on 15 carries. Yet it was his 3-yard scoring burst in the third quarter that had the Cowboys celebrating and pondering the possibilities of a comeback. By the time the quarter ran out, the score remained 22-7, certainly a manageable deficit for the Cowboys.
But that’s when Denver hit the kill switch, going on a long scoring drive capped by Elway’s 12-yard toss to Gene Lang. Though Timmy Newsome managed to answer the score with one of his own shortly after, it was too little, too late for the Cowboys.