Super Bowl X Memories: Cowboys Regain The Lead With Long Drive
The first quarter in Super Bowl X was well under way, and the intensity was picking up. After watching the underdog Cowboys capitalize on a special teams miscue for a touchdown, the Pittsburgh offense began humming like a well-oiled machine, marching 68 yards in 8 plays for a game-tying touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to Randy Grossman.
Now, with the ball resting on the 35-yard line, Roger Staubach and the Dallas offense came out for another crack at a Steel Curtain defense which had allowed less than 12 points-per-game during the 1975 regular season. There was a strong notion going into the game that, were the Cowboys to pull off the upset over the Steelers, it would have to be on the strength of Staubach and the Shotgun. It was a conclusion that had as much to do with the respect for Tom Landry’s mysterious formation as it did the smothering effect of Pittsburgh’s defense on opposing rushing attacks.
It had been Tom Landry’s bag of tricks – multiple pre-snap shifts which confused the Steelers secondary – that resulted in Dallas’ first score, a 29-yard touchdown pass from Staubach to Drew Pearson. This time, however, brains would be replaced with brawn.
The Cowboys came out running, Staubach handing off to team rushing leader Robert Newhouse, who went left for a gain of 7 yards. Doug Dennison provided Dallas with its initial first-down of the game on the next play when he followed the blocks of Blaine Nye and Rayfield Wright for a pickup of five.
Dallas continued to hammer away at the belly of the Pittsburgh defense with handoffs to Newhouse and Dennison. But when Newhouse was stopped inches short on a third-down run by Ernie Holmes at the 17-yard line, Landry was faced with his first big decision of the game. Should he take the points, or leave his offense on the field?Afforded a clean pocket on first-down, Staubach was able to complete a 9-yard pass to Jean Fugett, who was upended at the Pittsburgh 44-yard line by Glen Edwards. Newhouse, quiet through two playoff games in Minnesota and Los Angeles, broke through the Pittsburgh front on a second-down draw play for 16 yards, drawing a round of applause from a packed house at the Orange Bowl.
As had been his nature for much of the 1975 season when the Cowboys shocked the football world by winning ten games, Landry remained the aggressor, and opted to have his offense try for a first-down. The play-call was a plunge to Dennison, who lowered his head and rammed into the pile for a one-yard gain.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Pittsburgh’s middle linebacker Jack Lambert decided he had seen enough, putting a stop to Dallas’ inside running game on back-to-back snaps. After smacking Preston Pearson in the hole on first-down, and tossing Newhouse to the turf on second-down, Lambert had the Cowboys staring at a third-and-9 as the first quarter reached its conclusion.
That hole deepened when left tackle Ralph Neely was flagged for jumping off-sides, moving the Cowboys back five yards. On third-and-14, Staubach’s pass to Fugett was nearly intercepted by Edwards, who had cut under the route on the left side.
Despite the setbacks, Toni Fritsch was able to cash in on the 11-play Dallas march by booting a 36-yard field goal through the uprights on the next play, giving the Cowboys a lead they would own into the fourth quarter.
You can order your copy of Ryan Bush’s new book “The Dirty Dozen” and learn more about the 1975 Dallas Cowboys and their unlikely march to Super Bowl X today by using the following link: