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Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33 5

Like any great running back pushing for more we are inching our way to the goal line of the 2015 NFL season. A mere 33 sets of the sun are what separate us from our weekly rituals of wearing our favorite jersey, grilling some barbecue, and gluing ourselves to the best seat in the house.

In just 48 hours we will finally get to see the Dallas Cowboys in their uniforms and playing a game of football. How awesome is that?

Unfortunately those games count about as much as rock, paper, scissors… but hey, it’s football. The real deal goes down in 33 days and to help maintain our sanity until then we are going to continue our Countdown To Kickoff with the Greatest 33 in Dallas Cowboys History.

The Following Players Have All Worn 33 For The Dallas Cowboys:

  • Gene Babb, FB/LB
  • Jason Bell, S
  • Eric Brown, CB
  • Tony Dorsett^, RB
  • Chris Greenwood, CB
  • Wendell Hayes, RB
  • Nate Jones, CB
  • Cyril Pinder, RB
  • Chris Randle, CB
  • Timmy Smith, RB
  • Duane Thomas, RB
  • Russell Wayt, LB

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

In 1975 the Dallas Cowboys had the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. With a man named Walter Payton on the board they decided to pull a Pete Carroll and pass on running the ball. Who’d they pick? Just a guy named Randy White. Worked out pretty well, I’d say.

In 1977 the Dallas Cowboys had the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yes, again. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took USC’s Ricky Bell the war room just about jumped through the roof.

The University of Pittsburgh’s all-time leading rusher was there. The very Pitt Panther that helped them win the 1976 National Championship. This was such an illustrious collegiate player that he was deemed the best in the nation, winning the 1976 Heisman Trophy. Who was he?

Tony Dorsett

The 1977 Dallas Cowboys were thought to be a running back away from being Super Bowl contenders. They had been unable to run the ball effectively in Super Bowl X, a big factor in why they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33 1

Names like Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, and Billy Jo Dupree graced the offensive side of the depth chart. Doomsday took care of the defense.

The Dallas Cowboys had a fine running back combo of Robert Newhouse and Preston Pearson, but they were missing that one ingredient. They needed a playmaker. They needed somebody who could be the difference and pose as a viable threat in the run game. With Roger Staubach airing the ball out, teams already feared that aspect. The Cowboys needed teams to fear their entire offense.

Run To Daylight

Upon arrival, Dorsett and the man in charge, Head Coach Tom Landry, had differing opinions on how Tony should run the ball. You see, Tom Landry was one of the most methodical men to ever live. He viewed football almost as a play with each motion of the game happening almost in a scripted and predetermined fashion.

One day in practice while preparing for the Cardinals Dorsett took a sweep right. The offensive and defensive players clashed leaving little room to run. The shifty Tony Dorsett cut his run back all the way to the left and picked up a huge gain.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33 2

It will NEVER, in 100 years, happen like that!” screamed Landry. Dorsett was supposed to hit the hole Landry had drawn up, not run to what he saw.

That week against the Cardinals… it happened like that. Dorsett broke his cut back and danced his way down the Texas Stadium turf – 77 yards for a touchdown.

After that Tom Landry changed the way that he put together game plans. He instructed his linemen, the famed “Zero Club”, to block and hold their man… Tony would take care of the rest.

World Champs – And Everything Else

The Cowboys rode their rookie running back, and third down specialist Preston Pearson, to a 12-2 record. They cruised through the playoffs – vanquishing the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys were World Champions.

Just one year prior to winning Super Bowl XII in the Superdome down in New Orleans, well technically 379 days earlier to be precise, Tony Dorsett had won the National Championship as a Pitt Panther in that same building.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33

In back-to-back football seasons Tony Dorsett accomplished what no one else in the history of football ever had. He had won the Heisman Trophy, the collegiate National Championship, and the Super Bowl.

In chronological order, this is Tony Dorsett’s senior year at Pitt through winning Super Bowl XII with the Dallas Cowboys:

  • 1976 Rushing Yards – 2,150
  • 1976 Rushing Touchdowns – 22
  • 1976 Receiving Yards – 67
  • 1976 Receiving Touchdowns – 8
  • 1976 Heisman Trophy Winner
  • 1976 National Champion
  • 1977 Second Overall Pick
  • 1977 Rushing Yards – 1,007
  • 1977 Rushing Touchdowns – 12
  • 1977 Receiving Yards – 273
  • 1977 Receiving Touchdowns – 1
  • 1977 NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year
  • 1977 Super Bowl Champion

Cowboy Career

It’s pretty hard to follow up a run, no pun intended, like Tony Dorsett had from 1976 to the wee beginnings of 1978, but he managed to put together quite the career. He began his career with 5 straight 1,000-yard seasons, including an astonishing 1,646 in 1981. Tony Dorsett was not just immediately an impact player, but he was immediately a significant contributor and a star. It’s rare that a running back has entered the NFL and immediately shown that level of dominance.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33 3

His streak was broken in 1982, but to be fair this was a strike-shortened season where Tony only played 9 games, still racking up 745 yards; however, in the final regular season game Tony etched his name in the record books in one of the most unique ways in NFL History.

In the season finale, and first primetime game ever played in Minnesota’s Metrodome, Tony Dorsett was his usual star-studded self. With the Cowboys backed up as far as possible, literally the ball sat on the goal line, Tony took off.

Tony broke through the line of scrimmage and tight-roped his way down the sidelines – 99 yards for a touchdown. It is the longest play from scrimmage in NFL History and can never be beaten, only matched.

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This play cemented Dorsett’s legacy as one of the great running backs of his era, especially considering that fullback Ron Springs was not on the field for the play. That’s right, Tony Dorsett accomplished the longest possible play on a football field with only 10 men on the field, the absentee being his primary blocker.

#33: Tony Dorsett

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33 4

Tony Dorsett racked up 12,036 yards and 99 touchdowns in his time with the Cowboys (he played one final year with Denver before retiring). He retired as the Dallas Cowboys all-time leading rusher and as one of the franchise’s most decorated players.

He was a first-ballot member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1994, which felt only fitting to the career that he had. Everything else happened on the first try, why not the Hall of Fame? Tony Dorsett accomplished arguably everything that one aspires to in the game of football.

Tony Dorsett's career accomplishments include:

  • Heisman Trophy Winner
  • National Champion
  • First Round Draft Pick (2nd overall)
  • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Super Bowl Champion
  • Unbreakable NFL Record
  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Member
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Member (Class of 1994)

Tony Dorsett did it all. He is one of the most prolific players in NFL History and one of the finer men to ever put on the Dallas Cowboys uniform. His mantle is probably pretty cluttered, but allow me to give Tony Dorsett one final award… The Greatest 33 in Dallas Cowboys History.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 32 in Dallas Cowboys History is!


Want to share your opinions on who should be featured on our Countdown To Kickoff? Email me at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys CTK: Tony Dorsett Dominates #33" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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8 Comments
  • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog Fred Goodwin

    The Sphinx doesn’t even warrant an honorable mention??

    • https://insidethestar.com/ btreece

      Ha! Not sure I can honestly say he deserved one. About the only thing he accomplished (as a Cowboy) after the Rookie honors is the impressive list of teams he played for. RJ got this one right.

      But I’ve met some folks who met Tony Dorsett off the field in everyday life and say he was a total jackass. Doubt Thomas has the same said of him.

    • rjochoa

      Haha, well he was certainly great. He was the next Jim Brown if he could have just held it together.

      Unfortunately his body of work was just too small to warrant serious consideration. Either that or I’m still bitter about his fumble/the bad call on it in Super Bowl V!

  • Jason Mcculloh

    Dorsett’s most productive season was in 1981, when he recorded 1,646 yards breaking the Cowboys franchise record. Dorsett led the Broncos with 703 yards and five touchdowns that year, but injuries prior to the 1989 season led to his retirement.

  • Rebecca

    That black and white photo is fantastic. Where did you get it?

  • Rebecca

    (The one in the locker room.)

Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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Star Blog

How Cowboys Could Regain a 2019 1st-Round Draft Pick

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - 5 Cowboys Players That Could Be Traded
Matthew Edmonds-USA Today

The Dallas Cowboys are currently without a 2019 first-round draft pick after acquiring Wide Receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, but what if I were to tell you there was a way to regain another first-rounder? Well, with a little outside the box thinking I think there could be a way to accomplish just that.

It's completely hypothetical, but I think the Dallas Cowboys could possibly regain a first-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with little finagling and good luck. Everything would have to fall into place perfectly, but I think it's definitely doable.

Remember, this is completely hypothetical with a lot of "what if's" involved, but the Cowboys could regain what they lost acquiring Amari Cooper and come out of it no worse for wear. I think there are a lot of different scenarios that could accomplish this feat, but only one of them that doesn't hurt the team in my opinion and it centers around Right Tackle La'el Collins.

I know you're probably going to think I'm crazy, but I think the Dallas Cowboys could possibly land a 2019 first-round draft pick if they decided to trade away RT La'el Collins. Trust me, I wouldn't suggest this if I didn't think there was somebody capable of stepping in and playing just as well.

Enter Connor Williams.

Connor Williams

Dallas Cowboys LG Connor Williams

I always believed Connor Williams' best position in the NFL was at right tackle, not on the inside at guard. And yes, I was one of those advocating for Williams to play RT and Collins to move back to LG before the 2018 season started. I thought that gave the Cowboys their best starting five.

Williams has been serviceable at LG this season, but has been overpowered at times. His athletic ability would've been much better served on the outside at tackle, which is where I would play him next season, making La'el Collins expendable.

Again, I know what you're thinking. If you move Williams to RT and trade Collins, there is now a void at LG. Well, that's where Xavier Su'a-Filo comes into play. He is coming off a fantastic performance against the Philadelphia Eagles and a lot of Cowboys Nation is already advocating that he remains the starter over Connor Williams.

If Su'a-Filo can maintain the same level play he did against the Eagles, he probably remains the starter for the rest of the 2018 season. If this is indeed what happens, he could end up being the starter once again next season, making my plan of trading La'el Collins more feasible.

Were you able to follow all of that?

Keep Xavier Su'a-Filo at left guard

Move Connor Williams to right tackle

Trade La'el Collins

Like I said, this is all hypothetical, but something that could feasibly happen. Now we just have to wait and see if Xavier Su'a-Filo can continue to play like he did last week, because without him sticking at left guard none of this is possible.

I told you it was some out-of-the-box thinking.

Would you go along with the scenario to regain a 2019 first-round draft pick?



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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su’a-Filo at Left Guard?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su'a-Filo at Left Guard? 1

Don't look now, but we may have another Ron Leary/La'el Collins situation unfolding before our eyes with Xavier Su'a-Filo and Connor Williams. Who ends up starting at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the 2018 season is up in the air right now, but might not be for long.

Remember a few years ago when La'el Collins started the season at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys, but then had to miss time due to a toe injury. Ronald Leary took over during his absence and never looked back. It even earned him a big payday with the Denver Broncos.

Déjà vu anyone?

Yes, I'm talking about the hot topic of the hour as to whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should stick with Xavier Su'a-Filo at left guard or reinsert Connor Williams once he is healthy enough to return to the lineup? As with any debate, there are two sides of the coin.

Honestly, I can make an argument for both sides here. These are two different players and both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Su'a-Filo isn't as agile as Williams and relies more on his strength and power, whereas Williams is almost the complete opposite. Depending what the Cowboys coaching staff wants out of their LG, either player makes sense.

Xavier Su'a-Filo

Dallas Cowboys LG Xavier Su'a-Filo

I could go into a long debate as to who I believe the Cowboys should start at LG moving forward, but I think that would be a waste of our time. I think this is a situation that will work itself out one way or another this week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Nothing is set in stone right now, but I have a hard time seeing Connor Williams being ready to play this week after having knee surgery. It would be unwise to rush him back before he's 100% healthy, especially after the way Su'a-Filo preformed against the Eagles. And if Su'a-Filo plays well once again, Williams may not get his starting job back.

See, I told you it was looking like a Ronald Leary/La'el Collins situation all over again.

This is a situation that many of us will be following closely this week and it may not only have ramifications on the rest of the 2018 season, but it could carry over into next year. Maybe Xavier Su'a-Filo remains at LG next year and Connor Williams moves to his more natural position (right tackle), making La'el Collins expendable. But that's a debate for another time.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should stick with Xavier Su'a-Filo at LG?



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