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Remembering The Cowboys’ Epic First Playoff Victory

During a week in which the are coming off the celebration of a much-needed win over a team from Ohio – Sunday's 30-7 drubbing of the – the team is also closing in upon another memorable triumph over an Ohio-based squad.

On Dec. 24, 1967, the Cowboys did something that was a first in franchise but would soon become an annual ritual for the team – they won an NFL playoff game. And in doing so, the Cowboys would establish a club record that remains on the books today.

Dallas would play host to the to decide the NFL's Eastern Conference champions. At the Sports betting sites, the Cowboys were established as six-point favorites over the Browns.

Remembering The Cowboys' Epic First Playoff Victory
“Steelers-Cowboys Mash-Up” by Brook-Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Second Time's The Charm

Dallas made the for the first time by winning the Eastern Conference title in 1966. But with a chance to go to the first game, the Cowboys lost 34-27 to the in the NFL Championship Game.

The NFL revamped its format the following season. Adding two expansion franchises – the and – the league grew to 16 teams and was split into four divisions. The Capitol and Century divisions formed the Eastern Conference and the Central and Coastal Divisions were in the Western Conference.

With a 9-5 record, Dallas won the Capitol Division title. The Browns, also 9-5, captured the Century Division crown. The two teams had met in the Week 1 season opener at Cleveland. The Cowboys prevailed 21-14 and that was the tie-breaking difference that provided Dallas with home-field advantage.

The Cowboys proved a resilient bunch that season. They persevered and displayed their depth, continuing to win despite the absences of , , and Dave Manders. Third-year QB , who'd later be the first QB to lead Dallas to a Super Bowl appearance, stepped in and started three games in Meredith's absence. Meredith would play in the postseason wearing a specially-designed mask to protect his broken nose.

Doomsday For Cleveland

Asked what he thought would be the difference against the Browns, Cowboys Ernie Stautner didn't hesitate. “Willie, Jethro, Lilly, and George,” Stautner told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

He was referencing the Cowboys' front four of Defensive Ends George Andrie and Willie Townes and Defensive Tackles, and Jethro Pugh. Cleveland finished as the NFL's top rushing attack. Dallas, though, was the NFL's best run . The Cowboys held the Browns to minus-five yards rushing in the season opener.

Stautner called them the Doomsday Four, a forerunner to the eventual granting of the nickname later given to the Dallas unit.

As the Cowboys prepared to host the Browns at the Cotton Bowl, news broke on the eve of the game that the team was planning to build a new facility in Irving to be known as , hoping to move in for the 1970 season.

Remembering The Cowboys' Epic First Playoff Victory 2

Executing The Browns

In the history of the NFL, few postseason games were over as quickly as this one. Dallas set the tone from the opening kickoff. The Cowboys held the ball for six minutes, driving 80 yards, culminating in a three-yard Meredith to Craig Baynham touchdown pass.

It was 24-0 Cowboys by the second quarter before Cleveland finally got on the board. Three more Dallas TDs in the third quarter added insult to injury. The final score finished 52-14 in favor of the Cowboys.

“You never go into this important game expecting to win by this much,” Dallas Coach told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We took control early, though, and kept it.”

Baynham, subbing for the injured Reeves, also ran for two TDs. rushed for two scores. Meredith threw a TD pass to . The defense also contributed on the scoreboard. Cornell Green returned an interception 60 yards to the house. Danny Villaneuva converted all seven TDs and kicked a 10-yard field goal.

“It was strictly execution,” Meredith remarked. “We marched right through them.”

In 62 postseason games since, the Dallas Cowboys have never managed to put more points on the scoreboard. They did tie this mark in , belting the 52-17. The 38-point margin of victory was equaled in 1982 during a 38-0 shutout of the .

Another oddity from this game. In three playoff meetings with the Browns, it remains the only victory by the Cowboys.

Star Staff
Star Staff
This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

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