This is the dimension we need--1977
The Record Book: 1977 Season
Cowboys TD Philly, clinch NFL East
Tony steps 206 yards
By BOB ST. JOHN / The Dallas Morning News
That New Dimension the Dallas Cowboys have this season was never more in evidence than on this Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.
For instance, early in the fourth period That New Dimension, which of course is Tony Dorsett, ran a play called the "Eagle Special" on a first down at the Cowboy 16-yard line. He got what he was looking for, what the Cowboys were looking for and needed to beat the Eagles and clinch the NFC East title and a host spot in the playoffs.
Dorsett burst between blocks by guard Tom Rafferty on linebacker Bill Bergey, a man you must block to run on the Eagles, and tight end Jay Saldi on nose guard Art Thomas. Weakside tackle Ralph Neely cut off the pursuit of end Carl Hairston and Dorsett skipped into the secondary. Flanker Drew Pearson shielded off cornerback Herman Edwards and Dorsett broke into the clear and then just outran everybody for an 84-yard touchdown.
It capped the best day a Cowboy runner had ever had, 206 yards on 23 carries, was the longest run ever by a Cowboy and was also the longest in the National Football League this season.
And it won the Eagle game, 24-14, for Dallas before 60,289 (4,406 no-shows) on a fine, sun-filled afternoon in Texas Stadium.
"Dorsett's run broke our backs," said Eagle coach Dick Vermeil. "He's just like he was when they drafted him, the best in the country."
"The run did it," said Tom Landry, who has finally unleashed Dorsett after spotting him mostly in a season of learning.
"It was just a great play for me," said Dorsett. "The blocking was super, better than ever. And it's always good to have a 200-yard day but it wouldn't mean a thing if we hadn't won. Not a thing.
"Really. I felt something like that was coming. I kept getting through for seven, ten yard gains and almost breaking. Drew really "did a great job getting that guy downfield.
"And the thing that's important is that we got our offense, which had been sluggish, going again. That's what we were looking for."
Dorsett admitted he had received some extra incentive in the third period when his fumble set up the Eagles for a short, 37-yard scoring drive to tie the game, 14-14.
"You lose a fumble like that and you want to do something to erase it," he said. "I try my best to do something positive to wash a fumble out of the picture."
Actually, two plays had been put in especially for the Eagle 3-4 defense. One was called "Eagle Special" which is run out of a Red Formation, a split backfield, and the other was "Eagle Special I" out of the I-formation. When the play was called, Dorsett thought he heard "I" and shifted into the I-formation. When he saw fullback Robert Newhouse split, he knew he was wrong and split again.
In both "Specials" Dallas used two tight ends, sending Saldi in motion. But instead of heading on out, Jay cut back inside to block the middle guard. It worked to perfection.
"I tell you the guy can break anytime he touches the ball," said Neely. "Sure, you feel super when a guy makes that many yards. You've got to be doing some blocking in there."
"I thought it was the best blocking day we've had," said tackle Pat Donovan. "Newhouse (52 yards on 14 carries) also had a good day." Even if you take away the 84-yard run, Dorsett still would have had a super day, although with it his 8.9 per carry average was staggering. His total also ups his season rushing to 865 yards, within reach of a 1,000-yard year with two games remaining, and his two touchdowns gives him 11 for the season, tying Duane Thomas club record.
"Sure, every runner would like to gain 1,000 yards," said Dorsett. "But I'm thinking Super Bowl. That's the thing I want."
Actually, Dallas had clinched the divisional title before the game was ever over because the fading St. Louis Cardinals continued that trend and lost to the Giants. For the record, Dallas now has a 3-game lead over the Cardinals and Washington with two games left against San Francisco and Denver.
"What we hope to do is gain momentum for the playoffs," said Drew Pearson, who got the other Dallas TD on what was easily Roger Staubach's best throw of the day, a 16-yard arrow just out of the reach of cornerback John Outlaw at the goalline.
The 269 yards rushing, a 4.2 average, was the best for Dallas this season and Staubach, not overly sharp, hit 13 of 26 passes for 183 more yards. Runningback Preston Pearson got most of this passing yardage by legging out 70 yards on three catches. Twice Preston made beautiful runs for 30 yards on short passes, helping set up Dallas TD marches of 58 yards in seven plays and 69 yards in seven plays. Dorsett's 34-yard burst had been most responsible for putting the ball in position for Efren Herrera's 24-yard field goal.
The defense was led by and featured end Harvey Martin, who had three traps to break George Andrie's club record of 22. Martin got three, upping his total to 23, assisted in another one and led his team with 11 tackles, exceptional for a weakside end.
Ron Jaworski hit on 18 of 32 passes for 199 yards, including a fine 51 yard scoring shot down the sidelines to runningback Mike Hogan, who beat linebacker Thomas Henderson. The other TD pass came on fourth and one at the Dallas 12. With the Cowboys in their goalline defense, Harold Carmichael came off the line and was all alone as Jaworski faked play-action and tossed him the ball.
But he suffered interceptions at the hands of strong safety Charlie Waters and Mel Renfro. And it was Waters' interception early in the fourth period, directly following safety Randy Logan's second interception of a Staubach pass, which killed any hopes the Eagles have had to catch up.
Dallas now has won a conference or divisional title and made the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years. But a major reason they have done so this season is the New Dimension which has been added or Tony Dorsett if you will.