Posted: 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
On January 15, 1978 the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos met at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans for Super Bowl XII. Both teams entered the playoffs that season with identical 12-2 records and they each had a defense with a reputation for dominating their opponents. Dallas featured its famed Doomsday Defense while the Broncos relied on its legendary Orange Crush Defense. In addition, the game provided an opportunity for former Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton to prove himself against the man who essentially ran him out of Texas, Roger Staubach.
For the Cowboys, the game started off rather sloppy; Dallas fumbled three times over their first two possessions, but the did not turn the ball over. From that point, Tom Landry's vaunted defense assumed control of the game. They forced Morton into throwing two consecutive interceptions and the Dallas offense capitalized on both. The first quarter came to a close with the Cowboys holding a 10-0 advantage.
The second quarter saw another fifteen minutes of sloppy play, with both squads suffering from turnovers. In addition, the Dallas place kicker, Efrin Herrera, missed on two of his three field goal attempts during the period. Even though Morton had thrown four interceptions and the Broncos lost three fumbles, the half ended with the Cowboys only holding a 13-0 lead.
Coming out to start the second half, Denver started to assert itself. Taking their initial possession deep into Dallas territory, the Broncos finally got on the scoreboard when Jim Turner connected on a field goal. Dallas responded with a touchdown as Staubach hit Butch Johnson for a fingertip catch. On the play, Johnson lost possession as he fell into the end zone but it was ruled a touchdown. Denver then made a change at quarterback, inserting Norris Weese, who promptly led the Broncos to a touchdown of their own. Three quarters in the books, the Cowboys held a 20-10 lead.
Midway through the final stanza, Harvey Martin made the play that swung momentum back in the Cowboys favor. He sacked Weese who lost possession of the ball. It was the eighth turnover of the game for the Broncos. On the next play, Staubach tossed the ball to Robert Newhouse on a halfback option play. Newhouse lofted a 29 yard pass to Golden Richards to make the score 27-10. With that the Cowboys brought home their second Lombardi Trophy.
Randy White and Harvey Martin were named as the co-MVPs of the game, but only after the NFL rejected the voters' initial choice, the entire Cowboys starting defensive unit. Between themselves, White and Martin forced five Broncos turnovers. Those takeaways resulted in 17 Dallas points.
Although it was not pretty, Super Bowl XII was the high water point of the Tom Landry era. The players who were the backbone of the Dallas roster were beginning to age and Roger Staubach would soon retire from the game. With the front office not reloading the team like they did after the first Super Bowl win, the die was cast for the rise of a new power in the NFC. The Cowboys would not return to the big game until after the Jerry Jones era began.