Monday, April 23, 2012

APR's top 25 regular season upsets: #16

#16: 1976
Week 11: 1976 Cowboys 10, Falcons 17
Cowboys' season: finished 11-3, clinched the #2 seed of the NFC, but lost to the Rams in the Divisonal round of the playoffs.
Falcons' season: finished 4-10. Head coach Marion Campbell resigned 5 games into the season.
What happened: the 1976 Cowboys didn't have a high-scoring offense. They scored under 21 points in 8 of their games that season. On a related note, the Cowboys' offense also lost the ball 3 or more times in half their regular season games (including 4 turnovers in this one).
Quarterback Roger Staubach didn't have a great season in 1976, but this was one of his worst performances: a 46% completion rate, 3 interceptions, 5.6 yards per pass attempt—it's no wonder the Cowboys only scored 10 points in this game.
The only question about this game is what happened at the end. Through 3 quarters, the Cowboys had managed to pitch a 10-0 shut-out of the Falcons. In spite of their poor offensive play, all the Cowboys needed was one more quarter of shutting down the Falcons, and they could've escaped with a win. Instead, the Falcons scored 17 fourth-quarter points, and got their upset.
Also of note: the 1976 Cowboys were in the middle of an extraordinary streak of success: they had consecutive winning seasons for 20 years, from 1966 to 1985, including 18 playoff appearances, and 5 Super Bowl appearances (winning twice).

Next week: the Eagles can't score 14 points on a very bad