Saturday, September 6, 2008

Season Openers

In following the Cowboys since the fourth Grade(1981) I can recall all of the Cowboys season openers. Their record in the previous twenty- seven that I've followed(with tomorrow's game being number twenty-eight) record stands at 15-12. It's hard to pick what my favorite one is of those. I enjoyed last years shootout win over the Giants as much as I was dissappointed with the loss way back in '82 at home to the aging Pittsburgh Steelers. Danny White back then had probably one of the worst games of his career. I remember it well. Yes I know that I was only eleven and that now I'm older than Danny White was then. But I remember it. The 1999 opener at Washington was memorable. It was a road game on a Sunday afternoon right underneath the nose of Redskin owner Daniel Snyder, who had just purchased the team. The Skins with QB Brad Johnson (now the 40 year old backup to Tony Romo) was tearing the Cowboys secondary to shreds and Fox kept showing Snyder jubuliantly cheering and whooping it up in his suite. It was 35-14 going into the 4th quarter when the Cowboys rallied all the way back to send it into overtime. And then Troy Aikman on a third and four play at his own 24, performed play action, unleashing a 76 yard bomb to Rocket Ismail, who was 15 yards behind everyone and caught it in stride at about the Redskins 30 and cruised into the end zone to complete the comeback win. Aikman threw a career high FIVE touchdown passes in that 41-35 win. Another memorable game was the 1995 opener when the Cowboys were up at the Meadowlands and were on their way to their third and final Super Bowl triumph of the 1990s. Emmitt Smith took his first handoff of the year and shot straight up the middle through a massive gaping hole ( I could've driven my Coca-Cola truck through it) He was gone for a sixty yarder and the Cowboys romped 35-0. The 1996 game at Chicago was one to forget for sure. The Cowboys were Awful with a capital A. And late in the game, Smith landed funny on his head and was removed from the game with fear of some paralysis. He did come back the next wk to play and the Cowboys rebounded with a win. The most embarrassing opener for Dallas had to be the 2002 opener when they lost to the brand new Houston Texans, who were playing their very first real NFL game. Ofcourse in 2002, the Cowboys were a pretty sorry bunch anyways. But I think that their five wins that year were still more than the Texans would manage so it WAS embarrassing. I can't forget the 1985 season opener. The Cowboys hosted the Redskins and it was Joe Theismann's 36th birthday(Theismann suffered that horrific career ending injury later that yr on a Monday night against the Giants) on Monday night football in Texas Stadium. The Cowboys secondary picked off six passes in all (five of them Theismann's and one off of Jay Schroeder when he came in with the game out of reach) In the closing minutes of what would be a resounding 44-14 Dallas win, the crowd in Texas Stadium started singing a sarcastic "Happy Birthday" song to Theismann. I will always remember that one as the Happy Birthday game. I still chuckle when I think back to it. The most memorable Cowboys opener that I can recall, in a close one over the aforementioned 1999 game was the 1983 opener. It was also against the Redskins, and on a hot and muggy 90 plus degree night at RFK Stadium, the defending Super Bowl champ Redskins were stomping the Cowboys at the half. It was 23-3, and it could've been even worse. The stats in that first half were so lopsided, it was ridiculous. The most glaring stat of the game besides the score, was Danny White's 1-9 half for ten yards. The Cowboys, who had been to the previous three NFC Championship games, were still a good team and in the second half they got off of the deck and decided to fight. In their first two possessions of that second half, White completed two long bombs for touchdowns to WR Tony Hill and it was suddenly 23-17. It stayed that way until late in the fourth White led the team down the field, converting a fourth and one play on a daring quarterback sneak and then a few plays later, he scored from 2 yards out to put Dallas in front. Then, with just over two minutes to play, Theismann was picked off by Dextor Clinkskale, and then Danny White completed his third passing TD (actually his fourth overall since he'd run in for the one that put his team ahead) to TE Doug Cosbie. At 31-23 and with less than two minutes remaining, the Redskins were out of time (the two pt conversion wasn't added to the NFL until 1994) and scored a TD with about 10 seconds left to get within one point. The Cowboys recovered the onside kick and held on. This game was especially memorable because of how one sided it had been in that first half for Dallas. They were flat, not sharp, not crisp, and were going through the motions. They seemed to be leaving a lot to be desired. And then suddenly in the second half, they were alive, and they came back to win. So the 1983 game to me, was the most memorable season opener as a Cowboys fan. And at this point, I don't think that it will ever be topped. It's like the 99 yard run for a TD by Dorsett that can't possibly be broken. Tomorrow, I don't look for anything too memorable. Just a W to get this thing off to a good enough start.

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