Four years after it opened and four months after the famous “September to Remember” boxing match where Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks in front of 65,000 fans, the Louisiana Superdome hosted its first of six Super Bowls. The and the squared off in Super Bowl XII. New Orleans had already played host to three Super Bowls but those games were at Tulane Stadium. Some chilly weather had greeted the teams when they came to New Orleans in the past but that was not to happen as the Cowboys and Broncos took part in the first-ever Super Bowl played indoors.
The 1977 season marked Dallas’s fourth appearance in the Super Bowl as they looked to even their record at 2-2. Meanwhile, the Broncos were cruising through a magical season as they captured their first-ever division and conference title and were eyeing the ultimate, the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy.
Despite the comfortable confines of the indoor environment, the game got off to a sloppy start when Cowboys receiver Butch Johnson fumbled but recovered the ball during a double reverse. The play lost nine yards. That trend continued for Dallas as they fumbled a then Super Bowl record six times that day.
Luckily for the Cowboys its “Dooms Day Defense” came to the rescue. The unit made it very difficult for Denver to hold onto the ball. The Dallas defense forced and recovered four fumbles as well as harassed Broncos quarterback Craig Morton into throwing four interceptions. Dallas converted two of those picks into 10 points en route to a 13-0 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Morton engineered a drive to the Cowboys' 30 and Jim Turner's 47-yard field goal made the score 13-3. After an exchange of punts, Johnson made up for his earlier miscue with a spectacular diving catch in the end zone for a 45-yard TD pass play from Roger Staubach to put the Cowboys out in front 20-3.
Midway through the quarter Broncos wide receiver Rick Upchurch returned a kickoff 67 yards to the Dallas 26 yard-line. After Morton was nearly intercepted for the fifth time, Denver inserted backup quarterback Norris Weese into game. He guided the Broncos to their only touchdown and cut the Dallas lead to 20-10.
Dallas then put the game away with seven minutes remaining on a trick play. Fullback Robert Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Golden Richards to close out the scoring at 27-10.
Dallas’s defense was the difference as they held Denver’s offense to a Super Bowl record 35 yards passing, a mark that still stands today. The Broncos also mustered a mere 157 total net yards of offense. The game’s Most Valuable Player Award was shared by defensive end Harvey Martin and defensive tackle .
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