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Week 8 Edition

Broken Record Remembers

Oct. 29, 2011

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 253 yards with one touchdown in the Cowboys' 34-7 win over the St. Louis Rams last Sunday. While Murray's rushing total still ranks as the second most rushing yards in a game by a rookie in NFL history (Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson holds the rookie and all-time record with 296), his rushing output toppled both the Cowboys' franchise and rookie rushing records held by Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett respectively. Dallas has to be hoping that Murray's offensive outburst is a sign of things to come.

Do you remember when Smith surpassed Dorsett as the Cowboys' all-time franchise leader for most rushing yards gained in a single game?

The Cowboys met their division rival Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9 of the 1993 season. It marked the first game between the two clubs since the Cowboys' 34-10 playoff win over the Eagles in the prior season. That victory, in which Smith ran the ball 25 times for 114 yards and one TD, came in the divisional playoff round. Dallas continued through the playoffs and capped the year with a Super Bowl victory.

So, no doubt the Eagles were gearing up to stop Smith when they met in Philadelphia on a rainy, cold, and windy day on Oct. 31, 1993. Each team entered the game with identical 4-2 records. The winner of the Halloween showdown in Philadelphia would pull themselves into a tie for first-place in the division with the New York Giants. The loser on the other hand would fall to third place and further behind in a tight playoff race.

Dallas wasted little time getting Smith involved in the game with three straight runs on their first offensive series. Backed up to their own 2-yard line Smith ran off the left side of the line twice for 13 yards and then hit the middle for a big 25-yard gain which brought the ball out to the Cowboys' 40-yard line. Dallas crossed midfield on a personal foul penalty against the Eagles. Then a few short passes and three more Smith carries set up the Cowboys first points of the day via a 35-yard field goal by Eddie Murray.

Smith continued to chew up yardage in the first half and set up a Kevin Williams end-around in the second quarter to give the Cowboys a 10-0 lead. The Eagles, however, fired back and scored a touchdown just before halftime on a 3-yard pass play from quarterback Ken O'Brien to former Cowboys running back Hershel Walker. Despite the fact that Emmitt entered the locker room at halftime with 129 yards rushing on 16 carries for an astonishing 8.1 yards per carry average, Dallas only held a 10-7 lead.

The Cowboys continued to pound away with the ground attack but the Eagles defense stiffened holding Smith to just 14 rushing yards in the third quarter and the Cowboys to just a field goal. Philadelphia then opened the fourth quarter with a field goal and Dallas' lead was cut to three, 13-10. On the next Cowboys' possession Smith powered ahead for 25 more yards on six carries during the drive to set up another Murray field goal which increased Dallas's lead to six, 16-10.

Finally after a Philadelphia punt, Smith put the game away with 4 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the game when he burst through the middle of the line on a delayed handoff and rumbled 62 yards for the score.

Smith finished the day with a franchise record 237 yards rushing on 30 carries. His performance tied Jim Brown for the sixth most single-game rushing yardage in league history as well as the most rushing yards ever allowed by the Eagles in one game, a record that had stood for 32 years.

It was a brilliant day for Smith on his way to his third consecutive league rushing title, NFL MVP honors and Super Bowl XXVIII MVP honors as the Cowboys won back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Week Seven Edition

1 Down...115 to Go

Oct. 22, 2011

The Week 6 matchup between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys turned out to be quite a thriller. New England quarterback Tom Brady once again lifted the team on his shoulders and put together a last-minute touchdown drive to beat the Cowboys 20-16. Brady completed 27 of 41 passes for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winning 8-yard touchdown strike to Aaron Hernandez with just 27 seconds remaining in the game. The victory allowed Brady and his head coach Bill Belichick to tie Dan Marino and Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins for the most wins by a quarterback-head coach combination (116) in the Super Bowl era.

Do you remember when Coach Shula and his quarterback Danny "Cover Boy," as he was affectionately known by his teammates early in his career, recorded their first victory together as a head coach-starting quarterback duo?

Miami, fresh off a Super Bowl XVII appearance, selected Marino with the 27th pick overall in the 1983 National Football League Draft. Without an immediate need at the quarterback position Miami hoped for Marino to learn on the sideline while he watched the incumbent QB David Woodley run Shula's offense. It wasn't long, however, before Marino earned the starting position. After he relieved Woodley twice during the first five weeks of the season, Shula thought the time was right for a change and handed the keys to the franchise over to Marino. The Dolphins found out almost instantly that they had found their quarterback for years to come.

Dan started his first NFL game on Oct. 9, 1983 against the division rival Buffalo Bills at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Marino handled himself extremely well as he completed 19 of 29 passes for 322 yards and threw 3 touchdowns. His final TD pass was a 14-yarder to receiver Mark Clayton with a little more than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter that gave Miami a 35-28 lead and what seemed to be their first victory together.

Buffalo, however, found a way to tie the game at 35 on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Joe Ferguson to Joe Cribbs on fourth-and-goal with a mere 23 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime. Marino twice during the extra period put the Dolphins in position to win, but two missed field goals by kicker Uwe Von Schamann (52, 43 yards) sealed their fate. Finally, it was Bills' kicker Joe Danelo who connected on a 36-yard field goal to give Buffalo a 38-35 comeback victory and spoil Marino's debut.

One week later, on Oct. 16, 1983, Marino and the Dolphins made the trek up the east coast to play another division rival, the New York Jets at Shea Stadium. Once again the "Cover Boy" showed why he was the face of the Dolphins franchise at such a young age when he put together another impressive showing with a second consecutive 3-touchdown pass performance. Marino also completed 17 passes for 225 yards. And this time, Shula made sure the rest of the team didn't let the young quarterback down as Miami routed the Jets 32-14. The win was Marino's first as a Dolphin and set the franchise up for years of success. Only once during his 17 seasons as Miami's quarterback did the Dolphins finish the season with a losing record.


Week Six Edition

Grounded Eagles Can Still Fly

Oct. 15, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick struggled through the air during last Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills as he completed 26 of 40 passes for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions.

He did, however, run for 90 yards on just five carries which gives him a career total of 4,948 yards rushing to make him the all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He supplanted former Eagles QB Randall Cunningham who had gained 4,928 yards on the ground during his career that also included stops with the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and Baltimore Ravens. Aside from holding the career mark, Vick also is the owner of most yards rushing by a quarterback in a game (173) and season (1,039).

Do you remember when? Cunningham scorched the New England Patriots in an Eagles 48-20 victory at home on Nov. 4, 1990. The win evened the Eagles' record at 4-4 en route to a 10-6 final record and their third straight playoff appearance.

"Rockin' Randall" did it all that afternoon as he put together one of the best all-around games in NFL history. The day started well for Cunningham and the Eagles as they methodically moved down the field on their opening possession. The drive was highlighted by a 26-yard pass completion to running back Heath Sherman on second-and-22 from the Patriots' 43-yard line and capped by a field goal that put the Eagles in front.

Things only got better from there and after New England tied the game at 3-3, Randall converted a crucial third-and-two when he scrambled wide right for 15 yards. On the very next play Cunningham connected with receiver Fred Barnett for a 37-yard touchdown pass which put the Eagles back on top 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The first five possessions of the second quarter ended without big plays or points from either team. But as the half inched closer to the end Philadelphia mustered a field goal. The Patriots then took advantage of a great punt return as they strung together two big plays from scrimmage to score their first touchdown of the game and cut Philly's lead to three, 13-10.

Then with just less than two minutes remaining in the half Randall went back to work converting on a third-and-10 with a 13-yard run, before he fired a 37-yard strike to tight end Keith Jackson for his second TD pass of the game and 20-10 halftime lead.

The Eagles began the second half with the ball and Cunningham capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Calvin Williams. The Patriots answered with a field goal to cut the lead to 27-13, but on the very next possession Philadelphia shut the door as Randall threw his fourth TD pass of the game, a 3-yarder to Jackson, that gave the Eagles a comfortable 34-13 lead. New England continued to fight and scored another touchdown, but Cunningham put the icing on his career day when he busted through the Patriots' line and cruised to the end zone on a 52-yard TD run.

Philly added one more touchdown late in the game, but the final score didn't matter. Cunningham had already stolen the show. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns while also rushing the ball eight times for 124 yards and a touchdown. By the end of that season, Cunningham had accounted for 69.8% of the Eagles' total net offense. He threw for 3,466 yards and 30 TDs and rushed for 942 yards (second most by a quarterback at that time) and 5 scores.

Week Five Edition


Oct. 8, 2011

Last week the Detroit Lions overcame a 27-3 second-half deficit to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 34-30. Detroit became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games after they trailed by at least 20 points in each contest.

A huge reason for Detroit's comeback victories was wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The fifth-year veteran is the first player in league history to have at least two receiving touchdowns in each of his team's first four games of a season. Johnson also joined Cris Carter as the only players in NFL history to record at least two touchdown receptions in four consecutive games giving him a total of eight TDs through the first quarter of the 2011 season.

Johnson has performed amazingly throughout the first four weeks of this season. And although his stats are impressive, it may not quite stack up against a performance in 1990 by a future Hall of Famer.

Do you remember when? Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice put together single game statistics that most receivers would be hard pressed to compile in three or four weeks, some in an entire season.

One such performance took place on Oct. 14, 1990 in a game that pitted the 4-0 San Francisco 49ers against the 2-2 Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers were without one of their key playmakers on offense when running back Roger Craig was deactivated for the game due to a knee injury. Craig's absence turned out not to be an obstacle for the 49ers thanks to an incredible day by Rice. The dynamic receiver picked up the slack and terrorized the Falcons' secondary, led by second-year cornerback Deion Sanders, all game long.

Atlanta began the game with the football, but on the first play from scrimmage running back Steve Broussard fumbled and gave the ball to San Francisco just outside the 26-yard line. After a quick handoff up the middle, Joe Montana connected with Rice on a 24-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the game. That was just the beginning.

In all, Rice finished the matchup with 5 touchdowns (24, 25, 19, 13, and 15 yards) and 225 yards on 13 receptions as the 49ers pulled out a 45-35 victory over the Falcons to remain undefeated at 5-0.

The five receiving touchdowns Rice scored that day tied an NFL record held by Bob Shaw of the Chicago Cardinals who established the record on Oct. 2, 1950 and Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow of the San Diego Chargers who tied it on Nov. 22, 1981. To this day those three are the only players in NFL history to record 5 touchdown receptions in a single game.

View all of Jerry Rice's 208 TDs.

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