|1978 Dallas Cowboys season|
|Head Coach||Tom Landry|
|Home Field||Texas Stadium|
|Place||1st NFC East|
|Playoff Finish||Lost Super Bowl XIII (Steelers)|
|Previous Season||Next Season|
The 1978 Dallas Cowboys season was their 19th in the NFL. For the third consecutive season, the Cowboys finished in first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys scored 384 points, which ranked first in the NFC, while the defense only gave up 208 points. Twice, the Cowboys appeared on Monday Night Football.
The Cowboys became the first franchise to appear in five Super Bowls. With their loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIII, they also became the first team to lose a Super Bowl after having won it the previous year.
|Pick #||NFL Team||Player||Position||College|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Larry Bethea||Defensive End||Michigan State|
The defending Super Bowl champions were again led by quarterback Roger Staubach. Staubach finished the season as the top rated passer in the NFL (84.9) by throwing 231 out of 413 completions for 3,190 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 182 yards and another touchdown. Wide receivers Drew Pearson and Tony Hill provided the deep passing threats, combining for 90 receptions, 537 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Tight end Billy Joe Dupree contributed 34 receptions for 509 yards and 9 touchdowns. Running back Tony Dorsett had another fine season, recording a total of 1703 combined rushing and receiving yards, and scoring a total of 9 touchdowns. Fullback Robert Newhouse and halfback Preston Pearson also contributed from the offensive backfield, combining for 1,326 rushing and receiving yards, while Newhouse also scored 10 touchdowns. The Cowboys also had a superb offensive line, led by Herbert Scott and 12-time Pro Bowler Rayfield Wright
The Cowboys' "Doomsday Defense" finished the season as the top ranked defense in the league against the run by only allowing 107.6 yards per game. Pro Bowl linemen Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin and Randy White anchored the line, while linebackers Bob Breunig, D. D. Lewis and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson provided solid support. Their secondary, led by safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters, along with cornerbacks Benny Barnes and Aaron Kyle, combined for 16 interceptions.
The Cowboys started the regular season slowly, winning only six of their first ten games. Both the offense and the defense played ineffectively, including giving up interceptions and fumbles. Dallas finished strong, winning their last six regular season games to post a 12–4 record.
In the aftermath of the season, NFL Films produced its annual highlight reel as it does for every NFL team. Notable of the highlight reel was the title, "America's Team". It would come to be a label that would define the Dallas Cowboys for the rest of their history. However, the label is most remembered for the Cowboys of this era, appearing in three Super Bowls in four years and claiming a unique spotlight in the American consciousness.
|1||September 4, 1978||Baltimore Colts||W 38–0|
|2||September 10, 1978||at New York Giants||W 34–24|
|3||September 17, 1978||at Los Angeles Rams||L 27–14|
|4||September 24, 1978||St. Louis Cardinals||W 21–12|
|5||October 2, 1978||at Washington Redskins||L 9–5|
|6||October 8, 1978||New York Giants||W 24–3|
|7||October 15, 1978||at St. Louis Cardinals||W 24–21|
|8||October 22, 1978||Philadelphia Eagles||W 14–7|
|9||October 26, 1978||Minnesota Vikings||L 21–10|
|10||November 5, 1978||at Miami Dolphins||L 23–16|
|11||November 12, 1978||at Green Bay Packers||W 42–14|
|12||November 19, 1978||New Orleans Saints||W 27–7|
|13||November 23, 1978||Washington Redskins||W 37–10|
|14||December 3, 1978||New England Patriots||W 17–10|
|15||December 10, 1978||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 31–13|
|16||December 17, 1978||at New York Jets||W 30–7|
|St. Louis Cardinals||6||10||0||.375||248||296|
|New York Giants||6||10||0||.375||264||298|
|Dallas Cowboys 1978 roster|
Rookies in italics
NFC Divisional Playoff
Dallas Cowboys 27, Atlanta Falcons 20|
Dallas' "Doomsday Defense" limited Atlanta quarterback Steve Bartkowski to only 8 completions in 23 attempts and intercepted him 3 times en route to victory. After the Falcons led 20–13 at halftime, the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered points in the second half.
NFC Championship Game
Dallas Cowboys 28, Los Angeles Rams 0|
Super Bowl XIII
Dallas Cowboys 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 35|
Super Bowl XIII can arguably be called the greatest collection of NFL talent ever to gather for a game. In additions to Coaches Noll and Landry, 14 players would go on to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame: 9 from Pittsburgh (Bradshaw, Harris, Swann, Stallworth, Webster, Greene, Lambert, Ham, and Blount), and 5 from Dallas (Staubach, Dorsett, White, Wright, and Jackie Smith).
Much of the pregame hype surrounding Super Bowl XIII centered around Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Henderson caused quite a stir before the NFC Championship Game by claiming that the Rams had "no class" and the Cowboys would shut them out. His prediction turned out to be very accurate; the Cowboys did shut them out, aided by Henderson's 68-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In the days leading up the Super Bowl, Henderson began talking about the Steelers in the same manner. He predicted another shutout and then made unfriendly comments about several Pittsburgh players. He put down the talent and the intelligence of Bradshaw, proclaiming "Bradshaw couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'". But the Steelers refused to get into a war of words with Henderson. Greene responded by saying the Steelers didn't need to say they were the best, they would just go out on the field and "get the job done".
Awards and records
- Led NFL in Sacks
- Led NFL, Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed (1,721)
- Led NFL, Most Rushing Yards (2,783)
- Led NFL, Points Scored (384)
- Roger Staubach, NFL Passing Leader
- Roger Staubach, NFC Leader, Touchdown Passes (25)
- Tony Dorsett, Second Consecutve 1,000 Yard Rushing Season, (Finished season with 1,325 yards, third in NFL)
- NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 295
- 1978 Dallas Cowboys season article at Wikipedia
- 1978 Dalls Cowboys at Pro Football Reference
- 1978 Dallas Cowboys at jt-sw.com
- Dallas Cowboys 1978 Highlight Film 1 of 2; "America's Team" (NFL Films video at YouTube) 
- Dallas Cowboys 1978 Highlight Film 2 of 2; "America's Team" (NFL Films video at YouTube)