Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns: There's More History Than You Think
There isn’t a team hotter in the NFL right now than the Dallas Cowboys. Coming off their overtime win against their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there isn’t a colder team than the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys come into Sunday’s game 6-1 after a sixth straight win while the Browns are 0-8.
1960’s (5 wins-14 losses)
Despite playing in different conferences, the two clubs have quite a bit of history. The first meeting between these two clubs happened on October 16, 1960. The Browns would win that game 48-7. As a matter of fact, the Cowboys 41 points in their first four meetings combined left them outscored by 89 points. The first win for Dallas did not come until December 2, 1962, in their fifth meeting. At the time the Cowboys and Browns were in the same conference until 1970. The Cowboys inaugural year was spent in the Western Conference before moving over in 1961.
In that December meeting in 1962 Cowboys quarterback “Dandy,” Don Meredith threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 12 passes, posting a 157.3 passer rating. Don Perkins added two scores on the ground in route to the win. Eddie LeBaron would throw a touchdown pass in the 4th quarter to put Dallas up 45-14. The Cowboys would then drop the next seven to Cleveland giving them a 1-11 record in their first 12 games against the Browns.
A tradition begins.
In 1966 the Dallas Cowboys began hosting the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Their first opponent would be the Browns. A team they hadn’t beat in seven attempts. The Cowboys would take the early lead behind two of four Danny Villanueva kicks. After the Browns responded with a Leroy Kelly touchdown, Lou Groza would kick the extra point to take the lead.
Meredith would find Dan Reeves in the second quarter to re-take the lead only to squander it right back with an Ernie Green 16-yard touchdown reception. Villanueva would add two field goals in the 3rd to take the 19-14 lead. In the 4th Perkins would score the final touchdown of the game to give the Cowboys their first victory on Turkey Day. This wouldn’t be the last time the two clubs would meet on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys went on to win the next the three meetings including the 1967 Eastern Conference Championship at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Cowboys raced out to a 21-0 lead following an 86-yard touchdown pass from Meredith to “Bullet” Bob Hayes. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the Cowboys had a commanding 45-7 lead. The Cowboys would end up winning 52-14. The 38-point victory was the largest in this series for the Cowboys. The largest overall belongs to the Browns for their 41-point victory in their first ever meeting.
In their final three matchups in the 1960’s the Browns would come away victorious in each contest. This included the 1968 and 1969 Eastern Conference Championships. In 1970 the two teams would be split up between the NFC and AFC conferences that we have today.
1970’s (2 wins-1 loss)
The first meeting of the 1970’s had the oddest score of any of their games. Cowboys would win 6-2, which looks more like a baseball score than football. After Hayes was tackled in the end zone for the safety in the 1st quarter the Cowboys wouldn’t get on the board until the 3rd quarter. Mike Clark would hit a field in the final two quarters for the 6-2 win. In 1974 the two teams would meet for the first time at Texas Stadium.
The quarterback for this game was Roger Staubach. He would throw three touchdown passes in the game, the first two to Golden Richards for an early 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter. The Browns would cut the game close in the 3rd quarter with a Ken Brown touchdown. The lead at that time was 20-17 Cowboys. Walt Garrison would add two scores and Staubach’s 3rd touchdown pass that fell into the arms of Billy Joe DuPree. The Browns would beat the Cowboys in 1979 26-7 for their lone victory of this decade.
1980 (2 wins-1 loss)
Both wins in the 1980’s came at Texas Stadium in 1982 and 1985 by a combined 51-21 margin. In the first meeting quarterback Danny White and running back Tony Dorsett combined for four scores. The Cowboys led 31-0 going into the 4th quarter and won the game 31-14.
In 1985 the Cowboys again got off to a quick start leading 20-0 going into the fourth quarter. White threw for one touchdown but also had a receiving touchdown when James Jones hit him for the 12-yard touchdown. The final score was Cowboys 20-7.
In the final season under legendary coach Tom Landry, the Cowboys met with Cleveland at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. In the 2nd quarter quarterback Steve Pelluer throw the go-ahead touchdown to Steve Folsom. Browns’ quarterback Bernie Kosar would throw two touchdowns to regain the lead and extend it at 24-14. Herschel Walker would run for a four-yard touchdown in the 4th but it was too little too late as Cowboys fall 24-21.
1990’s (1 win-1 loss)
The Cowboys and Browns would open the 1991 season in Cleveland. It was a battle between two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Although neither quarterback had won one yet and Kosar won his as a member of the 1993 Dallas Cowboys. Troy Aikman threw touchdowns to Jay Novacek and Michael Irvin. Ken Willis added four field goals for the 26-14 win. Kosar’s lone touchdown was a 62-yard pass to Webster Slaughter to cut the lead to 20-14.
In 1994 the Cowboys would host the Browns. Emmitt Smith would start off the scoring with a 7-yard pass from Aikman. The Browns led by Vinny Testaverde would score 16 straight points to take the 16-7 lead in the 4th quarter. After Emmitt scored on a four-yard run the Cowboys got within two. Matt Stover would kick his 4th field goal of the game to extend the lead to 19-14. The Cowboys would drive down the field but a goal line stand by Cleveland gave them the win. Novacek failed to reach the end zone on an Aikman pass as time expired.
2000’s (2 wins-no losses)
The last game between these two teams happened in 1994 late in the season. The teams wouldn’t meet again until 2004 a decade later. In 1995 team owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens. It wasn’t until 1999 that football would return to Cleveland. In 2004 the teams would play their final matchup at Texas Stadium. Former Browns’ quarterback Testaverde would lead the Cowboys to the victory. Eddie George would add a rushing score. Phil Dawson’s four field goals were all the offense Cleveland could muster up.
In 2008 the Cowboys led by Tony Romo came to Cleveland’s new stadium now called First Energy Stadium. Romo would throw for 320 yards and one touchdown pass to Terrell Owens. Marion Barber would add two rushing scores from the one-yard line and Felix Jones added another for the 28-10 win.
2010’s (1 win-no losses)
In 2012 the Cowboys hosted the Browns in their new stadium now called AT&T Stadium. The Browns came out quickly putting Dallas in a 13-0 whole by halftime behind 29-year-old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys lone score before the 4th quarter came on a 44-yard field goal from Weeden’s college teammate Dan Bailey.
A rushing touchdown from Jones early in the quarter and a 28-yard Dez Bryant touchdown got the Cowboys a 17-13 lead. A Weeden to Benjamin Watson connection gave the Browns a 20-17 lead with 1:07 in the game. Tony Romo had to reach into his bag of tricks as Cowboys fans had become accustomed to. Bailey was once again called on for a field goal to send it to overtime as he tied the game with just two seconds left. He would also have a 38-yard game-winning field goal in the extra session. There was no doubt Dan “Split Em” Bailey would come through.
The Cowboys haven’t lost to the Browns since 1994 with their current 3-0 win streak. However, Dallas is behind in the all-time series 17-13. Bovada has the Cowboys favored by 7.5. So far Dallas is 6-0-1 against the spread while the Browns are 2-6. The game will kick off at noon central time on FOX.
Follow Patrick Conn on twitter at @DraftCowboys