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25 Greatest: A Kick Of A Different Kind, 1972

In June 2011, Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine decided to count down the best of the best, the top 25 plays in franchise history. Obviously, this wasn't the easiest of tasks, but some 30,000-plus words later, we feel pretty good about the results. Now here in a 25-part summer series, we share our list for one and all. Without further ado, we continue with No. 18 and a snippet from the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine story:

18) A Kick of a Different Kind, Dec. 23, 1972:

Trailing 28-23 with 1:20 remaining in the 1972 divisional playoff game at San Francisco, Austrian kicker Toni Fritsch executed an onside kick to perfection with a little misdirection.

The Cowboys, the defending Super Bowl champs, were trailing 28-13 late in the third quarter when head coach Tom Landry decided to make a change at quarterback, inserting Roger Staubach for Craig Morton, who had started the entire regular season. In classic "Captain Comeback" form, Staubach then led the Cowboys to 10 fourth-quarter points, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Billy Parks with 1:20 left in the game.

As Fritsch approached for the kickoff, he stepped over the ball with his left foot while swinging his right foot around the opposite calf for a sort of soccer-style trick kick, which completely took San Francisco's hands team off its focus. Perhaps most impressive is that Fritsch got enough of the ball to send it the mandatory 10 yards before rookie linebacker Ralph Coleman tackled 49ers wideout Preston Riley as he attempted to corral the prize, which allowed Cowboys defensive back Mel Renfro to swoop in and recover the pigskin at the 50-yard line.

"I think it was important, no? I think it was the game," Fritsch said afterward.

It most certainly was, as Staubach quickly drove the Cowboys down the field before connecting on a 10-yard touchdown pass with Ron Sellers for the game-winner. Dallas advanced, 30-28.

Follow Jeff Sullivan: @SullyBaldHead.*

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