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. 9 and a snippet from the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine story:
9) A Big Win At Last, Dec. 26, 1970:
The time for excuses had long since passed, the Cowboys were no longer an expansion franchise. Yet, despite an incredible 52-16-2 run over the five regular seasons spanning 1966-70, their label, a just one at that, was "Next Year's Champions," or worse, the "Team That Couldn't Win the Big Game."
The Lions visited the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 26, 1970, the winner headed to San Francisco for the NFC Championship Game. Some frigid conditions and two solid defenses made for a low-scoring affair, a field goal and a late safety accounting for the Cowboys' 5-0 lead. The Lions, with backup quarterback Bill Munson behind center, were driving on their last possession, though, and courtesy of an unfathomable 39-yard "Hail Mary"-like pass-and-catch on fourth down three snaps earlier to receiver Earl McCullouch, had the ball at the Cowboys' 29-yard line with a minute remaining.
On third-and-10, Munson threw again in McCullouch's direction, near the 15-yard line, more than enough for the first down. This time, however, the pass was high, forcing the wideout to jump for the ball. Cowboys All-Pro cornerback Mel Renfro, a yard or so behind him, could've gone for the jarring tackle, but realizing the potential for a game-clinching pick, he held his ground, and when the ball redirected itself off McCullouch's fingertips, Renfro was there, catching the prize in the midst of a graceful dive before jumping to his feet and returning it 13 yards.
"As they were driving, I remember thinking about losing the previous four years in the playoffs, and there we were about to lose again," Renfro said after the game.
"I have been waiting for that one all season. I'm glad they threw at me."