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Greatest 25: Short-handed, Dorsett Goes 99 Yards To History

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. 4 and a snippet from the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine story:

4) 99 Yards to History, Jan. 3, 1983:

When ranking the greatest plays in the history of America's Team, this one is the most difficult. For in all its brilliance and majestic elegance, for the singular moment that it was – one that almost stopped time in the sense that everyone watching, a national audience, remembers exactly where they were some 29 years later – the Cowboys lost the game. Making matters worse, the defeat wasn't even that big of deal.

So yes, in terms of spectacular, record-smashing, don't-believe-we-just-saw-that moments, Tony Dorsett's 99-yard touchdown against the Vikings on Jan. 3, 1983 was arguably the greatest individual play in franchise history. It's an unbreakable record, one that has never even been matched, before or since. And it's all the more impressive that the Cowboys had just 10 players on the field, fullback Ron Springs mistakenly on the sidelines. Heck, Dorsett didn't even have a lead block on the play. Throw in that the game was on * Monday Night Football *and it's one of those iconic moments in sports history.

The Cowboys were trailing, 24-13, in the fourth, about halfway between the goal line and the 1-yard line, a safety definitely possible. Quarterback Danny White took the snap under center and turned almost immediately, Dorsett taking the ball, sprinting through the gap between the offensive tackle and guard, and as quickly as the 5-yard line, there wasn't a defender within eight feet. He then avoided the safety at the 15-yard line with a simple plant and change of direction to his right, announcer Frank Gifford telling his *MNF *audience at that point, "Watch out, he has great speed."

And by the time those words had been spoken, Dorsett was racing across the 30, as in the exact painted numbers "3" and "0" on the right sidelines. Teammate Drew Pearson was running in front of him, trying to throw a block on one of the remaining two defenders, one of which reached out with an attempted wrap around the 18-yard line, but Dorsett ran through the arm effort with ease, slapping the would-be tackler away with his left hand, almost like a nuisance, a swarming bug in his path to immorality.

He then ran into the end zone and spiked the ball before turning to embrace Pearson's hug. The score, the outcome, none of this has really mattered since that night. This shall forever be the Tony Dorsett Game.

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