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Unfortunately for the rest of the Eastern Conference, the formula is a much longer one. You would have to include all the numbers on both the offensive and defensive units to find the formula that produces victory for the Cowboys.
The ingredients are of most immediate interest to one team—the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are now tied with the Cowboys for first place in the division with an 8-2-1 record (the tie, of course, was with Dallas). With Charley Johnson, their regular quarterback, out for the season with an injury and only Terry Nofsinger to make their bid for the Eastern title, the Cardinals are in serious trouble.
This they demonstrated Sunday in their 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning by the desperate margin of a Jim Bakken field goal. They had had two weeks off to prepare for the game, after taking a 30-9 beating from the Steelers. The Cardinals improved by 24 points in two weeks, but they seem far from a match for Dallas in their Cotton Bowl showdown Sunday.
Nofsinger is a tall, shaggy-haired blond who has been on the fringe of pro football for six years. He is the type of quarterback who is carried as third man if a team is so well fortified it does not need insurance at, say, offensive guard. He is vulnerable to pressure, as are most quarterbacks of this ilk—and as he showed in both games with the Steelers. They harried him unmercifully in the first game and seeped through to drop him for key losses Sunday, including two fumbles. He completed only four of 16 passes for a meaningless net 29 yards.
Under the best of conditions, Nofsinger has not shown exceptional ability as a passer, and in St. Louis a fierce wind nullified the small talent he has. Even with a muddy, slippery field that prevented the Steeler line from mounting the biggest kind of pass rush and left the Steeler backs unable to cut with the Cardinal receivers, Nofsinger was almost totally ineffective. He should be even more bedeviled by Dallas.
The Cardinal defense is still sound. It held the Steelers to a total of 32 yards rushing and 48 passing, but it must be pointed out that Pittsburgh is also operating with a novice quarterback and with no runners or receivers to match those possessed by Dallas.
It would take a sound and inspired St. Louis team to beat Dallas if Johnson were playing quarterback at his best. With Terry Nofsinger, whose main claim to distinction may be a fan club in Greenland (which wrote him a letter of encouragement before the Pittsburgh game), the Cardinal chances appear remote. It looks like a cold, cold winter in Greenland and St. Louis.