Landry merely said that given the circumstances, he'd be foolish to say he had graded out at 100%. Landry has been known to overlook certain plays that seemed to work in the past. This has raised hopes around Dallas of a season-saving scenario, in which Allen tells Landry he has discovered that the coach has forgotten all year to call Dorsett's favorite play—call it the 22 trap. "Of course," says Landry, clapping a palm to his forehead, "the 22 trap."
No such luck, Cowboy fans. In his film review, Allen reduced the Cowboys' woes to a single word—turnovers. Last year after 10 games, Dallas was plus 11 in this statistic. This year the Cowboys are minus 13—a swing of 24. Playoff teams almost never have more giveaways than takeaways. Particularly disturbing are the contributions of Staubach and Dorsett. Staubach has been intercepted 15 times, up 10 from a year ago. Dorsett has fumbled eight times—and lost six, almost all of them in key situations. Turnovers hurt Dallas against Miami. The Cowboys had five, the Dolphins none.
?" TONY DORSETT IS A MENACE TO COWBOY SOCIETY." This gained currency when Dorsett failed to appear for a Saturday morning practice three weeks ago. The next day Landry fined Dorsett and benched him as a starter against the Eagles. Dorsett angrily told reporters after the game that his family had come from Pennsylvania to Dallas to watch him play, that he was humiliated and that a teammate had slept through a practice without such severe punishment. Dorsett was referring to Safety Cliff Harris, who napped while his teammates practiced one day during the exhibition season.
There was a difference, however. Harris, contrite, called the Cowboys the minute he awoke. Dorsett never bothered to phone in, remaining incommunicado until he sauntered into the dressing room shortly before the game. When Harris heard what Dorsett was telling reporters, he hauled him into a locker-room shower to discuss the matter. In Dallas it is well known that if you have to tangle with Cliff Harris, you would be wise to bring Godzilla along as a tag-team partner. A witness to the shower scene described Dorsett as being "extremely attentive."
This wasn't the first time Dorsett had flouted team rules. In training camp this summer he strolled into a meeting 50 minutes late and, as one coach put it, "didn't seem to give a damn." Dorsett tried to make amends for his tardiness with an emotional apology to his teammates before the Minnesota game. Most Cowboy veterans tend to dismiss Dorsett's problems on the grounds of "immaturity." And some agree with All-Pro Wide Receiver Drew Pearson, who says, "Tony is no problem." But there are other Cowboys who say, " Dorsett's down to his last strike."
?"WE'VE BEEN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE." This is the favorite of team historians, who point out that in the past, only one team—the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers—improved its regular-season record the season after it won the Super Bowl. "When you're a Super Bowl winner, you face a constant battle of playing teams with chips on their shoulders," says Staubach.
Still, Staubach is optimistic. He points out that the first two times the Cowboys went to the Super Bowl, after the 1970 and 1971 seasons, they escaped from midseason holes deeper than the one into which they have now dug themselves. In 1970, Dallas' record fell to 5-4 after a humiliating 38-0 loss to St. Louis on Monday night TV. And in '71 the Cowboys were 4-3 at midseason and badly divided by Landry's practice of alternating Craig Morton and Staubach play by play. Dallas was undefeated the rest of the regular season both years—finishing 10-4 in 1970 and 11-3 in 1971.
Perhaps Landry was also thinking about this when he said before the Miami game, "Sometimes you need a little adversity to be able to respond." Around Dallas, Tom, four losses qualify as a lot of adversity.