Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/14/12
This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will visit the Dallas Cowboys for the first time at Cowboys Stadium. It’s fitting that the first ever regular season game of the Cowboys was also against the Steelers at home. It was Saturday September 24th,  1960, when the NFL returned to Texas (the Dallas Texans had played in 1952, but after many financial difficulties, the team was moved during the season to Hershey, Pennsylvania and Akron, Ohio, and became the Baltimore Colts in 1953), and to the Cotton Bowl, which also had been the Texans home stadium.Tom Landry began his legendary head coaching career with this game, while the coach for the Steelers was Raymond “Buddy” Parker, who was in his fourth season with Pittsburgh, and had been very successful with the Detroit Lions in the early fifties.  The quarterback for the Steelers was future Hall of Famer Bobby Layne, a 13-year veteran who had won a couple of NFL Championships with the Detroit Lions, and for the Cowboys former Washington Redskin Eddie LeBaron started at quarterback, a 9-year veteran. The 1960 Cowboys were the only NFL expansion team since drafting college players began in 1936 to not have a Draft, because the franchise was admitted until January 1960 (the 1960 Draft was held in on November 30, 1959), so they had a mix of veterans and rejects from other teams that were picked up in an expansion Draft held in March. In fact, only two players selected in the 1960 Draft would make the Dallas first roster: backup quarterback Don Meredith, drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round (but signed with the Cowboys to a personal services contract), and backup linebacker Mike Dowdle, drafted in the 15th round by the San Francisco 49ers.  The Steelers also had a mix of veterans, with 14 of them having been drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers alone. The 30,000 fans on-hand would be treated to an exciting, high scoring game, with five touchdown passes between both teams covering 49 yards or more.The Cowboys started with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to two LeBaron touchdown passes, the first a 75-yarder on the third play from scrimmage to 10-year veteran tight end  Jim Doran, a former teammate of Layne with the Lions, and the second a 7-yarder to wide receiver Fed Dugan, who had been a backup with the San Francisco 49ers the two previous seasons.  That touchdown came right after a Frank Clarke 54-yard reception put the Cowboys deep in Pittsburgh territory. Clarke, who was a backup and came from Cleveland, eventually would retire after 1967 as the Cowboys all-time receiver.The Steelers came back, with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Layne to tight end Preston Carpenter. In the second quarter, the Cowboys increased again their lead to 14 with a Don McIlhenny’s  5-yard touchdown run. McIlhenny, the Cowboys starting running back, had come from the Green Bay Packers, and had started his NFL career with the Lions in 1956. The Steelers scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Layne to wide receiver Jimmy Orr to close the first half, with Dallas leading 21-14.In the third quarter, the Steelers tied the score, thanks to a 70-yard option pass from halfback Tom Tracy to former wide receiver Buddy Dial. Dial would lead the league in yards per reception, with a 21.6 average, and still is in the fifth all-time in that category, with a 20.8 average. But Dallas stroke on another long touchdown reception by Doran, this time a 54-yarder, to regain the lead. The Steelers came back, with the second touchdown pass from Layne to Carpenter, this time from 49 yards, to tie the score at 28. The Cowboys then advanced deep into Steelers territory, but Bert Rechichar intercepted a LeBaron pass (he would suffer two more in this game), and the game was still tied entering the fourth quarter.In the fourth quarter, the Steelers took the lead for good, with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Layne to Tracy, and got away with a 35-28 victory. Both teams threw for more than 340 yards each, and eight touchdown passes between them, and during the game Layne would pass legendary Sammy Baugh as the NFL all-time leader in yards passing. Tracy had 216 all-purpose yards, and at the end of the season was selected to the Pro Bowl and voted to the All-NFL second team. Doran, in the other hand, had 154 yards on four receptions and was the only Cowboy player selected to the 1960 Pro Bowl.The Cowboys only would rescue a tie in their penultimate game of the season against the New York Giants, and finished with an 0-11-1 record and last place in the NFL Western Conference. The Steelers, on the other hand, went on with a 5-6-1 mark and in 5th place in the NFL Eastern Conference. Two years later, the Steelers had a 9-5 mark, but finished in second place in their division and missed the playoffs, and wouldn’t play in a playoff game until 1972, in the Immaculate Reception game. The Cowboys, on the other hand, after their disastrous first season began to rebuilt and reached the NFL Championship in 1966 and 1967, then the Super Bowl in 1970 before winning it the following season. Then, as we all know, began one of the most intense rivalry between both teams in the 70’s due to Super Bowls X and XIII. Then the Cowboys got some revenge in Super Bowl XXX. Since then Dallas has only beaten the Steelers in 1997 and have lost the two most recent meetings between them (for the record, the Steelers lead the all-time regular season series 14-13, plus 2-1 in Super Bowls). Can the Cowboys tie this series? We’ll know on Sunday.
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