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1978 ‐ Super Bowl XII ‐ Dallas Cowboys vs Denver Broncos

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Dallas Cowboys 27
Denver Broncos 10

January 15, 1978

Super Bowl XII was played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana before a crowd of sellout 75,804. It was the first championship played inside a domed stadium. The CBS telecast was watched by over 102 million people, more viewers than any other type of show in TV history.

The NFC champion Dallas Cowboys (15-2) faced Red Miller’s AFC champion Denver Broncos (14-3). In his first year as coach, Miller led Denver to the championship on the back of its “Orange Crush” defense.

In the first quarter, Broncos quarterback Craig Morton was intercepted by Cowboy safety Randy Hughes on the Denver 25. Running back Tony Dorsett broke into the end zone on a three-yard run. When Morton was intercepted again, the Cowboys kicked a 35-yard field goal to put Dallas up, 10-0. The Cowboys extended the lead to 13-0 with a 43-yard field goal going into halftime.

Denver scored on its first second half possession with a 47-yard field goal. The Cowboys responded with a drive. Staubach connected with receiver Butch Johnson on a diving 45-yard touchdown pass to make the score 20-3.

The Broncos rallied when returner Rick Upchurch ran the ball 67 yards to Dallas’ 26-yard line. Reserve quarterback Norris Weese replaced Morton, who nearly threw a fifth interception. Running back Rob Lytle crossed the goal line on a one-yard run to bring Denver to within 20-10.

Dallas clinched the victory in the fourth quarter with an option play. Fullback Robert Newhouse passed to receiver Golden Richards for a 29-yard touchdown with 7:04 left.

Defensive tackle Harvey Martin and defensive end Randy White won MVP honors, the first and only time two players were awarded. It was also the first time a defensive lineman was selected.

The Cowboys defense was dominant, recovering four fumbles, intercepting four passes, and holding the Broncos to 8 pass completions for 61 yards. Dallas’s win was the NFC’s first in six years.

Around the World on January 15:

  • The body of former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who died from cancer, lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

Around the NFL in 1978:

  • January 19 – A Louis Harris Sports Survey reported 70% of sports fans followed football and 54% percent followed baseball.
  • March 14 – The side judge, a seventh official, was added to the officiating crew.
  • March 17 – The NFL passed more rule changes to open up the game, restricting defenders from contacting receivers beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage and the pass-blocking rule was interpreted to allow the extension of arms and open hands.
  • August – The NFL studied the use of instant replay in preseason games.
  • August 5 – The Saints beat the Eagles 14-7 in a preseason game in Mexico City, the first game played in Mexico.
  • December – With the regular season expanded from 14 to 16 weeks, attendance exceeded 12 million for the first time.

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