The Dallas Cowboys had defeated the San Francisco the NFC title in both 1970 and 1971. 1970 at San Francisco 17 to 10; 1971 at Dallas 14 to 3. In 1972 it looked like it would be different. On Thanksgiving Day, San Francisco demolished Dallas 31 to 10. The 49ers lead 14 to 10 at halftime and Dallas did nothing in the second half. Ted Kwalick, the Penn State All American, caught four passes for 68 yards.
The defense and linebacker Skip Vanderbunt were the real st0ry. The 49ers sacked Craig Morton and Roger Staubach nine times for 66 yards in loses. Skip Vanderbunt had a day that defensive players wish for. In the first quarter, Vanderbunt recovered a fumble and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. With less than three minutes remaining, he sealed the game with an interception and return 21 yards for another score. Dallas finished 10-4 to 8-5-1 for the 49ers; but this day the 49ers were clearly better.
One month later, the Cowboys went to San Francisco in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the better record the 49ers were first in the NFC West while Dallas was second to the Redskins in the NFC East. This game had some novel twists. After three quarters, the 49ers lead 28 to 13.
Keeping the game close for Dallas was Craig Morton throwing yard 27 yard touchdown pass to Lance Alworth. Then game a 27 yard field goal from Tony Frisch. For San Francisco, Vic Washington returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Larry Scieber capped three touchdown drives with 1 yard plunches. Dallas recorded five sacks for 33 yards.
Behind 28 to 30, Tom Landry inserted Roger Staubach at quarterback in the fourth quarter. There was allot of second guessing when the Cowboys kicked a field goal making the score 28 to 16. Fans thought it was too late for that The next two drives Staubach threw for touchdowns- 20 yards to Bill Parks and 10 yards to Ron Sellers. The Cowboys were really ecstatic jumping all over the bench. The crowd was quite; Dallas had beaten the Forty Niners in the playoffs for three consecutive years. Twice in the NFC Title game and now at the first round.
Often teams with great come behind victories fall flat the following week. And so with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Title game that year. They were like jelly fish going to DC. The Redskins beat them 26 to 3.
This was Roger Staubach’s first come from behind victory.