NFC East: Russell Maryland
Dallas sent 11 players to the Pro Bowl after the season, and they could’ve had a few more on defense. If not for Smith’s holdout, this was the type of team that might have made a run at a perfect season. The Triplets were unstoppable, and the Cowboys had perhaps the best offensive line in the league. The Roger Staubach teams of the '70s were formidable, but I just don’t think they were as deep as Johnson’s teams of the early '90s.
The Doomsday defense from the late '70s trumps the defense from the early '90s, but the Triplets surpassed what Staubach, Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson accomplished.
Most impressive win: It’s too easy to say the Super Bowl, so give me the overtime victory in the Meadowlands over the Giants to end the regular season. The win gave the Cowboys the division title and a wild-card bye week. In that 16-13 win, Smith had one of the best individual efforts in club history. Playing with a separated shoulder, he rushed for 168 yards and caught 10 passes.
Best player: How can you not go with the guy who won the NFL’s MVP award, the Super Bowl MVP and the rushing title in the same season? Let’s go with Emmitt.
1977: The Super Bowl champions were dominant on both sides of the ball. Dallas began the season 8-0. The Broncos didn’t belong on same field in the Super Bowl. Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin and Randy “Manster” White put the “Doom” in Doomsday.
1992: You almost forget how Jimmy Johnson could send waves of pass-rushers at quarterbacks. Tony Tolbert had more sacks than Haley in ’92. And Maryland and Leon Lett were just beginning to figure things out. The collection of talent was remarkable. The Triplets truly began to impose their will on opponents.
1971: Some of the great defensive players from the early days -- Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan -- finally got their championship. The offense scored 29 points per game and the Cowboys won by an average of 13.1 points per game.
As you're sitting around tonight watching an Orange Bowl that features two suspect teams, ask your buddies the following trivia question: Can you name the four players in NFL history who started a playoff game in the same season that were drafted No. 1 overall?
Hint: One of them played in the NFC East, which makes this blog entry semi-relevant.
- Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers, 1978
- Kenneth Sims, New England Patriots, 1982
- Russell Maryland, Dallas Cowboys, 1991
- Jake Long, Miami Dolphins, 2008 (when he starts against the Ravens)
Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis