Super Bowl XII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1977 season. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27–10 to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 15, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. This was the first time that the Super Bowl was played in a domed stadium, and the first time that the game was played in prime time in the Eastern United States.
The game pitted Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach against their former quarterback, Craig Morton. Led by Staubach and the Doomsday Defense, Dallas advanced to its fourth Super Bowl after posting a 12–2 regular season record and playoff victories over the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. The Broncos, led by Morton and the Orange Crush Defense, made their first Super Bowl appearance after also posting a 12–2 regular-season record and postseason wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders.
The Cowboys defense dominated most of Super Bowl XII, forcing eight turnovers and allowing only eight pass completions by the Broncos for just 61 yards. Two interceptions led to 10 first-quarter points. Denver's longest play of the game was just 21 yards, which occurred on their opening drive. Dallas expanded its lead to 20–3 in the third quarter after wide receiver Butch Johnson made a diving catch in the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown reception. An ineffective Morton was replaced by Norris Weese late in the third period. He promptly drove the Broncos downfield to score a touchdown to cut the lead to 20-10, capped by a Rob Lytle one-yard touchdown run. But the Cowboys put the game out of reach in the fourth when fullback Robert Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option play to receiver Golden Richards.
For the first and only time, two players won Super Bowl MVP honors: defensive tackle Randy White and defensive end Harvey Martin. This was also the first time that a defensive lineman was named Super Bowl MVP.
|Super Bowl XII|
|Date||January 15, 1978|
|Stadium||Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|MVP||Randy White, defensive tackle; and Harvey Martin, defensive end|
|Favorite||Cowboys by 6|
|Current/Future Hall of Famers|
|Cowboys: Tex Schramm (team administrator), Gil Brandt (team administrator), Tom Landry (coach), Mike Ditka‡ (asst. coach), Tony Dorsett, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Randy White, Rayfield Wright‡ elected as a player.|
|National anthem||Phyllis Kelly of Northeast Louisiana University|
|Coin toss||Red Grange|
|Halftime show||"From Paris to the Paris of America" with the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles, Pete Fountain, and Al Hirt|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier|
|Nielsen ratings||47.2 |
(est. 78.94 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$162,000|
The NFL awarded Super Bowl XII to New Orleans on March 16, 1976 at the NFL owners meetings held in San Diego.  It would be the first of seven Super Bowls (as of 2017) to be played in the Superdome, though it was not the first one scheduled in the Superdome; Super Bowl IX was scheduled to be played there, but construction delays forced it to be played at Tulane Stadium.
The main storyline surrounding Super Bowl XII was Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach versus Broncos quarterback Craig Morton. Morton began his career playing for Dallas in 1965. Staubach joined the Cowboys in 1969 after spending 4 years of service in the United States Navy, and soon both quarterbacks competed for the starting job. During the 1970 season, both Morton and Staubach started for about half of the regular season games. Morton was ultimately selected to lead the team through the playoffs and eventually to their Super Bowl V loss to the Baltimore Colts, 16–13. The next year, Staubach won the starting job and eventually led Dallas to defeat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, 24–3. Staubach was also named Super Bowl MVP during that game. In 1972, Morton started most of the Cowboys' games as Staubach was out with a separated shoulder. However, in the division playoffs against San Francisco, Staubach relieved Morton and led the team to a come-from-behind victory, which assured Staubach of the starting job going forward. Morton was relegated to backup status until he left the team in 1974 to join the New York Giants.
After spending three years with the Giants, Morton became the starting quarterback for the Broncos, a franchise with a dismal history. It had taken them 14 years (1960–1973) to record their first winning season and they had never once made the playoffs. But under the leadership of the newly arrived Morton and their new coach Red Miller, Denver finished 1977 with a 12–2 record and earned the #1 seed in the AFC.
Morton did not put up a large number of passing yards (1,929) during the regular season, but he threw 14 touchdown passes and only 8 interceptions, while also rushing for 125 yards and 4 touchdowns, earning him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Denver tight end Riley Odoms was his main target, with 37 receptions for 429 yards. Wide receiver Haven Moses was also a major deep threat, catching 27 passes for 539 yards, an average of 20 yards per catch. However, the Broncos main offensive strength was their rushing game. Denver had 3 running backs, Otis Armstrong, Lonnie Perrin, and Rob Lytle, who carried the ball equally, combining for 1,353 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. On special teams, multi-talented wide receiver Rick Upchurch led the NFL with 653 punt return yards, while also catching 12 passes for 245 yards and recording 456 yards returning kickoffs.
The backbone of the Broncos was their defense, a unit known as the "Orange Crush", which used a 3–4 formation anchored by four superb linebackers, including Randy Gradishar (3 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries) and Tom Jackson (4 interceptions, 93 return yards, 1 touchdown). Defensive End Lyle Alzado anchored the line, while their secondary was led by defensive backs Bill Thompson (who recorded 5 interceptions) and Louis Wright (who had 3 interceptions). The Broncos defense had given up just 148 points during the season, an average of just 10.6 per game and the 3rd-fewest in the NFL.
Staubach threw for 2,620 yards and 18 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions, while also gaining 171 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. Wide receiver Drew Pearson was the leading receiver on the team with 48 receptions for 870 yards, while Pro Bowl tight end Billy Joe DuPree recorded 28 receptions for 347 yards and provided blocking support on running plays.
The Cowboys also had a new weapon on offense: rookie running back Tony Dorsett, the previous year's Heisman Trophy winner. Despite not becoming a full-time starter until the tenth game of the regular season, Dorsett led the team in rushing with 1,007 yards, scored 13 total touchdowns, and was the team's third leading receiver with 29 receptions for another 273 yards. Veteran fullback Robert Newhouse provided Dorsett with blocking, and was the team's second leading rusher with 721 yards, while also catching 16 passes for another 106 yards. Running back Preston Pearson contributed 341 yards rushing, caught 46 passes for 535 yards, and scored 5 touchdowns. The Cowboys' offensive line was led by All-Pro tackle Rayfield Wright.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys' Doomsday Defense remained in the superb form that helped lead the Cowboys' Super Bowl X appearance. Their defensive line consisted of Harvey Martin (who recorded 23 sacks), Jethro Pugh, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Randy White. Behind them, the Cowboys had a trio of linebackers, Thomas Henderson (3 interceptions), D.D. Lewis, and Bob Breunig, who provided pass coverage and run stoppage. Dallas also had a secondary led by future Hall of Famer Mel Renfro and safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters.
The Cowboys earned their second trip to the Super Bowl in three years by defeating the Chicago Bears, 37–7, and the Minnesota Vikings, 23–6, in the playoffs. Their "Doomsday Defense" proved as dominant as ever in those two games, forcing 7 turnovers against Chicago and 4 against the Vikings.
Meanwhile, the Broncos earned their first ever trip to the Super Bowl in team history by defeating the two previous league champions: the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34–21, and the Oakland Raiders, 20–17, in the playoffs. This made Morton the first quarterback to start a Super Bowl game for two different franchises (Kurt Warner was the second with St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, and Peyton Manning was the third with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos). Morton is also the only quarterback to have started two different franchises' first Super Bowl appearances.
This was the final Super Bowl in the 14-game schedule era. The following season, the NFL went to a 16-game schedule, where it has remained since.
Super Bowl XII provided an opportunity for Morton to not only beat his former team, but also to redeem himself for his Super Bowl V loss and the loss of his starting job to Staubach. For Staubach, he had a chance to win his second Super Bowl and defeat his old rival, showing that he truly was the better quarterback of the two.
Tony Dorsett became the first football player in history to win an NCAA National Championship one year (with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers) and a Super Bowl the next. Dorsett won both championships in the same building; Pitt clinched the 1976 national championship by defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1977.
Dallas was the only NFC team to win the Super Bowl in the 1970s (although both Baltimore and Pittsburgh were pre-merger NFL teams). Both Cowboy victories in the decade came in New Orleans against teams making their first Super Bowl appearance.
This was the first Super Bowl between two teams who had met in regular season play. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 14–6 on the final Sunday of the regular season at Texas Stadium. Both teams' starters saw limited action in that contest, since both squads had already clinched their respective division championships and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Denver was 12–1 and Dallas 11–2 prior to the Dec 18 matchup. It was the first of only two times that two teams have played each other in the Super Bowl after playing on the final weekend of the regular season (the New York Giants and New England Patriots played in the final week of the 2007 regular season and met again in Super Bowl XLII). Under NFL scheduling rules put in place by Commissioner Roger Goodell prior to the 2010 season, the Super Bowl participants will no longer be able to play each other on the final weekend of the regular season, since all games on the final weekend now match division opponents.
This was the first Super Bowl to feature arrow markers every ten yards, beginning at the 10 yard line, to indicate the direction of the nearest goal line, which were first used at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium in 1973. They became mandatory league-wide the following season in 1978.
The game, the first Super Bowl to be played in prime time, was broadcast in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator Tom Brookshier. The game kicked off at 5:17 p.m. Central Standard Time. Hosting the coverage was The NFL Today hosts Brent Musburger; Irv Cross; Phyllis George (in the last game of her first stint on the NFL Today before leaving to host the short-lived People the following season). Also contributing were Hank Stram (who had recently been fired by the New Orleans Saints); Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder; Sonny Jurgensen (working on CBS Radio coverage); Gary Bender; Paul Hornung; Nick Buoniconti and Jack Whitaker. Buoniconti and Hornung served as sideline reporters; with Hornung doing postgame interviews in the Broncos' locker room; while Bender covered the trophy presentation in the Cowboy locker room.
An interesting aspect was the use of what was called an Electronic Palette graphics system (created by CBS and Ampex) for a painting-like aspect to several visual graphics; such as the game intro, starting lineups and bumpers going into or coming out of a commercial break. CBS would also unveil what was known as the "Action Track"; showing the trail of a football that had been kicked during replays. Also, when the planned lead-in (the Phoenix Open golf tournament) was halted due to poor weather, CBS Sports president Robert Wussler (in New York) and producer Barry Frank (at the Superdome) ended up filling the time period with an impromptu look at how the game would be produced.
This game was featured in the All in the Family episode "Superbowl Sunday". Archie Bunker rented a big screen TV at his bar "Archie's Place" and sold ham sandwiches for $1.50. Later, two crooks (who were incognito throughout the episode) steal from and humiliate the patrons, following the end of the game. Also, clips of some of the Cowboys' scoring plays were used to accompany the opening credits of the 1979 TV movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Additional clips of this game also appeared in the NFL's Greatest Games episode Doomsday at the Dome.
For the first time in a Super Bowl, someone other than the game's referee tossed the coin. Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Red Grange participated in the coin toss ceremony. Prior to 1976, the official coin toss was held 30 minutes prior to kickoff and was re-enacted three minutes prior to kickoff to inform the television audience and spectators in the stadium of the outcome.
The halftime show was "From Paris to Paris of America" featuring performances by the Apache Band and Apache Belles Drill team from Tyler Junior College, clarinetist Pete Fountain, and trumpeter Al Hirt.
The opening stages of Super Bowl XII were nearly disastrous for the Cowboys, who fumbled three times on their first two possessions. On their very first play from scrimmage, the Cowboys attempted a double reverse, but receiver Butch Johnson fumbled the handoff. Johnson recovered his own fumble but the Cowboys sustained a significant loss on the play and punted two plays later. The Broncos then advanced to the Cowboys' 33-yard line on their first drive of the game. However, Broncos quarterback Craig Morton was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third down by Randy White, which pushed the Broncos out of field goal range. On the ensuing Denver punt, Cowboys returner Tony Hill muffed the ball at his own 1-yard line. In the scramble to recover, Broncos receiver John Schultz placed both of his hands on the ball and nearly took possession, but the Cowboys emerged from the melee with the ball. A few plays later, from the 19-yard line, Dallas running back Tony Dorsett fumbled the ball forward into heavy traffic, but center John Fitzgerald made the recovery to keep possession for the Cowboys, who then punted.
On the Broncos second possession, Cowboys defensive linemen White and Harvey Martin simultaneously hit Morton as he attempted to throw, which resulted in a wobbly pass that failed to cross the line of scrimmage and was intercepted by defensive back Randy Hughes. Five plays after the turnover, Dorsett scored on a 3-yard touchdown run, converting on a fourth and goal attempt. On the Broncos next possession, Morton was intercepted for a second time after his pass was tipped by linebacker Bob Breunig into the arms of defensive back Aaron Kyle, who returned the ball 19 yards to Denver's 35-yard line. Dallas then advanced to the 8-yard line, but Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach was sacked by Lyle Alzado for a 10-yard loss on third down, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a 35-yard Efren Herrera field goal to increase their lead to 10–0.
Denver was forced to punt to begin the second quarter, and Dallas then advanced to the Broncos' 19-yard line. On third down, Staubach unleashed a pass that was intercepted in the end zone; however, the officials ruled that he had stepped out of bounds before he threw the ball. On the next play, Herrera successfully added a 43-yard field goal to increase the Cowboys' lead to 13–0. The rest of the quarter was filled with an avalanche of sloppy play, turnovers, and missed opportunities. On the second play of the next Denver drive, Morton unleashed an errant pass for his third interception, this time by defensive back Benny Barnes at the Cowboys' 40-yard line. The Denver defense immediately stiffened, sacking Staubach for a fourth time and forcing a three-and-out and a punt. However, the punt struck an unsuspecting Denver player, John Schultz, on his helmet as he attempted to throw a block during the return, and the ball was quickly recovered by the Cowboys' Bruce Huther.
The Cowboys then advanced to the 26-yard line, but Herrera pulled his 43-yard field goal attempt wide left, keeping the score 13-0. On the following drive the Broncos committed their fifth turnover as wide receiver Jack Dolbin fumbled, with the Cowboys returning the ball to the Denver 27-yard line. However, the Cowboys failed to score as Herrera missed another field goal, this time from only 32 yards out. On the first play after that missed attempt, Denver wasted no time in giving the ball away again, as tight end Riley Odoms fumbled the ball back to Dallas at the 28-yard line. However, on the next play, Dallas gave the ball right back to Denver as tight end Billy Joe DuPree caught a pass inside the 10-yard line but fumbled, with Denver linebacker Tom Jackson making the recovery. Five plays later, with the Broncos desperate to score before the half, Morton uncorked yet another errant pass that was intercepted by defensive back Mark Washington who returned the ball 27 yards to Denver's 35-yard line. There were 6 seconds remaining on the clock after the interception, but Dallas couldn't capitalize as Herrera missed yet another field goal attempt, his third miss of the half, this time from 44 yards out as time expired.
By halftime, the Cowboys had fumbled five times (losing one), had missed three field goals, and had allowed four sacks, but still led 13-0. Meanwhile, the Broncos had committed a halftime record 7 turnovers. Morton, who had thrown only 8 interceptions during the entire 1977 season, was picked off 4 times in the half in addition to 3 fumbles lost, finishing with a passer rating of 0.0. Incredibly, after punting on their very first drive of the game, six of the next seven Broncos possessions resulted in a turnover, and there also was a fumble on a punt return.
Denver trailed by only 13 points as the second half began, and on the opening drive of the second half, the Broncos moved the ball deep into Dallas territory. First, John Schultz returned the second half kickoff 25 yards to the 35-yard line, and then Otis Armstrong ripped off an 18-yard gain. Seven plays later, Jim Turner finished the drive with a 47-yard field goal, cutting the score to 13–3. But later in the period, the Cowboys scored another touchdown on a 45-yard pass from Staubach to receiver Butch Johnson, who made a fingertip catch as he fell into the end zone as the Cowboys increased their lead to 20–3. Johnson dropped the ball when he hit the ground, but officials ruled he had scored a touchdown before it came out of his hands.
Denver wide receiver Rick Upchurch returned the ensuing kickoff a Super Bowl-record 67 yards to the Cowboys 26-yard line. On the next play, Morton nearly threw his fifth interception, and was then immediately replaced by former Ole Miss quarterback Norris Weese. Two plays later on fourth down, Jim Jensen's 16-yard run moved the ball to the 1-yard line, and then Rob Lytle scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 20–10.
Next, Dallas drove into Denver territory but Staubach was sacked by Tom Jackson and lost the ball, Rubin Carter recovering at the Broncos' 45 early in the fourth quarter. Weese was incomplete on his next three attempts, however, one on a pass to Upchurch in the end zone, and Denver punted.
The Broncos forced a Dallas punt but Weese fumbled the ball while being sacked by Martin, and Kyle recovered it on the Denver 29-yard line. On the next play, the Cowboys scored on a 29-yard halfback option play: Staubach pitched the ball to fullback Robert Newhouse, who ran left and then threw a pass to back-up receiver Golden Richards for a touchdown. The score gave the Cowboys a 27–10 lead and put the game out of reach. Newhouse became the first running back in Super Bowl history to complete a touchdown pass. Most notable about the trick play was that Denver's defense was not fooled by it. Richards was properly covered by defensive back Steve Foley, but was still able to make the catch.
Staubach finished the game with 17 out of 25 pass completions for 183 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Dorsett was the leading rusher of the game, with 66 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught 2 passes for 11 receiving yards. In addition to his 29-yard touchdown pass, Newhouse also contributed with 55 rushing yards. Dallas tight end Billy Joe DuPree was the leading receiver of the game with 4 receptions for 66 yards. Hughes had an interception and a Super Bowl record 2 fumble recoveries.
Before being taken out of the game, Denver's starting quarterback Craig Morton completed just 4 out of 15 passes for 39 yards and was intercepted 4 times. His 21-yard completion to Haven Moses on the Broncos' opening drive was the only pass he completed that both resulted in positive yardage and did not end in a turnover. Morton's passer rating for the game was 0.0, the lowest in Super Bowl history. Upchurch recorded 125 total offensive yards (94 on kickoff returns, 22 on punt returns, and 9 receiving yards).
The Cowboys' superb defense played a critical role in the game. White and Martin were named co-Most Valuable Players; this award is usually bestowed on an offensive player. The voters actually wanted to name the entire 11-man starting defensive lineup as co-MVPs, and asked the NFL if this was acceptable. The league said no, and so two players were picked for the award. The unheralded Hughes and Kyle of the Cowboy secondary each had superb games to play an important role in the victory. The two men came up with five turnovers between them, leading directly to 17 of Dallas' points.
The game was the 8th Super Bowl in 10 years in which the winning team scored enough to win before the losing team put up any points on the board. By contrast, this has happened only twice in the last 34 Super Bowls.
In 2015, on the occasion of Super Bowl 50, Slate webpage writer Justin Peters watched all the games over a two-month period. He considered Super Bowl XII to be the worst Super Bowl ever. Morton was a large part of the reason for Peters, who felt the Broncos' quarterback was lucky to have only been intercepted four times in the first half, and a total output that amounted to only one completion for positive yardage that was not followed by an immediate turnover. Nor had the Cowboys impressed him, in large part due to Herrera's missed field goals in the second quarter. "Blowouts can at least be fun to watch sometimes", he concluded. "This game was nothing but pain."
|Dallas Cowboys||Denver Broncos|
|First downs rushing||8||8|
|First downs passing||8||1|
|First downs penalty||1||2|
|Third down efficiency||5/17||1/12|
|Fourth down efficiency||1/1||2/3|
|Net yards rushing||143||121|
|Yards per rush||3.8||4.2|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||19/28||8/25|
|Times sacked-total yards||5–35||4–26|
|Net yards passing||182||35|
|Total net yards||325||156|
|Punt returns-total yards||1–0||4–22|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||3–51||6–173|
|Interceptions-total return yards||4–46||0–0|
|Time of possession||38:38||21:22|
|Billy Joe DuPree||4||66||0||19||5|
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted
The following records were set in Super Bowl XII, according to the official NFL.com boxscore and the ProFootball reference.com game summary.
Some records have to meet NFL minimum number of attempts to be recognized. The minimums are shown (in parenthesis).
|Player Records Set |
|Most passing yards, career||506 yds||Roger Staubach|
|Most touchdown passes, career||5|
percentage, career, (40 attempts)
|Most interceptions thrown, game||4||Craig Morton|
|Most interceptions thrown, career||7|
|Most fumbles, career||4||Roger Staubach|
|Longest kickoff return||67 yds||Rick Upchurch(Den)|
|Most kickoff return yards, game||94 yds|
|Highest kickoff return average, game (3 returns)||31.3 yds (3-94)|
|Most field goals attempted, career||6||Jim Turner(Den)|
|Most fumbles recovered, game||2||Randy Hughes(Dal) |
|Most fumbles recovered, career||2||John Fitzgerald(Dal) |
|Most field goals attempted, game||5||Efren Herrera(Dal)|
|Most field goals made, career||4||Jim Turner|
|Most 40-plus yard field goals, game||1||Efren Herrera |
|Team Records Set |
|Lowest completion percentage
|Fewest yards passing (net)||35 yds|
|Lowest average yards gained
per pass attempt
|Fewest first downs passing||1||Broncos|
|Most fumbles, game||6||Cowboys|
|Most fumbles recovered, game||8|
|Most turnovers, game||8||Broncos|
|Most yards gained, game||173 yds||Broncos|
|Highest average gain,
game (3 returns)
|Most penalties, game||12||Cowboys|
|Most Super Bowl appearances||4||Cowboys|
|Most Super Bowl victories||2|
|Most passing touchdowns||2|
|Most field goals attempted||5|
|Most Interceptions by||4|
|Fewest points, first half||0 pts||Broncos|
|Fewest passing touchdowns||0|
|Most fumbles lost, game||4|
Turnovers are defined as the number of times losing the ball on interceptions and fumbles.
|Records Set, both team totals |
|Most points, third quarter||17 pts||7||10|
|Fewest first downs, passing||9||8||1|
|Most fumbles lost||6||2||4|
|Most yards gained||224 yds||51||173|
|Most penalties, game||20||12||8|
|Most times sacked||9||5||4|
|Butch Johnson||WR||Jack Dolbin|
|Ralph Neely||LT||Andy Maurer|
|Herbert Scott||LG||Tom Glassic|
|John Fitzgerald||C||Mike Montler|
|Tom Rafferty||RG||Paul Howard|
|Pat Donovan||RT||Claudie Minor|
|Billy Joe DuPree||TE||Riley Odoms|
|Drew Pearson||WR||Haven Moses|
|Roger Staubach‡||QB||Craig Morton|
|Tony Dorsett‡||RB||Otis Armstrong|
|Robert Newhouse||FB||Jon Keyworth|
|Ed Jones||LE||Barney Chavous|
|Jethro Pugh||LT||NT||Rubin Carter|
|Randy White‡||RT||RE||Lyle Alzado|
|Harvey Martin||RE||LLB||Bob Swenson|
|Thomas Henderson||LLB||Joe Rizzo|
|Bob Breunig||MLB||RLB||Randy Gradishar|
|D.D. Lewis||RLB||Tom Jackson|
|Benny Barnes||LCB||Louis Wright|
|Aaron Kyle||RCB||Steve Foley|
|Charlie Waters||SS||Bill Thompson|
|Cliff Harris||FS||Bernard Jackson|
Note: A seven-official system was not used until the following season
Jim Tunney was the only referee to work consecutive Super Bowls. The NFL now prohibits referees from working Super Bowls in consecutive seasons (a referee can be an alternate the season following an on-field assignment), although officials at other positions can do so.
This was the first Super Bowl in which all officials had previously called one.
Five of the six officials—all except Veteri—previously worked a Super Bowl in New Orleans. Of those five, only Douglas was not on the crew for Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium.
The 1977 Dallas Cowboys season was their 18th in the NFL. The club appeared twice on Monday Night Football. Tony Dorsett rushed for 1,007 yards and became the second member of the Cowboys (first since 1973) to have a 1,000-yard rushing season. During the season, the club scored 345 points, which ranked first in the NFC, while the defense only gave up 212 points. The Cowboys made it to their fourth Super Bowl and beat the Denver Broncos to capture their second Super Bowl Championship. They were the first team from the NFC East Division to win two Super Bowls. Their 15-2 record (.882, including the postseason) remains the highest single season winning percentage in team history.1977 Denver Broncos season
The 1977 Denver Broncos season was the team's 18th year in professional football and its eighth with the National Football League (NFL).
The team had by far its best season to date, finishing first in the AFC West and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Broncos won the first two playoff games in franchise history (over perennial AFC powerhouses Pittsburgh and Oakland) and won their first AFC Championship, earning a berth in Super Bowl XII, where they fell to the NFC champion Dallas Cowboys, 27–10.
Still, 1977 was a major leap for the Broncos, who had never won more than nine games in a season. Coach Red Miller — in his first season as the Broncos' head coach — was named NFL Coach of the Year, and quarterback Craig Morton was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Denver's 1977 season is chronicled in Terry Frei's 2008 book, '77: Denver, the Broncos and a Coming of Age.1977 NFL season
The 1977 NFL season was the 58th regular season of the National Football League. The Seattle Seahawks were placed in the AFC West while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were slotted into the NFC Central.
Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Miami Dolphins at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This would be only the second season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday. It marked the last time that the Cowboys did not play on Thanksgiving.
This was the last NFL regular season with 14 games. The regular season was expanded to 16 games in 1978, with the preseason reduced from six games to four. It was also the final season of the eight-team playoff field in the NFL, before going to ten the following season.
The 1977 season is considered the last season of the “Dead Ball Era” of professional football (1970 to 1977). The 17.2 average points scored per team per game was the lowest since 1942. For 1978, the league made significant changes to allow greater offensive production.The season ended with Super Bowl XII when the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos.1977–78 NFL playoffs
The National Football League playoffs for the 1977 season began on December 24, 1977. The postseason tournament concluded with the Dallas Cowboys defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, 27–10, on January 15, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Due to Christmas, the Divisional playoff games were held in a span of three days. The AFC playoff games were played on Saturday December 24 while the NFC games were held on Monday, December 26. It also marked the only year since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970 that one conference held both of its divisional playoff games on one day and the other conference held both of its games on the other day. In every other season since 1970, the conferences have split their playoff games over the two days.
This was also the last season that the NFL used an eight-team playoff tournament.Andy Maurer
Andrew Lee Maurer (September 30, 1948 – January 3, 2016) was an American football offensive lineman in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and the Denver Broncos. He played in Super Bowl IX as a member of the Vikings and Super Bowl XII as a member of the Broncos. He appeared in 109 regular season games, starting 84 of them. Additionally, he started all seven playoff games he appeared in. Maurer played college football at the University of Oregon.Maurer served as head football coach at Cascade Christian High School in Medford, Oregon, from 1992-2010. He died of cancer on January 3, 2016 at the age of 67.Bernard Jackson (defensive back)
Bernard Frank Jackson (born August 24, 1950 – May 26, 1997) was an American football defensive back who played for three National Football League teams. He was the 81st pick in the 1972 NFL draft, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as a defensive back. After five years, he was traded to the Denver Broncos in March 1977, and was a starter, including Super Bowl XII.Bob Swenson
Robert Charles Swenson (born July 1, 1953, in Stockton, California) played college football for the University of California. He joined the National Football League in 1975 as an undrafted free agent and played professional football as a linebacker for the Denver Broncos. Commenting on the draft for Sports Illustrated in 1978, Swenson said that "The draft is bull,... The scouts for most of the teams are 100 years old, and most of them don't know what they're doing. I went to school at Berkeley, and most of the NFL scouts think the students are still rioting in the streets out there. They didn't want to look at me."1
Swenson's career spanned eight seasons, from 1975 through 1983. Swenson missed the 1980 season due to an injury. Swenson was part of the famed Orange Crush Defense that propelled the Broncos to Super Bowl XII in January 1978, at the end of the 1977 season. He was elected to the Pro Bowl after the 1981 season.Bob Wortman
Robert Vincent "Bob" Wortman (December 3, 1927 – October 20, 2015) was a collegiate athlete at the University of Findlay, Ohio, where he played basketball and football. He went on to be a field judge in the American Football League from 1965 through 1969, and in the NFL starting in 1970 through 1992. He was also an NCAA college basketball referee, and the first person to officiate both in a Super Bowl (VI, 1972) and an NCAA Championship game (1976). He also officiated in Super Bowl XII. He wore number 84 for most of his Professional Football career.Bucky Dilts
Douglas Riggs "Bucky" Dilts is a former punter for three years in the National Football League. He played in Super Bowl XII for the Denver Broncos.Butch Johnson (American football)
Michael "Butch" McColly Johnson (born May 28, 1954) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He played college football at the University of California, Riverside and was drafted in the third round (87th overall) of the 1976 NFL Draft.Cal Lepore
Cal Lepore (1919—December 7, 2002) was an American football line judge and referee. He officiated in the American Football League (AFL) from 1966 through 1969, and then in the National Football League (NFL) from 1970 through 1980. He worked Super Bowl III, won by the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts, after the 1968 season. He also officiated in Super Bowl XII, and as replay official in Super Bowl XXVI. Lepore wore no. 72 for the vast majority of his career (he wore no. 5 in his final two seasons). He was the supervisor of officials in the United States Football League (USFL) and the World League of American Football, later named NFL Europe.
Lepore is credited with promulgating the use of instant replay as an officiating tool, as well as urging the use of coaches' challenges in professional football. The NFL adopted nearly all of the components of the Replay Rule he authored and first administered in mid-1980s in the USFL. Referee Magazine has considered him one of the most influential officials in the history of sports.Lepore was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Harper High School there.Dirty Dozen (American football)
The Dirty Dozen were the rookies that made the Dallas Cowboys team in 1975. These players were credited with helping the Cowboys advance to Super Bowl X and was a key foundation of the team's success during the latter half of the 1970s going into the early 1980s, as by 1979 many of these players would have replaced many of the Cowboys' aging starters of the 1960s. The rookies came up with the nickname inspired by the film of the same name, and spent half of the season without shaving.Gerald Phipps
Gerald Phipps (March 4, 1915 – August 6, 1993) was a businessman, President of Gerald H. Phipps, Inc., a construction company, and owner of the Denver Broncos American football club from 1961 to 1981.Phipps and Cal Kunz purchased the Broncos from founder Bob Howsam in May 1961. Phipps was chairman of the National Football League Finance Committee from 1970 to 1981. During Phipps's tenure as owner, the Broncos earned their first trip to the Super Bowl (in 1978) participating in Super Bowl XII and saw a significant rise in Denver Broncos popularity, called "Broncomania". In 1985, Phipps became the first non-player to be inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame. He is also a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.Phipps was also the owner of the Denver Bears minor league baseball team. He was a director of Rocky Mountain Empire Sports Inc., which owned the Denver Bears minor league baseball team from 1947 to 1984 Gerald Phipps graduated with a BA in English from Williams College. He and his brother Allan were inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame.Jim Turner (placekicker)
James Bayard Turner (born March 28, 1941) is a former American football player. A quarterback and placekicker, he played college football for Utah State University and was signed as a free agent in 1964 by the American Football League's New York Jets head coach Weeb Ewbank. "Tank" kicked a then record 145 points in the 1968 regular season, with a professional football record 34 field goals. Turner kicked for nine points in the AFL Championship game win over the Oakland Raiders, and ten points in the Jets's 16-7 defeat of the Baltimore Colts in the Third World Championship of Professional Football, Super Bowl III.The last of Turner's three field goals in Super Bowl III was for 9 yards, the shortest in Super Bowl history. At that time, the goal posts were located at the front of the end zones. They have since been moved to the back, so it's no longer possible to kick a field goal from this short a distance. Mike Clark of the Dallas Cowboys tied Turner's record for the shortest Super Bowl field goal in Super Bowl VI.In the locker room after the game, on national television (NBC-TV), Turner shouted "Welcome to the AFL !"
Following the AFL-NFL merger, Turner also played with the Denver Broncos for another nine seasons and kicked four points in a losing effort in Super Bowl XII against the Dallas Cowboys, connecting on a 47-yard field goal and an extra point following a 5-yard touchdown run by Rob Lytle. He was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1988.Turner finished his career with 304 of 488 (62%) field goals and 521 of 534 extra points, giving him 1,439 total points.List of Super Bowl halftime shows
Halftime shows are a tradition during American football games at all levels of competition. Entertainment during the Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), represents a fundamental link to pop culture, which helps broaden the television audience and nationwide interest. As the Super Bowl itself is typically the most-watched event on television in the United States annually, the halftime show has been equally-viewed in recent years: the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIX featuring Katy Perry was viewed by 118.5 million, as part of an overall telecast that peaked at 120.3 million at its conclusion—the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. The NFL announced that the Super Bowl LI halftime show, with Lady Gaga was the "most-watched musical event of all-time," citing a figure of 150 million viewers based on the television audience, as well as unique viewership of video postings of the halftime show on the league's platforms, and social media interactions (a metric that was never calculated prior to 2017). The show was seen by 117.5 million television viewers, making it the second-highest-rated halftime show on network broadcast.Prior to the early 1990s, the halftime show was based around a theme, and featured university marching bands (the Grambling State University Marching Band has performed at the most Super Bowl halftime shows, featuring in six shows including at least one per decade from the 1960s to the 1990s), drill teams, and other performance ensembles such as Up with People. Beginning in 1991, the halftime show began to feature pop music acts such as New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan. In an effort to boost the prominence of the halftime show to increase viewer interest, Super Bowl XXVII featured a headlining performance by Michael Jackson. After Super Bowl XXXVIII, whose halftime show featured an incident where Justin Timberlake exposed one of Janet Jackson's breasts, the halftime show began to feature classic rock acts until the return of headlining pop musicians in 2011.Lonnie Perrin
Lonnie Perrin (born February 3, 1952) is a former American football running back in the National Football League for the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears, and the Washington Redskins. He played college football at the University of Illinois and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1976 NFL Draft. He played in Super Bowl XII with the Broncos.Norris Weese
Norris Lee Weese (August 12, 1951 – January 20, 1995) was a star quarterback for Chalmette High School and the University of Mississippi. He had the unenviable task of succeeding Mississippi QB legend Archie Manning, but performed well in the key position.
Recalling the November 4, 1972 game in Baton Rouge in which Ole Miss lost to Louisiana State University, 17-16, because of a unique touchdown catch from quarterback Bert Jones to LSU running back Brad Davis, Weese said Tiger Stadium "just exploded with thousands of fans jumping high in the night air." Until that point the Rebels had outplayed LSU all night long.Weese played the 1974 season for The Hawaiians in the World Football League before joining the NFL. He spent four seasons in the NFL playing for the Denver Broncos (1976-1979), mostly as a backup quarterback.
In Super Bowl XII against the Dallas Cowboys, where his famed high school head coach Bobby Nuss held the chains, Weese replaced starter Craig Morton in the third quarter after Morton nearly threw his 5th interception. Weese led the Broncos to a touchdown on the drive to cut his team's deficit to 20-10, but he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter, setting up a Dallas touchdown that put the game away. He was known for being a mobile QB.
Weese was named starting quarterback for the Broncos in 1979, but a knee injury that year ended his NFL career. He finished his career with 1887 passing yards, seven touchdowns and fourteen interceptions.
Weese went on to become a certified public accountant in Denver, Colorado.
Norris Weese died on January 20, 1995, of bone cancer.To this day, Weese holds the record for most single game rushing yards as a quarterback in Broncos history, rushing for 120 yards on 12 carries against the Chicago Bears on December 12, 1976.Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award
The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, or Super Bowl MVP, is presented annually to the most valuable player of the Super Bowl, the National Football League's (NFL) championship game. The winner is chosen by a panel of 16 football writers and broadcasters and, since Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, fans voting electronically. The media panel's ballots count for 80 percent of the vote tally, while the viewers' ballots make up the other 20 percent. The game's viewing audience can vote on the Internet or by using cellular phones; Media voters are asked to vote with about five minutes remaining in the game, but are allowed to change their mind when the game ends. They can nominate one player from each team, with instructions to count their vote for the player on the winning team. Voters cannot select an entire unit.The Super Bowl MVP has been awarded annually since the game's inception in 1967. Through 1989, the award was presented by SPORT magazine. Bart Starr was the MVP of the first two Super Bowls. Since 1990, the award has been presented by the NFL. At Super Bowl XXV, the league first awarded the Pete Rozelle Trophy, named after former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, to the Super Bowl MVP. Ottis Anderson was the first to win the trophy. The most recent Super Bowl MVP, from Super Bowl LIII held on February 3, 2019, is New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who had 10 receptions for 141 yards.Tom Brady is the only player to have won four Super Bowl MVP awards; Joe Montana has won three and three others—Starr, Terry Bradshaw, and Eli Manning—have won the award twice. Starr and Bradshaw are the only ones to have won it in back-to-back years. The MVP has come from the winning team every year except 1971, when Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley won the award despite the Cowboys' loss in Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts. Harvey Martin and Randy White were named co-MVPs of Super Bowl XII, the only time co-MVPs have been chosen. Including the Super Bowl XII co-MVPs, seven Cowboys players have won Super Bowl MVP awards, the most of any NFL team. Quarterbacks have earned the honor 29 times in 53 games.Superdome (film)
Superdome is a 1978 American made-for-television drama film produced by ABC Circle Films. It premiered on ABC as part of The ABC Monday Night Movie series and was used to promote Super Bowl XII. It featured a cast of stars but was ridiculed for its confusing and sensational plotlines, as well as for containing no football scenes. It was directed by Jerry Jameson and written by Barry Oringer from a story by Oringer and Bill Svanoe.
Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XII champions
|Division championships (23)|
|Conference championships (10)|
|League Championships (5)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
|Division championships (15)|
|Conference championships (8)|
|League championships (3)|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.
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