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1985 Dallas Cowboys season

Updated: 2017-08-15T01:00Z
1985 Dallas Cowboys season
Dallas Cowboys.svg
Head coachTom Landry
(26th season)
General managerTex Schramm
(Since 1960)
OwnerBum Bright
(Since 1984)
Home fieldTexas Stadium
Division place1st NFC East
Playoff finishLost Divisional Playoffs (Rams) 20–0

The Cowboys finished the 1985 season with a record of ten wins and six losses, good for first place in the NFC East, and earning a trip to the playoffs (the final postseason appearance for the Cowboys under Tom Landry), where they lost in a divisional playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Cowboys' defense attempting to stop Rams' running back Eric Dickerson (29) in the 1985-86 NFC Divisional Playoffs Game.

Tom Landry's team got off to a fast start, opening the season with 44-14 trouncing of their longtime nemesis, the Redskins, and later defeating the Steelers (their first victory over Pittsburgh since 1972) to give the team a 5–1 record and an early two-game lead over the rest of the division. However, the team was up and down the rest of the way, finishing out the season 5–5 and allowing both the Giants and Redskins to catch up with them at 10–6. Two wins each over both the Giants and Redskins allowed the Cowboys to win the division based on the tie-breaking rules. During the inconsistent stretch toward the end of the season, the Cowboys suffered two of the most embarrassing defeats in team history. On November 17, the undefeated Chicago Bears came to Texas Stadium and gave the Cowboys a 44–0 beating that was the worst loss in team history, and it was also the first time in 218 games that the Cowboys had not scored. Three weeks later the team traveled to Cincinnati, where the Bengals handed them a 50–24 loss, piling up 570 yards in the process, the most yards the Cowboys had given up in team history. The Cowboys proved to be a resilient bunch however, winning a crucial game at home against the Giants the following week that gave them their first division title since 1981, and the final for Tom Landry. That game would prove to be the last highlight of the season, as the team was shut out in the playoffs for the first time in team history, 20–0, by the Rams in Anaheim, California, which would prove to be the final playoff appearance for the Cowboys under Landry.

With the previous season's quarterback controversy behind him, Danny White led the Cowboys' passing game to number three overall in the league. Wide receiver Tony Hill posted career highs in receptions and receiving yards, and Mike Renfro blossomed in his second season with the Cowboys. Tight end Doug Cosbie had another pro bowl season. Turnovers proved to be a problem though, as White and backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom combined to throw 24 interceptions. Running back Tony Dorsett was the only reliable ball carrier on the roster, rushing for 1,307 yards on the season, and going over 10,000 yards for his career. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys registered 62 sacks and 33 interceptions, with cornerback Everson Walls becoming the first player to ever lead the league in interceptions three times, with nine. The big plays covered up a pass defense that ranked 27th in the league, and a defense that ranked 23rd overall. The secondary allowed big plays through the air throughout the season, and the defense allowed running back Eric Dickerson to rush for a playoff record 248 yards in their playoff game against the Rams.

1985 NFL Draft

Round Pick Name Position School
1 17 Kevin Brooks Defensive end Michigan
2 44 Jesse Penn Linebacker Virginia Tech
3 76 Crawford Ker Offensive guard Florida
4 103 Robert Lavette Running back Georgia Tech
5 114 Herschel Walker Running back Georgia
6 144 Kurt Ploeger Defensive end Gustavus Adolphus
6 157 Matt Moran Offensive guard Stanford
7 178 Karl Powe Wide receiver Alabama State
7 184 Jim Herrmann Defensive end BYU
8 216 Leon Gonzales Wide receiver Bethune-Cookman
9 243 Scott Strasburger Linebacker Nebraska
10 270 Joe Jones Tight end Virginia Tech
11 297 Neal Dellocono Linebacker UCLA
12 324 Karl Jordan Linebacker Vanderbilt


Dallas Cowboys 1985 roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Rookies in italics
45 Active, 5 Inactive

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Game site NFL Recap Attendance
1 September 9, 1985 Washington Redskins W 44–14 Texas Stadium Recap
2 September 15, 1985 at Detroit Lions L 21–26 Pontiac Silverdome Recap
3 September 22, 1985 Cleveland Browns W 20–7 Texas Stadium Recap
4 September 29, 1985 at Houston Oilers W 17–10 Astrodome Recap
5 October 6, 1985 at New York Giants W 30–29 Giants Stadium Recap
6 October 13, 1985 Pittsburgh Steelers W 27–13 Texas Stadium Recap
7 October 20, 1985 at Philadelphia Eagles L 14–16 Veterans Stadium Recap
8 October 27, 1985 Atlanta Falcons W 24–10 Texas Stadium Recap
9 November 4, 1985 at St. Louis Cardinals L 10–21 Busch Memorial Stadium Recap
10 November 10, 1985 at Washington Redskins W 13–7 RFK Stadium Recap
11 November 17, 1985 Chicago Bears L 0–44 Texas Stadium Recap
12 November 24, 1985 Philadelphia Eagles W 34–17 Texas Stadium Recap
13 November 28, 1985 St. Louis Cardinals W 35–17 Texas Stadium Recap
14 December 8, 1985 at Cincinnati Bengals L 24–50 Riverfront Stadium Recap
15 December 15, 1985 New York Giants W 28–21 Texas Stadium Recap
16 December 22, 1985 at San Francisco 49ers L 16–31 Candlestick Park Recap

Game summaries

Week 1: vs. Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

Week 15

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NFC East
Dallas Cowboys(3) 10 6 0 .625 6–2 7–5 357 333 L1
New York Giants(4) 10 6 0 .625 5–3 8–4 399 283 W1
Washington Redskins 10 6 0 .625 4–4 6–6 297 312 W3
Philadelphia Eagles 7 9 0 .438 4–4 6–8 286 310 W1
St. Louis Cardinals 5 11 0 .313 1–7 3–9 278 414 L2


Week Date Opponent Result Game site NFL Recap Attendance
Divisional Playoffs January 4, 1986 at Los Angeles Rams L 0–20 Anaheim Stadium [1]

Divisional playoffs

January 4, 1986

NFC: Los Angeles Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 0

Game summary

at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California


  • The Cowboys sent four players to the pro bowl following the 1985 season. Wide receiver Tony Hill went to his first since 1979, tight end Doug Cosbie was named to his third consecutive game, cornerback Everson Walls achieved his fourth, and defensive tackle Randy White was named to his ninth consecutive pro bowl. Randy White was named to the associated press All-NFL first team, while Everson Walls was named to the second team.
  • Everson Walls, NFL Leader, Interceptions, (9)



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