In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
In the lowest-scoring playoff game in NFL history, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 5-0 at the Cotton Bowl to advance to the NFC Championship Game. Craig Morton had a miserable game for Dallas, completing 4-of-18 passes for 38 yards. The Dallas defense dominated Detroit, allowing 156 total yards, forcing three turnovers with a safety. The Cowboys would reach their first Super Bowl with a 17-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers a week later.
The Detroit Lions led by Joe Schmidt were making their first playoff appearance since the 1957 NFL Championship. The Lions grabbed the Wild Card slot after posting a record of 10-4. One of their losses came on a record 63-yard field goal by Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints. The Lions won their last five games in 1970 to grab the Wild Card spot, with their biggest win coming against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13.
The Dallas Cowboys won their fifth consecutive division title in 1970, posting a 10-4 record for Tom Landry. After losing the NFL Championship in 1966 and 1967, the Cowboys lost in the Divisional Round in 1968 and 1969 as they sought to reach the Super Bowl. The Cowboys season was marked by a quarterback controversy between Craig Morton and Roger Staubach. Landry often chose Morton because he did not trust Staubach to follow his game plan. Like the Lions, the Cowboys won their final five games, including a 6-2 in over the Cleveland Browns in Week 13.
The Cowboys were able to control the game on the ground as Duane Thomas had 135 yards on 30 carries, while Walt Garrison added 72 yards on 17 carries. However, the Cowboys could not get the ball into the end zone. Craig Morton had a terrible game completing just four passes for 38 yards with one interception. Dallas would take the lead with a 26-yard field goal by Mike Clark in the first quarter, but their offense could not get any more points as the game turned into a punting contest. Ron Winby of the Cowboys and Herman Weaver of the Lions each punted eight times.
The Lions' offense was even worse as they managed just 156 yards, with three turnovers, including quarterback Greg Landry fumbling twice while completing 5-of-12 passes for 48 yards. In the fourth quarter, George Andrie and Jethro Pugh teamed up to sack Landry in the end zone for a safety score that made the score 5-0. Bill Munson took over for Landry and was picked off by Mel Renfro in what would be the game’s clinching play for Dallas.