March 17, 2016

Highlighted Year: Tony Dorsett, 1978

Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

Age: 24
2nd season in pro football & with Cowboys
College: Pittsburgh
Height: 5’11” Weight: 192

Dorsett had a brilliant college career, receiving All-American recognition in all four years and culminating in Pitt winning a national championship and the star running back winning the 1976 Heisman Trophy. The Cowboys traded for Seattle’s second overall pick in the first round of the ’77 NFL draft to get Dorsett. He spent most of his rookie season backing up HB Preston Pearson until being inserted into the starting lineup for the last four games and still managed to gain 1007 rushing yards, which included 206 in a contest against the Eagles, and score a total of 13 TDs. Dorsett received numerous Rookie of the Year honors and capped his first season with a touchdown in the Super Bowl win over Denver.

1978 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 290 [4]
Most attempts, game – 29 (for 121 yds.) at NY Jets 12/17
Yards – 1325 [3]
Most yards, game – 154 yards (on 21 carries) vs. St. Louis 9/24
Average gain – 4.6 [9]
TDs – 7 [15, tied with seven others]
100-yard rushing games – 6

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 37      
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 32 yds.) at LA Rams 9/17
Yards – 378
Most yards, game – 107 (on 3 catches) vs. Baltimore 9/4
Average gain – 10.2
TDs – 2
100-yard receiving games – 1

Pass attempts – 1
Pass completions – 0
Interceptions – 0

All-Purpose yards – 1703 [4]

TDs – 10 [8, tied with six others]
Points – 60

Postseason: 3 G
Rushing attempts – 47
Most rushing attempts, game – 17 at LA Rams, NFC Championship
Rushing yards – 262
Most rushing yards, game – 101 at LA Rams, NFC Championship
Average gain rushing – 5.6
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 8
Most pass receptions, game – 5 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards – 68
Most pass receiving yards, game – 44 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
Average yards per reception – 8.5
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Cowboys went 12-4 to finish first in the NFC East while leading the NFL in touchdowns (48) and scoring (384 points) and the conference in total yards (5965) and rushing yards (2783). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Atlanta Falcons (27-20) & NFC Championship over Los Angeles Rams (28-0). Lost Super Bowl to Pittsburgh Steelers (35-31).

Dorsett went on to compile eight thousand-yard rushing seasons in his initial nine years with the Cowboys (missing out only during the strike-shortened 1982 campaign). He had a career-high of 1646 rushing yards in 1981, when he was a consensus All-NFL selection, and received at least some All-NFL or All-NFC recognition five times and was selected to the Pro Bowl on four occasions. His career highs for pass receiving were 51 catches for 459 yards in 1984.  Dorsett was with the Cowboys for 11 seasons, eventually splitting time with Herschel Walker, and finished his career in 1988 with the Denver Broncos. At the time of his retirement, Dorsett’s 12,739 rushing yards ranked second all-time. He also caught 398 passes for another 3554 yards and scored a total of 91 TDs. In 17 postseason games, he rushed for 1383 yards. Dorsett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1994. His son Anthony played defensive back for eight years in the NFL.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970