One of the nice things about Madden’s book, “One Knee Equals Two Feet”, is that it does understand the importance of Preston Pearson, and the notion of the third down back in general. A lot of this influence is a consequence of a single game. In 1975, the Dallas Cowboys were a wild-card team, a 10-4 team advancing into the second round of the playoffs against a very good and well coached Chuck Knox team, the Los Angeles Rams, with a record of 12-2. They were led by the excellent Lawrence McCutcheon at running back and featured one of the best defensive lines ever in professional football, featuring Fred Dean and Jack Youngblood at defensive ends, Merlin Olson at defensive tackle, and Jack Reynolds and Isiah Robertson at linebacker. The Rams were the #1 defense in football, allowing less than 10 points a game.
By the end of this game, Dallas had won 37-7. Roger Staubach called it “the most perfect football game we ever had as Cowboys.” Preston Pearson had gained 20 yards rushing, but 123 yards passing, including three touchdowns.
It wasn’t as if he was given easy passes to catch, either.
The most famous catch was his third touchdown, the shovel pass.
Video of this game is here.