Jan 4 in Sports History: More NFL playoff history

In 1976: The Dallas Cowboys became the first Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl with a 37-7 drubbing of the Los Angeles Rams on the road. Roger Staubach, who had tortured the Vikings the week before with a miracle “Hail Mary” pass in the final seconds, threw for four touchdown passes in the blowout victory. The Cowboys were unable to complete the dream, as they lost in the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

In 1981: What does Sportscolumnhave against the Cleveland Browns? Nothing really — but when the Daily History writer is from Pittsburgh, these things get mentioned. Another January Sunday, another Cleveland Browns colossal playoff failure. This time, Browns’ quarterback Brian Sipe, kicker Don Cockcroft and coach Sam Rutigliano did the honors as the Browns blew another one they could’ve had. The warm weather Oakland Raiders were greeted with minus 37 degree wind chills (and snow balls from the Cleveland fans). But it was the Browns who were frozen, as Cockcroft missed three field goals and an extra point and Sipe threw three interceptions in a 14-12 loss. Cleveland drove to the Raiders 13 yard line in the final minutes, but Rutigliano elected not to have Cockcroft kick the game-winner (he did make two earlier) and called the infamous “Red Right 88” Sipe’s pass was intercepted by Mike Davis, and the Raiders went on to become the first Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl.

In 1980: President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States Olympic Team would be boycotting the Summer Games in Moscow later that year. In a highly criticized reaction to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan a few months earlier, hundreds of American athletes were not allowed to compete in their only chance to win an Olympic medal. The Soviets responded by not boycotting the upcoming Lake Placid Winter Games (we’re thankful for that- there wouldn’t have been a ‘Miracle On Ice’) but instead by skipping the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Both boycotts backfired, as the Soviets went unchallenged in 1980 and the U.S. had no competition in ’84. Really, it was just stupid, silly politics getting in the way of some great athletic contests. Carter wasn’t re-elected that year.

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