American Football Database

1987 Dallas Cowboys season
Head Coach Tom Landry
Home Field Texas Stadium
Record 7–8
Place 2nd NFC East
Playoff Finish did not qualify
Previous season Next season
1986 1988

The Dallas Cowboys ended the 1987 season with a record of 7 wins and 8 losses, finishing second in the NFC East.

The NFL players, unable to reach a contract agreement with the owners, went on strike for the second time in six seasons after the second week of games. Unlike the last strike, the owners replaced the striking players with free agents and veteran players who were willing to cross the picket line. The NFL cancelled all games for the week of September 27, and began playing with the replacement players on October 4. The strike ended on October 15, but the replacement players played the next weekend as well. The replacement players participated in three weeks worth of games overall.

After the Cowboys began the season by offsetting a tough 24–13 loss to St. Louis (which saw the Cardinals erase a ten point deficit in the final two minutes by scoring three touchdowns) with an upset over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the majority of the Cowboys players went on strike. Players that crossed the picket line to play with the replacement players included quarterback Danny White, defensive tackle Randy White, running back Tony Dorsett, and defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones. Thanks to the veteran players and a few replacement players who would stay on with the team after the strike, the Cowboys fielded one of the better replacement teams. The replacement Cowboys easily defeated the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, with the Eagles game being of particular note. The Eagles fielded a team completely made up of replacements, and were no match for the Cowboys, who played several of their veterans throughout the game. Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan was displeased with head coach Tom Landry for doing this, and afterwards made it clear that he was looking forward to playing the Cowboys in two weeks when the non-replacement Eagles returned. The following week the Cowboys missed an opportunity to take command in the NFC East when they suffered a devastaing loss to the Washington Redskins. Despite playing Danny White and Tony Dorsett the entire game against a Redskins team fielded entirely of replacement players, the Cowboys came up short 13–7. The striking players returned the following week, and the Cowboys were beaten soundly by the Eagles, 37–20, in a game that saw the Eagles score a touchdown on the game's final play, that served nothing more than to increase the Eagles margin of victory. The Cowboys were up and down the rest of the season, following another victory over the Giants with a loss to the woeful Detroit Lions. The Cowboys squandered a 5–4 record down the stretch with a 4 game losing streak, sandwiching heartbreaking losses to the Vikings and Redskins with an embarrassing home loss to the Falcons. After the Falcons game, Cowboys owner Bum Bright questioned coach Landry's play-calling, and Cowboys team president Tex Schramm said of the loss, "this is probably the lowest I've been in my career." The Cowboys rebounded in the last two games however, defeating the Los Angeles Rams and the St. Louis Cardinals, and eliminating both from the playoffs in the process. Danny White coached the Cowboys for a brief period during the Rams game when there was a threat against Tom Landry's life. Landry returned shortly from the locker room and coached the rest of the 29–21 Dallas victory.

Running back Herschel Walker had another terrific season, leading the Cowboys in rushing and receiving, and leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1606, while former star running back Tony Dorsett posted career lows in rushing yards with 456. Quarterback Danny White struggled with turnovers throughout the season, and was replaced by Steve Pelleur late in the season. The Cowboys offensive line had trouble with pass protection again, allowing 52 sacks, while the receiving corps was mediocre, with Mike Renfro leading the way with 662 yards on 46 catches. Defensively, the Cowboys really struggled against the pass, finishing 27th in passing yards allowed, despite posting 51 sacks and 23 interceptions. The Cowboys were solid against the run, finishing 6th overall and only allowing 3.5 yards a carry.


Dallas Cowboys 1987 roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Currently vacant

Rookies in italics
49 Active, 0 Inactive


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 13, 1987 at St. Louis Cardinals L 24–13
2 September 20, 1987 at New York Giants W 16–14
September 27, 1987 Buffalo Bills canceled
3 October 4, 1987 at New York Jets W 38–24
4 October 11, 1987 Philadelphia Eagles W 41–22
5 October 19, 1987 Washington Redskins L 13–7
6 October 25, 1987 at Philadelphia Eagles L 37–20
7 November 2, 1987 New York Giants W 33–24
8 November 8, 1987 at Detroit Lions L 27–17
9 November 15, 1987 at New England Patriots W 23–17
10 November 22, 1987 Miami Dolphins L 20–14
11 November 26, 1987 Minnesota Vikings L 44–38
12 December 6, 1987 Atlanta Falcons L 21–10
13 December 13, 1987 at Washington Redskins L 24–20
14 December 21, 1987 at Los Angeles Rams W 29–21
15 December 27, 1987 St. Louis Cardinals W 21–16


NFC East
view · talk · edit W L T PCT PF PA STK
Washington Redskins 11 4 0 .733 379 285 W1
Dallas Cowboys 7 8 0 .467 340 348 W2
St. Louis Cardinals 7 8 0 .467 362 368 L1
Philadelphia Eagles 7 8 0 .467 337 380 W2
New York Giants 6 9 0 .400 280 312 W2



AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Buffalo Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Indianapolis Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit LA Rams
Miami Houston LA Raiders Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1987 NFL Draft1987 NFL strikeNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXII