The once inept Denver Broncos, who in 17 previous season, compiled an unimpressive record of 82 wins and 147 lossed, seek redemption Sunday.
The American Conference champion Broncos play the Dallas Cowboys, champions of the National Conference, in Super Bowl 12 at 6 p.m. before a capacity crowd of 74,904 in the enclosed Louisiana Superdome, Dallas is favored by 5 1/2 points.
The reason for the late kickoffs is to attract a prime-time television audience, National Football League, commissioner Pete Rozelle explained. About 150 million people are expected to watch the CBS telecast. WTOP-TV-9 will carry the game in the Washington area. Pregame shows begin at 3 p.m.
Each member of the winning team will earn $18.000 for the game. Each member of the losing team is paid $9,000.
Both teams are relatively healthy for Sunday's game except for a touch of the flu that bothered reserve tackle John Grant of the Broncos early in the week and hit safety Charlie Waters and tackles Ralph Neely and Pat Donovan of the Cowboys later.
The only seriously injured player remained reserve tight end Jay Saldi of Dallas, who suffered a bruised left calf during the Cowboys' National Conference victory over Minnesota. He has been listed as questionable all week and on Friday his status was changed to doubtful. That means there is a 75 per cent; chance that Saldi will not play. Coach Tom Landry tackle, would be the back-up tight end for the game.
The match-up pits the poise of the organizations types, the Cowboys, against the emotion of Denver, the new face in the playoffs. The Broncos won 12 of their 14 regular-season games, then whipped Pittsburgh and Oakland in the playoffs, Dallas also was 12-2 before easily beating Chicago and Minnesota in the playoffs.
This is the 12th renewal of an event that has captures the top four rankings of any sports promotions on TV. That is why sponsors are paying $325,000 a commercial minute so consumers can see. If the Broncos of the American Football Conference can continue the dominance over the NFC.
The AFC has won the last five games and eight of the last nine. It is easier to remember that Green Bay won the first two and the Cowboys the sixth.
There is the prospect of a figurative aloud over the proceedings in the 72 degree temperature of the domed stadium; the dread by the league that there may be another officiating boo-boo similar to those made recently.
It is more likely that holders of the $30 tickets, up from $20 last time and scalped for as high as $250 in Dallas, will be more interested in whether the new sensation, running back Tony Dorsett of the Cowboys, can inject excitement by outflanking the No. 1 rushing defense in the league.
The Broncos were 12th in total offense and last in passing in the AFC, and 12th against the pass.
In their conference the Cowboys have been paragons of consistency on offense and defense, if against allegedly lesser opposition - third in rushing and second in passing and first against the rush and second against the pass.
Individually, Roger Staubach led the NFC in passing: Efren Horrora in kicking for 93 points, with 18 field goals in 29 attempts; wide receiver Drew Pearson was third in pass receptions and running back Preston Pearson sixth; Dorsett was fourth in rushing with 1,007 yards; Danny White was eighth in punting and Butch Johnson seventh in punt returns and fifth in kickoff runbacks.
Denver quarterback Craig Morton was second in passing in the AFC; Jim Turner sixth in kicking with 76 points, hitting on 13 of 19 field goals; the Broncos had no receivers among the top 17; no ground gainers among the top 17; Bucky Dilts was seventh in punting, but the Broncos' big-play specialist, Rick Upchurch, was fifth in punt returns, including an 87-yarder for a touchdown, and eighth in kickoff runbacks.
If each team plays at its best, Dallas figures to win, but they unaccountably have had short slumps over the years and any fall-off in form against the Broncos could be fatal. The Broncos are a patient, field-position team that has not slumped this season.
The Broncos defeated the defending champion Oakland Raiders two out of three games, including the AFC championship contest; two-timer Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh twice, and Eastern Division champion Baltimore during the regular season.
Denver's only other loss was to Dallas, 14-6, in a meaningless final game of the season, at Dallas.
Morton, who has been bothered for several games by hip and thigh injuries, played only the first series of downs.Although Morton is not completely recovered and will play with a specially designed protective pad, Miller says he is in excellent condition for his challenge.
His big weapons are tight end Riley Odoms and wide receiver, Haven Moses, Miller is starting Otis Armstrong, a member of the 1,000-Yard Club last season, for the first time in four games. Jon Keyworth also will start despite an alleged threat to his life that caused concern until a suspect was put under surveillance.
7-7 records, and to Pittsburgh (9-5).The
Dallas lost to St. Louis, which had a Cowboys had a relatively easier schedule, even in the playoffs.