It was one of those cocktail party ideas that bounced from agent to publisher but never made the typewriter, a title that needed only a book behind it to top every best seller list.

That title was "No Ordinary Fools" and the book was to explore people in especially hazardous jobs, such as:

An Indy 500 driver.

A mercenary

A bomb detonator.

Los Angeles Rams football coach.

Carroll Rosenbloom has one order for his head coach: Get to the Super Bowl or get out of my life. Chuck Knox was shuffled off to Buffalo last season after winning 78 percent of his games and five divisional championships in as many years. George Allen was fired two games into the exhibition season.

Now the bull neck of Ray Malavasi is whispered to be the next target of Rosenbloom's cleaver if the Rams fail to beat the Dallas Cowboys here Sunday. If ever they are to realize their owner's dream this should be the year.

The Rams hardly are overwhelming, most of their outside speed on offense being in casts at the moment, but the Cowboys are about as vulnerable as they intend to be for several years.

The Dallas defensive line is certainly troubled, if not chaotic. Harvey Martin has been ailing for weeks and Jethro Pugh did not play when he was supposed to have a week ago. And the line covers for still-green linebackers and in ordinary secondary against passes.

Still the Cowboys once again this season have shown a skill no other team has. They coast along early in the season, seemingly measuring the opposition and themselves until they realize what is necessary to win the NFC East.

Then -- click -- they press a button marked inspiration, or some such, and become dominant the rest of the season.

In 1970 they opened the season with a 5-4 record -- and lost the Super Bowl by three points in a freakish battle with the Baltimore Colts. In 1971 they started with a 4-3 record and one Redskin was overheard saying:

"They're finished."

They won the Super Bowl -- by three touchdowns.

This season, after winning their second Super Bowl a year ago, the Cowboys began their annual slide during a 38-0 victory and then began their upward surge during two losses. Let coach Tom Landry explain:

"I can't say I didn't foresee it, because the small complacency thing we talked about is often not a conscious thing," he said. "In our team, it wasn't conscious. We were not aware that we weren't playing quite as well as when we won the Super Bowl.

"Players worked hard enough to have our best off-season program. There was no complacency there. But when we got into the season we were just a notch below what we were before. Other teams (the Redskins among them) were just a notch above how they've ever played against us.

"The Baltimore game was very negative for us, because everyone overrated us tremendously afterwards. Hear it enough and you begin to believe it. Do that long enough and you're in big trouble, as an athlete and as a team."

Toasting themselves, the Cowboys lost four of their next nine games and fell two games behind the Redskins. Then both teams started sprinting in opposite directions. The Dallas rise began in the 10th game.

"Minnesota (the ninth game) was the worst game you could play. We were so bad it was unreal. The players couldn't believe it. They worked hard the next week for Miami. Then after the first quarter (down, 17-0) they were back where they had been against Minnesota.

"It shocked them again. Then something happened about halftime and they turned it around mentally. They started to play tough. They began doing the things they had to do. That's why we won six in a row."

Seven, counting the playoff victory over the Falcons a week ago.

But there were signs of a possible mental relapse, in addition to their physical problems on the defensive line and Roger Staubach's mild concussion.The Falcons moved the ball on the ground against Dallas more than even the best teams usually do.

Staubach has played only sparingly in nearly a month; he was not especially sharp before being knocked out of the Falcon game. And two of the important, if somewhat anonymous, Cowboys have had their heads turned a bit this week.

Offensive coordinator Dan Reeves and the vice president for personnel, Gil Brandt, have been mentioned as the saviors of the New York Giant franchise -- and they have not minded expressing their interest.

In contrast, the Rams have seemed uncharacteristically obsessed for this collision. Perhaps they realize the athletic-choke label partially fits and are at last determined to be rid of it.