Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Super Bowl XII: Butch Johnson's aerial gem

Butch Johnson and his bandaged right thumb go for the TD reception that gave Dallas a 20-3 lead.

Wireimage (1978)\uFEFF

Butch Johnson and his bandaged right thumb go for the TD reception that gave Dallas a 20-3 lead.

With the Tampa Bay area hosting the Super Bowl in 2009, we picked 25 memorable moments from past games and asked you to rank them. After more than 1,000 votes, we are counting down to the Feb. 1 game with a weekly look at your picks. See slide shows of the nominees, narrated by legendary announcer Pat Summerall, at superbowlvote.tampabay.com

THE RESULT: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10

THE DATE: Jan. 15, 1978

THE PLACE: Superdome, New Orleans

THE SITUATION: Dallas took command early, building a 13-0 lead by halftime on a 3-yard Tony Dorsett touchdown run and a pair of Efren Herrera field goals, which partially made up for the three he had missed. The Broncos were lucky to be in the game at all. They had lost three fumbles, and Craig Morton, a former Cowboys quarterback, was picked off four times by halftime. Denver showed signs of life early in the third quarter when Morton drove it to the Dallas 30, setting up a 47-yard Jim Turner field goal. But Denver's hopes for a comeback were quickly shattered by the man with the broken thumb, Dallas wide receiver Butch Johnson.

THE TURNING POINT: Facing third and 10 at the Denver 45, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach improvised in the huddle. He had noticed that free safety Bernard Jackson had not been dropping back into deep zone coverage, instead hovering in the middle. Staubach told Johnson, who had injured his thumb while blocking in the second quarter, to run a post pattern to exploit the opening.

THE MOMENT: Johnson took off and went airborne horizontally at the goal line, making a sensational catch despite a wrap around his right thumb. After he hit the end-zone turf, the ball came loose. Denver insisted the pass was incomplete. But officials signaled touchdown; the ruling by referee Jim Tunney was that Johnson had broken the plane of the goal line in flight, then released the ball after hitting the ground. With that, Dallas increased its lead to 20-3 lead with 6:59 left in the quarter.

QUOTABLE: Offensive coordinator Dan Reeves on Johnson: "As a pass-catcher, Butch has better concentration than any receiver I've ever seen."

Dave Scheiber, Times staff writer

Super Bowl XII: Butch Johnson's aerial gem 09/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 2:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.