Sunday, August 19, 2018

Harvey Martin's Amazing 1977 Season

LOOKING BACK
By John Turney
Art credit: Robert Hurst
In 1977 Harvey Martin was on top of the world—He was a Super Bowl champ, a Super Bowl co-MVP, an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler and the NFL and NFC Defensive Player of the Year. A defender cannot do much better than that in s single season. Martin also led the NFL in sacks, though the stat was not official and there has been misleading information about what the total was which we will explore. It's not a huge difference, but we certainly think regardless of the total of sacks it may still be the best season ever by a Dallas Cowboys defender.

Here are his game-by-game tackles, assists, tackles, passes defensed, sacks and fumbles recovered. He had 63 tackles, 19½ or 20 sacks, two passes deflected and a pair of fumbles recovered.

If you count sacks the way they are counted now (where if you share a sack you get credit for a ½ sack and if you do it alone it's a solo sack) then his total was 20.
As the chart notes, according to the semi-official play-by-plays (now called gamebooks) the total was 20 sacks. There is a caveat as noted. The text of the Week 9 Gamebook shows his sack was shared with White, but the tackle chart shows it was a solo tackle. See below. Tackle chart first, text next.

So, at worst, the film may show his total was 19½ for 1977—still a stellar total.

To add to the confusion at the time the Cowboys didn't distinguish the difference and the team released a total of 23. That number appeared in the Cowboys Media Guide though 1989:
In 1990 the Cowboys corrected the record and used the more proper total of 20 in the 1990 iteration of the Media Guide:

That correct total remained in the Media Guide through 2001: 
 But in 2002, the incorrect total of 23 reappeared in the Cowboys media and has remained ever since:


Nonetheless, Martin's season, whether 19½ or 20 sacks (we say 20) and all the other accolades was one of the best seasons by any defender for the decade of the 1970s and is worthy to remember.

12 comments:

  1. found it interesting that in your top 4-0 d-end rankigns that Giddings classified Martin as a power end even though he is lean-looking. a heck of a defense for dallas in 77.

    john, when you are charting sacks do you just count the sack for the guy who grabs onto the qb first and if a second guy jumps on a tick later do you give him anything... an assist?

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    1. Mostly we use the play by plays. But if he use film we try to use the protocals they use now, the first guy gets credit, unless it;s clear the 2nd guy has to help him complete the sack.

      For my personal grades the 2nd guy who just get a QB hit

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  2. I think ff the 1st guy doesn't really need the help to bring down the qb then I would rather not give the second guy anything.

    Where do you find these gamebooks by the way? Can I search for these in google?

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  3. Best way is joing the PFRA and they have a good collection of them.

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  4. I was watching game footage and during the Eagle game where he recorded his last 3 sacks the announcer mentioned during his 2nd sack that it was his 22nd of the year. I find that interesting I also know that if you add the 20 from the books to the 3 from the playoffs 1 against chicago and 2 against denver then you would get to 23. I am currently trying to find a video of each sack, I am now looking for 20. I hope I find more.

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    1. the announces were just using the numbers from the Cowboys media release. The total for the regular season was 20.

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    2. So why would the media release before the eagle game say he had 20 sacks heading into the game against the Eagles at home unless there were sacks against either washington on the road or pittsburg on the road that were not registered by someone.

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    3. I just watched the game footage and white and martin shared two sacks in the washington game. One at the 44:29 in the 2nd quarter and another 5 seconds before the half. Which would be why there were one sack by Harvey. He may have shared the other one with DD Lewis since he was in the backfield as well on the first one. White shared the one at the end of the half and had one on his own.

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  5. Over the break I looked through all of the footage I could find and I put all of his sacks together. He was involved in 22 however a few of those were obviously credited as half. Here is the youtube link with the footage.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKdDoKnNaCU&feature=youtu.be

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    1. he was involved in 23. 17 solo and 6 assists or half-sacks
      17+3 = 20

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    2. Do you have a play by play of Philadelphia at Dallas. I think I found his 4th sack of the game which was his second half a sack which would be the 23 of the year which is the one I missed but I am not sure if it was considered a sack or not. He was registered for 3 during that game.

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  6. That means I missed one some where. Do you have an idea of where the half sacks would have been? I based my video research based on the number of sacks per game on the chart above and it looked to match up.

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