The Cowboys 1-15 season in 1989 seemed so far ago. They had shown improvement every season following 1989, the team was getting stronger with coach Jimmy Johnson leading the way. The Cowboys finished the 1992 season with a 13-3 record. Their most wins in franchise history. They were champions of the NFC East and received a first round bye in the playoffs. Their first opponent in the 1992 playoffs? The hated division rival Philadelphia Eagles. There was something different about this Cowboys team. A confidence that just could not be explained.
Texas Stadium would be the site for this Divisional round game. And it would be the Eagles who scored on their first possession and took a 3-0 lead after a penalty on the Cowboys. Cornerback Issiac Holt jumped off-sides on an Eagles punt, giving them a first down which resulted in the Eagles field goal.
The Cowboys would score the next 34 points in the game and never looked back. Their first score came in the first quarter as newly signed tight end Derek Tennell caught a short touchdown pass from Troy Aikman. Dallas took the lead 7-3.
After a very slow second quarter Dallas exploded for 10 points in the last 47 seconds of the quarter. A 41 yard Aikman to Alvin Harper reception put the ball at the Eagles six yard line. From there Aikman threw his second touchdown pass of the first half as he connected with Jay Novacek for the score and a 14-3 lead. On the kickoff Eagles return man Vai Sikahema fumbled the ball and Dallas recovered. Dallas kicker Lin Elliott kicked a field goal as the half ended and the Cowboys went to the locker room with a 17-3 lead.
The Cowboys continued their dominating defensive play in the third quarter as they stopped the Eagles offense with each possession. The Dallas offense put up ten more points before the third quarter ended. Emmitt Smith who finished the game with 114 yards rushing, scored on a 23 yard touchdown run. And once again Lin Elliott kicked a field goal to increase the Cowboys lead to 27-3 as the third quarter ended.
The Cowboys lone fourth quarter score came from seldom used running back Derrick Gainer who scored from one yard out with 3:19 left and put Dallas ahead 34-3.
The only Eagles touchdown? That came with only 50 seconds left in the game as Randall Cunningham threw a touchdown pass to receiver Calvin Williams. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 34-10 and earned a trip to San Francisco for the NFC Championship game.
The score itself (34-10) shows how much the Cowboys dominated the Eagles in this playoff game, but if you look a little closer at some of the numbers the domination was so much more. The Cowboys had the number one ranked defensive unit in the NFL in 1992 and they showed it against the Eagles by shutting down their running game as well as their passing game.
The Dallas defense held the Eagles offense to only 178 yards in the game. Cunningham passed for 160 yards, but 102 of those yards game in the fourth quarter with Dallas in command. Cunningham was also sacked five times for losses of 45 yards by the Dallas defense .
The Eagles running game didn’t do much better as they only rushed for 63 yards. Herschel Walker rushed for 29 yards during the Eagles first possession of the game and did not gain another yard the rest of the game. Heath Sherman who replaced Walked managed only 12 yards on six carries during the game.
It was a dominating performance from the entire Dallas team against the Eagles. A performance that would vault the Dallas Cowboys organization into being the team of the decade in the 1990’s with three Super Bowl Championships.
“I felt like we would win before the game started”, said Jimmy Johnson
“It’s a big win for us,” said Johnson. “We’ve got bigger wins coming.”
“We could have done better. We could have shut them out”, said Russell Maryland
“They are a great team,” said Cunningham. “And today they whipped our butts. They’re a young team and they’ll be around for a while, so we and others better get used to them.”
You can see the box score of the game here…