Flashback: Dallas vs San Diego – 1980

Here we go with another Flashback post with a team Dallas does not have much history with. Dallas only owns a 6-2 record against the San Diego Chargers. After looking through the eight games nothing really stood out, so I decided to go old school. The Cowboys and the Chargers had a lot in common back in the early 1980’s just like they do today. A lot of talent, but just could not get over that hump to greatness.

Both teams were filled with star players back in 1980. The Chargers had an explosive offense with quarterback Dan Fouts, running back Chuck Muncie, wide receivers John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow. The Cowboys were also filled with stars like Danny and Randy White, Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson and Tony Hill, Harvey Martin, Ed Jones, Dennis Thurman.

The Chargers offense started off quick in the first quarter on their first possession. Dan Fouts worked the team down the field on a few completions to John Jefferson and they found themselves on the Dallas 27 yard line when the drive stalled. Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke kicked a 45 yard field goal to take the lead 3-0.

The Cowboys put together a drive of their own on their first possession, but kicker Rafael Septien missed his field goal attempt which would have tied the game.

The Dallas defense collected what would be their first of seven turnovers by the Chargers. Cornerback Steve Wilson jumped in front of a Fouts pass at the Dallas 30 yard line and returned it all the way to the Chargers 35 yard line. Danny White drove the Cowboys down to the 4 yard line where Ron Springs scored, putting the Cowboys ahead 7-3.

Early in the second quarter Septien missed yet another field goal attempt. From that point on the Chargers offense put it in high gear. The Chargers first touchdown of the game came when Fouts passed to Charlie Joiner. But after being hit by Steve Wilson the ball bounced off of Wilson and into the hands of John Jefferson who raced for the score from 58 yards out. This gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead.

On the Cowboys next series Danny white threw his only interception of the game, but it turned out to be a score for San Diego. The Dallas offense was backed up on their own 8 yard line and White attempted a pass to backup running back James Jones. White was intercepted by San Diego’s Woodrow Lowe who returned it 16 yards for the touchdown. This increased the Chargers lead to 17-7.

The Cowboys put together a 75 yard drive on their next possession and closed the lead to three points. White connected with Butch Johnson on a 17 yard touchdown pass as the second quarter was winding down.

San Diego was not done with their second quarter scoring as they scored their third touchdown of the quarter. Fouts drove his team 65 yards in only five plays and capped it with his second touchdown pass of the half. Kellen Winslow caught the nine yard touchdown pass and the Chargers went into halftime with a 24-14 lead on the Cowboys.

As the second quarter would be owned by the Chargers with 21 points. It was the Cowboys turn in the third quarter. White drove the Cowboys to the Chargers 10 yard line. But on first down White fumbled the snap and backup tight end Jay Saldi alertly picked it up and ran it down to the two yard line. From there Timmy Newsome scored and pulled the Cowboys back to within three points, 24-21.

The Dallas defense got the ball back for the offense and once again it was Danny White who led the team deep into Chargers territory. During the drive it was White who faked a punt from his own 39 yard line on a fourth and 11. White gained 12 yards to keep the drive going. Sitting at the Chargers one yard line it was Timmy Newsome once again scoring and putting the Cowboys back in the lead 28-24.

The Dallas defense went back to work and got the ball back again. This time it was Randy White who forced Chuck Muncie to fumble and linebacker Anthony Dickerson recovered at the Chargers 11 yard line. Two plays later White threw his second touchdown pass of the game as he hit Jay Saldi from 12 yards out. The Cowboys had scored their second touchdown in a 2:31 span and also their third of the quarter. They took a 35-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

As the fourth quarter started Fouts and the Chargers tried to pull closer. Fouts went deep to Winslow. Charlie Waters tipped the ball and Winslow came down with it and raced towards the end zone. Dallas cornerback Aaron Mitchell hit Winslow and forced a fumble at the Dallas 15 yard line. Dennis Thurman scooped up the loose ball and returned it up to the 29 yard line.

The Dallas defense came up with another interception on the Chargers next drive. Dallas took advantage as White threw his third touchdown pass of the game as he connected with Billy Joe DuPree from nine yards out. Dallas took a commanding 42-24 lead on the Chargers.

The Cowboys could have added more points, but Septien missed his third field goal of the game from 44 yards out on the Cowboys next possession.

The Chargers made it a little closer as the game was about to end as Fouts threw his third touchdown pass of the game and second to Winslow.

The Cowboys came away with a 42-31 win against the San Diego Chargers which improved their season record to 6-2. The Dallas offense gained 425 yards on the Chargers as Danny White threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. White also connected with nine different receivers. Keep in mind that the game was played without Tony Dorsett who was out with an injury.Ron Springs filled in for Dorsett and ran for 61 yards on 13 carries.

Although the Chargers came up short in this game their offense was still explosive as Fouts threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns. It was his four interceptions that really hurt his team. Chuck Muncie ran for 71 yards. John Jefferson had 160 yards for the game and Charlie Joiner had 110 yards. The Chargers offense gained 449 yards on the Dallas defense.

“Our offense played very well, particularly in the second half.” observed head coach Tom Landry. It was a great game, a very important one for us. It was one we needed to win.”

“No, things weren’t going by design out there tonight,” White said. “They had a great pass rush and we were able to salvage a lot of busted plays, particularly in the second half. Things seemed to bounce their way in the first half but we got ours in the second.”

You can view the box score here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198010260dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Giants – 1995

As we get closer to the second meeting in 2009 with the Giants, it actually took some time to decide on a game to Flashback to. Not sure why it took so long, but for some reason I had a hard time deciding. Maybe it’s just a feeling of nervous excitement (If that makes any sense) about this Sunday’s game and what it means for the Cowboys. Maybe it’s because I have a good feeling about the game which makes me nervous about being too vocal.

So I ended up making my decision on which game to write about. It wasn’t a classic showdown. It was a game that allowed the Cowboys to send a message to the NFL. A message that even though they lost the NFC Championship the last time they were on the field they were still one of the best teams, if not the best in the NFL in 1995.

The stage…Monday Night Football

The site…Giants Stadium

When…Opening night of the 1995 season

The Cowboys entered the 1995 season looking to bounce back from a tough defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. They were matched up against their division rival NY Giants. The Giants had finished second to the Cowboys in the NFC East in both 1993 and 1994 and they thought they were prepared to take over the division in 1995. But they seemed to forget one person who played for the Cowboys. His name? Emmitt Smith.

Emmitt Smith could not have started his 1995 season any better. On his first carry of the season he broke through a hole created by his offensive line and scored on a 60 yard run. As he got to the goal line he waved to the Giants cornerback who was chasing him. Some Giants player’s thought it was a sign of disrespect from Smith. But Smith later explained after the game that it was just a reaction due to all his hamstring problems from the 1994 season. The Cowboys were up 7-0 in the first quarter and that was only the beginning.

The Cowboys offense went back to work in the second quarter as Troy Aikman connected with Michael Irvin on a seven yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-0. Then Emmitt Smith would score his second touchdown of the game from one yard out to send the Cowboys into halftime with a commanding 21-0 lead on the Giants.

The Cowboys were dominating both sides of the ball, but the one piece of bad news from the first half was the season ending injury to cornerback Kevin Smith. The injury occurred in the end zone on a non-contact play and the result was a ruptured Achilles for Smith. It was just one day before that Smith had signed a $11 million contract. Although the injury was devastating to the Cowboys defense. It also opened an opportunity for owner Jerry Jones. Can anyone say Deion?

Emmitt Smith continued to slice up the Giants defense as he added his third touchdown of the game in the third quarter on the Cowboys first drive. Emmitt’s touchdown put the Cowboys on top 28-0 and that’s how the score would stay as the fourth quarter started.

In what would be a record breaking season for Emmitt Smith with his 25 rushing touchdowns and another rushing title. Smith got off to a great start in 1995 against the Giants as he scored his fourth touchdown of the game. His third from one yard out and increased the Cowboys lead to 35-0.

There was nothing better than beating the Giants on Monday Night Football, in Giants Stadium and not allowing them to score a single point. The Dallas defense only allowed the Giants offense 211 yards while sacking Giants quarterback Dave Brown twice and intercepting him once. The 35-0 nothing beating was probably one of most dominating performances against the Giants I’ve seen since becoming a Dallas fan.

“We were expecting a tougher ballgame, no question,” Aikman said. “I think they’re a better football team than that.”

“It was total domination in all areas,” Switzer said. “When the Dallas Cowboys run the football like that, we’re very difficult to beat.”

Emmitt Smith of course led the Cowboys offense with 163 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Aikman connected on 15 of 20 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown. Irvin caught 7 passes for 109 yards. When both Smith and Irvin gained over 100 yards in the same game the Cowboys were 11-0.

Also, with the season ending injury to Kevin Smith. It pushed owner Jerry Jones to go out and sign Deion Sanders to what would be a seven year contact.

“We’re devastated about Kevin Smith’s injury, said coach Switzer. I think it’s probably a season-ending injury. I told Jerry (Jones) after the ballgame to go get Deion. It’s not showtime anymore. It’s serious business.”

You can view the box score here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199509040nyg.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Raiders – 1983

It took me a couple of weeks before making a decision on this match-up between the Cowboys and the Raiders. You would think there would be a lot of history between these two teams on the field, but the fact is that they have only played nine times. The Cowboys have won six of those nine games, but the Raiders have won the last three. Every single time I thought about this game I would keep going back to 1983. It was Sunday Night Football at Texas Stadium and the Cowboys were off to one of their best starts of any season as they entered the game against the Raiders with a 7-0 record.

As the first quarter got under way the Dallas defense got their first of the Raiders  six turnovers on the night as quarterback Marc Wilson fumbled the snap from center and Ed (Too Tall) Jones recovered at the Raiders 33 yard line.

It would not be your normal night as coach Tom Landry went deep into his bag of tricks. With the Cowboys at the Raiders 15 yard line Danny White went into the shotgun. On the snap running back Ron Springs who was lined up in the slot got the hand-off from White as he ran from right to left like it was a sweep play. While this was happening White kind of wandered off to the right sideline. Springs then stopped and passed the ball to White who was all alone for the 15 yard touchdown pass. Dallas took the lead 7-0 with just over 2:00 gone in the first quarter.

The Raiders answered the Cowboys touchdown with ten of their own points in the first quarter. Their points came thanks to Cowboys rookie punter John Warren who could only manage a 30 yard punt and a 34 yard punt on back to back Cowboys possessions. On the 34 yard punt Warren twisted his knee and the punting went back to Danny White for the night.

Danny White’s first punt attempt of the night was fumbled by the Raiders and Cowboys special teams specialist Rod Hill recovered at the Raiders 38 yard line. Dallas took advantage again of the turnover and from the two yard line Ron Springs scored and gave Dallas the lead back, 14-10 early in the second quarter.

On the Raiders next possession Marcus Allen fumbled and the Cowboys once again recovered at the Raiders 20 yard line. Dallas converted that turnover into a Rafael Septien field goal for a 17-10 lead.

The Raiders got back into the game with the running of Frank Hawkins who rushed for 118 yard in the game. He ran untouched into the end zone from 23 yards out and score was tied 17-17.

Even without the benefit of a Raiders turnover the Cowboys drove on the Raiders number ranked defense. Dallas put together a 76 yard drive in 8 plays and then capped the drive with a Danny White to Butch Johnson touchdown. Dallas took the lead again 24-17. Those looking for Butch Johnson’s famous California Quake dance after the touchdown were disappointed. Johnson was unable to do his dance because before the season Landry said there would no end zone dancing during the season.

The wild second quarter continued as the Raiders tied the game again on another Frank Hawkins touchdown pass from Marc Wilson. As the first half was coming to an end Danny White threw an interception on the Raiders 22 yard line. This time it would be the Raiders who would take advantage of the turnover. Marc Wilson drove the Raiders into Dallas territory. With nine seconds left the Raiders lined up for the go ahead field goal. Marc Wilson was also the holder on field goals and when he took the snap he stood up to attempt the fake. As he threw the ball he was hit by Dallas cornerback Dennis Thurman. The ball landed well in front of the intended receiver, but Dallas linebacker Anthony Dickerson was called for pass interference on the receiver even though he had no chance to catch the ball.

The pass interference penalty put the ball at the Dallas one yard line with only three seconds left in the first half. Instead of going for the field goal, Raiders coach Tom Flores sent his offense onto the field. Marc Wilson found tight end Todd Christensen over the middle for the easy score. The Raiders ended the wild first half of football with the lead, 31-24.

I guess both teams must have been tired from all the first half excitement because only a field goal was scored in the third quarter. That was from the Raiders who recovered a Danny White fumble on his own 20 yard line. They converted that into a Chris Bahr field goal and entered the fourth quarter with a ten point lead on the Cowboys, 34-24.

Dallas got the scoring going early in the fourth quarter with Danny White throwing his second touchdown pass of the game. White connected with receiver Doug Donley from 17 yards and cut the Raiders lead to 34-31.

The Dallas defense went back to work on the Raiders. With a little over 13:00 to play Anthony Dickerson forced a Marc Wilson fumble. Linebacker Mike Hegman scooped up the ball and ran it in for the go ahead touchdown from nine yards out. Once again the Cowboys had the lead at 38-34.

The Raiders were able to put another field goal on the board to tighten the Cowboys lead to 38-37. From that point things seemed to be good for the Cowboys.

With 7:00 remaining and the Raiders at the Cowboys 35 yard line, Dennis Thurman forced a fumble by Raiders receiver Dokie Williams. Dallas linebacker Dexter Clinkscale recovered.

The Cowboys moved the ball into Raiders territory with just over 3:00 to play in the game. On a 3rd and 15 Danny White looked deep for Tony Hill, but was intercepted by the Raiders at the 13 yard line and it was returned up to the 25 yard line.

Marc Wilson started to drive the Raiders. With some great passes to receiver Dokie Williams the Raiders got to the Cowboys nine yard line with only 20 seconds left in the game. Chris Bahr lined up for a 26 yard field attempt. As Bahr kicked the ball and it sailed over his offensive line, up jumped Dallas cornerback Michael Downs from behind his defensive line. Downs came within maybe an inch or two from blocking the kick, but the ball continued to sail up and through for the winning points. The Raiders had pulled off the upset in a wild night at Texas Stadium, 40-38.

The loss for the Cowboys was their first of the 1983 season. They would go 5-3 the rest of the season and finish with a 12-4 record. Their 1983 season would end at home in the playoffs to the LA Rams, 24-17.

You can view the box score here..

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198310230dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Washington – 1983

Opening night of the 1983 season found the Dallas Cowboys back at a place that held bad memories. The last time they were in RFK Stadium to play Washington was the 1982 NFC Championship game where not only did they lose their quarterback Danny White, but they lost the game as well, 31-17. It was the Cowboys third straight loss in the NFC Championship and now they were back at RFK Stadium to open the season on Monday Night Football.

From the start of the game the Cowboys just seemed to be hanging onto the loss in the Championship game. While the Redskins marched on as they pushed and shoved the Dallas offense and defense all over the field. It was a first half performance by the Cowboys that just made you shake your head and want to turn the television off and go to bed.

The Cowboys offense would gain only 85 yards in the first half. Tony Dorsett would gain 77 of those yards on a long run in which he was dragged down by rookie cornerback Darrell Green. It would also be the only time Dallas crossed mid-field in the first half. Quarterback Danny White would only complete one pass out of nine in the first half. The Dallas defense was no better as they gave up 261 yards to the Redskins offense.

Before the Dallas defense could get their cleats dirty they found themselves down 10-0 to the Redskins. The lone points for the Cowboys came after Dorsett’s 77 yard run that turned into a Rafael Septien field goal and a 10-3 Redskins lead.

The Reskins offense would score 13 more points in the second quarter and go into halftime with a comanding 23-3 lead on the Cowboys.

The Cowboys came out in the third quarter running the ball on four straight plays. On the fifth play of the drive Danny White made a nice play fake and went long for receiver Tony Hill. The pass was a perfect strike to Hill who caught it at the Redskins 30 yard line and outran the Redskins defense scoring from 75 yards with less than three minutes gone in the third quarter. Washington now lead 23-10.

The Dallas defense would finally hold the Redskins offense on their next drive following Hill’s touchdown and forced a punt. From there White and Hill would go back to work. From their own 49 yard line White once again unloaded a pass to Hill who made a great one handed catch over a Redskins defender at the Washington 20 yard line and scored from there. Dallas had closed the lead to just six points. Now only down 23-17.

Early in the fourth quarter things were still going the Cowboys way. The Redskins seemed to have gained a first down deep in Dallas territory on a Theismann to Don Warren reception. But Warren was called for pass interference and the Redskins were forced to attempt a field goal. Kicker Mark Mosley lined up for a 31 yard field goal, but the ball sailed wide right and the Cowboys got the ball back with a little over 9:00 to play in the game.

Danny White went back to work and drove the Cowboys offense 80 yards on 12 plays. One of the 12 plays was a fourth and 1 from the Washington 26 yard line where White pushed his way for a first down. A few plays later from the one yard line White rolled to his right looking for tight end Billy Joe Dupree in the back of the end zone. Seeing Dupree was covered White tucked the ball away and scored on his own. Dallas had finally taken the lead for the first time, 24-23.

On the next drive for the Redskins, cornerback Ron Fellows intercepted Theismann at the Washington 37 yard line and returned it to the four yard line setting up a first and goal for the Cowboys. White threw his third touchdown pass of the second half, this time to tight end Doug Cosbie with only 1:49 left in the game. Dallas increased their lead to 31-23.

The Redskins would score with just ten seconds left in the game against the Dallas prevent defense, but it was too little too late for them. The Cowboys had played an amazing second half of football outscoring the Redskins 28-7. Danny White more than made up for his 1 for 9 passing in the first half to complete 8 of 11 passes in the second half and four touchdowns. Three passing and one running. Dorsett finished the game with 151 yards rushing on just 14 carries. Tony Hill had 133 yards on three receptions and both third quarter touchdowns

The win may not have made up for the NFC Championship loss to the Redskins in 1982, but it was still a great comeback by the Cowboys in this heated divison rivalry. Down 23-3 at the half and looking horrible only to mount a comeback and pull out the game 31-30 showed that this Cowboys team did not have any quit in them.

It was coach Tom Landry who told them at halftime to not give up.

“I told them at halftime that it was just a matter of pride,” Landry said. “We were down and hadn’t done a thing and the defense had been on the field two quarters. That’s when you’ve got to draw from deep down. Our team showed it did have something.”

“If Washington had won, it might have gotten a little cocky and thought it could beat the world.”

You can the box score of the game here.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198309050was.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Green Bay – 1995

Looking back on my memories between the Cowboys and the Packers a few games come to mind. One being a second round playoff game from the strike shortened 1982 season where the Cowboys beat the Packers 37-26 at Texas Stadium. But then I started to think more and decided to write about one of the greatest NFC Championship games I have ever seen. The game was the 1995 Championship game at Texas Stadium with the winner earning a trip to Super Bowl XXX in Arizona.

When I think about Green Bay I always think about the cold weather. As the game was about to begin, up on the screen showed the temperature in Green Bay which was 25 degrees with a wind chill of minus 1 degree. In Dallas at the same time was 72 degrees and of course no wind chill. So I was very happy that the Cowboys were home for this game.

The game did not start off well for Dallas. On their first drive Reggie White beat right tackle Eric Williams and sacked Troy Aikman which forced a Dallas punt. The punt from Dallas punter John Jett was blocked by the Packers deep in Dallas territory. Brett Favre actually threw a touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead, but a delay of the game penalty on Green Bay took the touchdown off the board and they had to settle for a field goal and only a 3-0 lead on the Cowboys.

On the Cowboys second drive of the game Deion Sanders got involved in the offense by running a double reverse for a short gain. Then he caught a short pass from Aikman at the Packers 40 yard line and turned on the speed before being pushed out of bounds at the Packers 10 yard line. A few plays later Aikman connected with Michael Irvin from 6 yards out for the touchdown and a 7-3 lead.

Brett Favre and the Packers offense could not get anything going on their first two drives as they did not gain one yard on the Dallas defense. On their third drive things only got worse. Favre dropped back and attempted a screen pass that Leon Lett jumped up for and came down with the interception at the Packers 12 yard line. Dallas took advantage of the turnover and once again Aikman found Irvin for their second touchdown connection of the quarter from 4 yards out. Dallas took a commanding 14-3 lead, or so they thought.

On the first play of the Packers next drive after the kickoff, the Packers found their spark. Favre found his speedy receiver Robert Brooks as he blew past Dallas cornerback Larry Brown and scored on a 73 yard touchdown pass pulling the Packers closer at 14-10 as the first quarter ended.

The Packers finally forced a Dallas punt on their next possession and once again the Packers found a spark. This time it was their other speedy receiver Antonio Freeman who fielded the punt and raced towards midfield. Dallas punter John Jett was the only one left between Freeman and the Dallas end zone. Jett pulled down Freeman and at the same time grabbed his facemask and received a 15 yard penalty. This gave the packers great field position at the Dallas 35 yard line.

Green Bay took advantage of the punt return and the penalty as Favre tossed his second touchdown pass of the first half. This time he found tight end Keith Jackson on a 24 yard touchdown pass. This gave the Packers their first lead of the game at 17-14.

The Dallas offense was able to gather themselves and put together a nice drive that stalled at the Green Bay 17 yard line. From there they settled for a Chris Boniol 34 yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17.

The Dallas defense forced a Packers punt, but as the punt rolled towards the end zone for what Dallas thought would be a touchback. The ball took a strange bounce on the Texas Stadium turf and rolled out at their own 1 yard line. The Packers end zone was 99 yards away. Dallas started the drive with who else? Emmitt Smith. Smith found a huge hole created by his great offensive line and he went for a 25 yard gain. With a mix of passing and running by offensive coordinator Norv Turner the Cowboys drove 98 yards to the Packers 1 yard line. The final yard of the 99 yard 11 play drive was by Emmitt Smith who started the drive. Smith scored and Dallas was back on top 24-17 as the first half ended.

The first half leaned to Dallas in almost every way.

Time of possession, Dallas 23:00 – Green Bay 7:00

Offensive plays, Dallas 49 – Green Bay 21

First Downs, Dallas 16 – Green Bay 4

Rushing yards, Emmitt Smith 86 – Green Bay 16

Green Bay would control the third quarter for the most part. Their first drive would result in another field goal that pulled them closer to the Cowboys, 24-20. On their second drive of the quarter Favre threw his third touchdown pass of the game. Sitting on the 1 yard line of the Cowboys, the Packers caught Dallas in their goal line defense and substituted Robert Brooks late. Fave then tossed a 1 yard touchdown pass to Brooks and took the lead again, 27-24. The Packers would outscore the Cowboys 10-0 in the third quarter.

The Cowboys started a drive as the third quarter ended and continued on with that drive at the start of the fourth quarter. Once again it was a mix of running by Emmitt Smith and passing from Aikman to tight end Jay Novacek. From the Packers 5 yard line Smith followed big Nate Newton and Daryl Johnston and scored his second touchdown of the game. Dallas took the lead back, this time for good 31-27.

Brett Favre made is second mistake of the game as the Dallas defense flushed him from the pocket and forced him to the sideline. Instead of just throwing the ball away, Favre tried to force it to receiver Mark Ingram. Larry Brown stepped in front of Ingram at the Dallas 21 yard line and came up with the Cowboys second interception of the game with 10:00 remaining in the game.

On the first play of the drive for Dallas after the interception, Aikman found Irvin down the left sideline. Irvin actually managed to tip the pass to himself while being covered by a Packers cornerback. Not only did Irvin come down with the pass at the Packers 25, but he was able to keep his balance before going out of bounds at the 16. The Packers were called for pass interference which Dallas declined. On the second play Emmitt Smith found the end zone for the third time in the game. Scoring from 16 yard out Emmitt gave Dallas a 38-27 lead in the NFC Championship game.

It would be Emmitt Smith who put Dallas on his back in the fourth quarter as he gained 50 yards and scored twice. For the game Smith carried 35 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas would actually drive once again into Packers territory late in the fourth quarter, but kicker Chris Boniol missed a field goal with 2:35 left.

The Dallas defense turned it up a notch on the Packers last drive as they recorded three of their four sacks of Favre in the fourth quarter. The defense would also hold the Packers running game to only 48 yards in the game.

After a failed fourth down by the Packers, the Cowboys would take over and run out the final 1:12 of of the game. Dallas earned a third trip to the Super Bowl in four years as they beat the Green Bay Packers 38-27 in the 1995 NFC Championship game. Super Bowl XXX would be the Cowboys fifth Championship in eight tries as they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, earning them the team of the 90’s.

“We’re going to the Super Bowl,” said Irvin, who had seven receptions for 100 yards. “We let someone else borrow our house last year. We’re going home. That’s where we belong”.

“I think with our offensive line and the way we stayed committed to running the football, that kind of continual pounding would wear teams down,” Aikman said.

“To their credit, we jumped up 14-3 on them and they never backed down,” Aikman said. “They were never completely out of the ballgame.”

“This football team has been in this situation before,” Aikman said. “We get the ball late in the fourth quarter and you have to take time off the clock to put them away, and we were able to do that”.

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You can see the box score from the game here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199601140dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Philadelphia – 1992

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…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199301100dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Seattle – 1980

It was Thanksgiving Day in 1980 when Dallas met up with the Seattle Seahawks, who back then played in the AFC West. Seattle took the giving part of Thanksgiving way too far in this game in the form of points they gave up to Dallas.

The Cowboys came into the game with a 9-3 record, but still looking up to division leader Philadelphia. The Cowboys offense got off to a quick start with Danny White connecting with Tony Hill on an 18 yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.

On Seattle’s second possession they tried to fool the Dallas defense from their own 14 yard line. Quarterback Jim Zorn (Yes, the same Zorn who now coaches the Redskins) handed off to running back Lawrence McCutcheon who then lateraled the ball back to Zorn who was now standing in his own end zone. Feeling the pressure from Dallas linebacker D.D. Lewis, Zorn quickly threw the ball. The pass landed near one of the Seattle offensive lineman and Zorn was penalized for intentional grounding which resulted in a safety since he was in the end zone when he passed the ball. Dallas took a 9-0 lead in the first quarter.

A side note about Jim Zorn that most people may not know. Zorn was a Dallas Cowboy before being released by the team back in 1975.

Things would only get worse for Seattle during the second quarter as Dallas scored 21 points. Randy White sacked Jim Zorn on back to back plays, forcing Seattle to punt from their own five yard line. Danny White drove the offense down the field and threw his second touchdown pass of the first half, this time to tight end Billy Joe DuPree. Dallas increased their lead to 16-0.

On the kickoff the Seattle returner was stripped of the ball by rookie linebacker Anthony Dickerson. Doug Cosbie recovered for the Cowboys at the Seattle 19 yard line. A couple of plays later Ron Springs scored from three yards out and a 23-0 lead.

The turnover trend continued for the Seahawks in the second quarter, Zorn was sacked by Harvey Martin and fumbled. Larry Cole fell on the loose ball at the Seattle 32 yard line. Dallas turned to their running game with Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse to move inside the five yard line. From there Newhouse scored from the three yard line with under two minutes left in the first half.

In the first half alone Jim Zorn was sacked four times by the Dallas defense, intercepted once and was responsible for one of the two Seattle fumbles.

Opening the second half Jim Zorn found himself standing on the sidelines watching backup quarterback Sam Adkins take his share of the Seattle beating on this Thanksgiving Day. The Seahawks actually made it to the Dallas one yard line in the third quarter thanks to a 44 yard pass interference penalty on Dallas cornerback Benny Barnes. Seattle failed on first and second down runs. Adkins attempted a pass that fell incomplete on third down and on fourth down Adkins tried to sneak into the end zone, but was stopped by the Dallas defense. There would be no scoring for either team in the third quarter.

As the third quarter ended Dallas linebacker Mike Hegman intercepted his second pass of the game and gave the Dallas offense the ball at the Seattle 26 yard line. Tony Dorsett got involved in the scoring at this point with a one yard run which increased the Dallas lead to 37-0.

On the kickoff Lawrence McCutcheon was hit hard by Hegman causing a fumble which Dallas recovered at the Seattle 11 yard line. From there Dorsett recorded his second one yard touchdown run of the game and a 44-0 lead.

Once again on the kickoff Anthony Dickerson forced another Seattle fumble. Not wanting to be left out, it was Dallas kicker Rafael Septien who recovered the fumble and actually returned it 11 yards to the Seattle 14 yard line.

Dallas finished off their scoring when backup quarterback Glenn Carano threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree for his second score of the day. Dallas now had the lead on Seattle 51-0.

With only two and half minutes left in the game the Seahawks actually put together a scoring drive against mostly Dallas backups and prevented the shutout on the day. The score actually came from a short Jim Zorn pass as he came off the bench. This Thanksgiving Day game ended with the Cowboys completely destroyed the Seahawks 51-7.

On the day the Dallas defense registered six sacks, recovered four fumbles and intercepted three passes.

“We went into the game hoping our front four could dominate,” Cole said. “And I think we did a pretty good job.”

“I kinda feel for them,” said Dorsett, who managed 107 yards on his 24 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. “But it was a good game for us. We got some things going today that we’ve needed. The running game, for instance, has picked up considerably in the last few weeks and that’s a good sign.”

“I felt for Seattle,” said head coach Tom Landry afterward. “They’ve had injuries, the extra travel, the short week and their losing streak. On the other hand, we had a good first half (building a 30-0 advantage), both on offense and defense. And I thought our specialty teams were exceptional.”

“As I’ve said before, it’s nice to be in a playoff position, but what we really want to do now is continue to play well,” he declared. “If we can play well the next three weeks against the kind of competition we’re going to face (Oakland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia), we’ll be ready for a playoff shot.”

“If you score 51 points, even in a dummy scrimmage,” he said, “You’ve got to have something going for you.”

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You can see the box score from the game here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198011270dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Atlanta – 1980

It was a cold day at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium for this Divisional Playoff game against the Falcons. They had won the NFC West division with a 12-4 record. Coming to town was the Wildcard Cowboys with an identical 12-4 record, but lost out on the NFC East crown to the Philadelphia Eagles the last week of the season. The Cowboys had put the LA Rams away a week earlier in the Wildcard game, 34-13 at Texas Stadium.

Now they would meet up with the young and talented Atlanta Falcons. Their offense led by Steve Bartkowski at quarterback, running backs William Andrews and Lynn Cain and receivers Alfred Jenkins and Junior Miller.

Early in the first quarter Atlanta took command and seemed to drive the ball at will against the Dallas defense. Receiver Alfred Jenkins was wide open in the end zone, but dropped what would have been a sure touchdown and a 7-0 Atlanta lead. Atlanta settled for a Tim Mazzetti field goal for a 3-0 lead.

After a Dallas punt by Danny White, Atlanta took over and again started to drive on the Dallas defense. Once again Steve Bartkowski went to Alfred Jenkins who was wide open for a 66 yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 lead. Jenkins would dominate the Dallas secondary in the first half catching three passes for over 100 yards.

On the Cowboys next possession they drove down to the Atlanta 21 yard line. Danny White seemed to throw a perfect touchdown pass to receiver Butch Johnson who dropped the ball after he crossed the goal line. Officials ruled the pass incomplete. Television angles only showed Johnson from behind so it was unclear if Johnson ever had complete control of the ball in the end zone. Dallas settled for a Rafael Septien field goal to cut the Atlanta lead to 10-3.

Dallas would force an Atlanta fumble by Bartkowski that linebacker Anthony Dickerson recovered. Danny White and the offense went back to work as White connected with tight end Billy Joe Dupree and running back Ron Springs on a few passes. Mixed in between a few Tony Dorsett runs. Dallas got to the Atlanta five yard line when White passed to Dupree on the goal line and he forced himself into the end zone for the game tying touchdown.

The turnover did not seem to affect the Atlanta offense. Bartkowski continued to throw on the Dallas defense and once again found a wide open Jenkins. This time for a 50 yard gain. The Falcons drove to the Dallas one yard line where Lynn Cain ran it in and took the lead back, 17-10.

After another Dallas punt, Atlanta tried to position themselves for another score before halftime, but Dallas cornerback Steve Wilson made a diving interception of a Bartkowski pass with seven seconds left in the half to stop the drive.

Although Dallas was pretty much dominated in the first half by the Falcons, they found themselves down by only seven points at the start of the third quarter. They came out in the third with a nice pass and run from White to Preston Pearson who raced 34 yards to the Atlanta 20 yard line, but as he was being tackled Pearson fumbled the ball and Atlanta recovered.

Steve Bartkowski would need just 3:40 to drive his offense down the field. Once again hitting Alfred Jenkins for a 22 yard gain on the first play of the drive. It would be Jenkins last reception of the game. Bartkowski would make Dallas pay for the turnover by connecting with William Andrews on a 12 yard touchdown pass to increase the Atlanta lead to 24-10.

The Dallas offense seemed to wake up as the third quarter was ending. Danny White led Dallas on an 85 yard, 8 play drive that ate up 4:51 of the clock and took them into the fourth quarter. Robert Newhouse would finish the drive with a one yard touchdown run bringing the Cowboys back within seven points, 24-17.

The Dallas defense would force an Atlanta punt on their next possession, but just when you thought the Dallas offense would start rolling again a tipped pass resulted in a turnover. Danny White’s pass to Butch Johnson which was a little high tipped off Johnson’s fingers and Atlanta intercepted. Once again Atlanta took advantage of the turnover and converted it into points. Tim Mazzetti kicked another field goal with 6:37 left in the game to put the Falcons ahead 27-17.

This was only Danny White’s second playoff game as a starter after taking over for the retired Roger Staubach after the 1979 season. A lot of pressure comes with being the quarterback of the Cowboys, especially taking over for a legend like Staubach.

Danny White once again started marching the Dallas offense down the field after the Atlanta field goal. It only took White five plays covering 62 yards, which were all passes to get Dallas a score. As White scrambled around in the backfield he pointed into the end zone trying to confuse the Atlanta secondary. Atlanta would not bite on White’s pointing, but White decided to throw anyway and threw a beautiful pass in between two defenders that Drew Pearson caught for a 14 yard touchdown. Cutting the Atlanta lead to 27-24 with only 3:40 left in the game.

The Dallas defense forced Atlanta into a three and out on their next possession, but not after some wild footwork by Ed (Too Tall) Jones. On third down for Atlanta Jones jumped off-sides, but never touched an Atlanta player. Jones jumped back on side, but lost his balance and had to do a tight rope act across the rest of the Dallas defensive line as Bartkowski took the snap. Lucky enough no penalty was called and Atlanta would have to punt on their next play.

Dallas got the ball back with only 1:48 left to play on their own 29 yard line. Once again it was Danny White who took to the air with crisp passes to many different receivers. Four plays, all passes put Dallas at the Atlanta 23 yard line. On the fifth play White would throw off balance into the end zone where Mr. Clutch would be waiting. Once again it would be Drew Pearson coming down with the pass in the end zone for Dallas’ first lead of the game. With the extra point Dallas could have sealed the victory, but holder Charlie Waters fumbled the snap and was forced to throw into the end zone which fell incomplete. Dallas had the lead 30-27 with only 42 seconds left in the game.

On first down for Atlanta following the kickoff, Dallas veteran Larry Cole came around the left end and sacked Bartkowski at his own three yard line. Atlanta could only get to their own 21 yard line before a fourth down pass fell incomplete. Which allowed Dallas to run out the last few seconds and seal the victory over the Falcons 30-27.

“The best thing I can say about this bunch,” said an obviously spent Landry afterwards, “is that they won’t quit. Drew’s catches were miracles. Our guys were simply amazing. They just kept coming back.

“Danny probably felt more pressure today than he has all year and he responded. The touchdowns he threw were amazing.”

“This,” White was quick to admit, “was the biggest game I’ve played and I was really nervous going into it. But it’s comforting to look around and see the kind of help I was getting from everyone. I felt I was throwing the ball well and never really thought we were out of the game.”

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The victory put the Dallas Cowboys into the NFC Championship game where they would lose to the Eagles 20-7 in Philadelphia the following week.

The playoff game against the Falcons will always be one of my favorites. It was exciting from beginning to end. The game would also be voted one of the top ten games in Dallas Cowboys history.

You can see the box score here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198101040atl.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Kansas City – 1983

This must be one of the hardest Flashback posts of the season since Dallas and Kansas City have only played each other eight times over the years, with Dallas winning five of the eight. I try to come up with a game that I remember most for this feature and it’s not always a memorable one for most people.

So with this weeks match-up with the Chiefs getting closer we will Flashback to 1983 at Texas Stadium with the Chiefs taking on the 9-2 Cowboys. The Cowboys were just 2-2 in their last four games going into this game with the Chiefs and they were looking to get back on track after starting the 1983 season with a 7-0 record.

The Cowboys went up 7-0 early in the first quarter on their first possession with Ron Springs scoring on a 1 yard run. The touchdown came after Danny White connected with Tony Hill on a 58 yard pass on a third and two play. Hill was dragged down at the Chiefs seven yard line. A Rafael Septien field goal increased the Cowboys lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

With Dallas dominating the Chiefs as the second quarter moved on, Danny White decided to pull a trick out of his own pocket. White, who back then was also the Cowboys punter took a good look at the Chiefs defense as he prepared to punt and then stopped. White tucked the ball away and faked the punt. He gained 22 yards with a run up the middle, getting the Cowboys a first down at the Chiefs 39 yard line.

“He’s on his own.” Landry said. “I would never tell him to do crazy things.”

“I really didn’t do it for any particular reason, but we were sputtering.” White said. “I was watching the safeties, and they weren’t paying attention. They turned and ran and then it was just a matter of getting by the guy over the center.”

Two plays after the fake punt Tony Dorsett would score on a 28 yard run putting the Cowboys up 17-0. Then an interception by Cowboys cornerback Ron Fellows with 1:51 left in the first half positioned them for another Septien field goal from 41 yards out with just 15 seconds left. Dallas would go into halftime with a 20-0 lead on the Chiefs.

Dallas would continue their scoring early in the third quarter after Dallas safety Bill Bates sacked Kansas City quarterback Bill Kenney, causing a fumble which Dallas linebacker Dexter Clinkscale recovered at the Chiefs 32 yard line. Tony Dorsett would score again. This time on a 32 yard touchdown run. Putting the Cowboys up 27-0.

“That’s the type of run that takes advantage of my speed, the quick-hitting trap.” Dorsett said.

Tony Dorsett would finish the game with 108 yards rushing along with his two touchdowns. Those rushing yards also put him over 1,000 yards rushing on the season for the sixth time in seven years. Dorsett also went over 8,000 yards rushing in his career.

With the score 27-0 it seemed to be one play that woke the Kansas City offense up. A field goal attempt by the Chiefs kicker Nick Lowery in the third quarter was no good. But Dallas defensive tackle John Dutton blocked safety Michael Downs into Lowery, which gave the Chiefs a first down at the Cowboys 13 yard line. On the very next play Chiefs wide receiver Carlos Carson beat Dallas cornerback Everson Walls one-on-one for the Chiefs first touchdown of the game. The Chiefs got the ball right back after Dallas punted on their next possession and quickly went back to work. Quarterback Bill Kenney once again found Carson for a quick score. This time Carson scored from 48 yards and once again he beat Walls for the touchdown to close the Dallas lead to 27-14.

On the Chiefs next drive they moved to the Dallas 33 yard line. Looking to get within six points of the Cowboys, but the Dallas Doomsday defense stepped up. Ed (Too Tall) Jones and Randy White put pressure on Bill Kenney and flushed him from the pocket. It was then that rookie defensive end Jim Jeffcoat got his second sack of the game as he took down Kenney. They would also be Jeffcoats first two sacks of his young career. After two incompletions following the sack, Nick Lowery would miss a 51 yard field goal. Keeping the Dallas lead at 13 point, 27-14 at the end of the third quarter.

The Cowboys took advantage of the missed field goal and marched 66 yards for a score. Which included a 28 yard pass from Danny White to tight end Billy Joe DuPree and a 17 yard run by Ron Springs. Dallas scored when fullback Timmy Newsome took it in from 7 yards out, increasing the Dallas lead to 34-14.

The Dallas defense went back to work on the next Chiefs possession as they forced them to punt. Dallas punt returner Gary Allen returned the punt 68 yards for a touchdown to put Dallas up 41-14. It was the first Dallas punt return since 1975.

A late Chiefs touchdown by backup quarterback Todd Blackledge to wide receiver Stephon Paige made the final score 41-21, but it also made it clear that there was a lot of work to be done with the Dallas pass defense. The Chiefs threw for 432 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys. They also completed 33 passes on 59 attempts.

“I just know we are better than the yardage we are giving up,” Dennis Thurman said. “It’s really depressing. They threw a party and the only person they didn’t invite was Reagan. Fifty-nine passes. Incredible. As a cornerback, you go into this game looking forward to it because you know they are going to throw the ball. You come out regretting ever thinking about it. We wanted to show people we shouldn’t be ranked 26th in pass defense and now we will probably be 28th.”

Coach Tom Landry was also not happy with the amount of yards given up to the Chiefs passing game. A week earlier in San Diego the Dallas defense gave up 340 yards passing to Charger quarterback Ed Luther.

“Kansas City throws well, and their receivers catch as well as any I’ve seen.” Landry said. “The yardage concerns me. We’ve been giving up a lot (six) of 300-yard passing games.”

“We all realized today was very important, considering what happened last week, especially with the stretch run ahead of us,” Danny White said. “I felt going into the game this was going to be a real pivotal point in the season for us.”

The 41 points scored by Dallas against Kansas City was the most since scoring 51 in a 1980 Thanksgiving fest against the Seattle Seahawks, winning 51-7. Next up for the Cowboys would be their 1983 Thanksgiving Day game against the St. Louis Cardinals which they would only have three days to prepare for. Dallas would go on to beat the Cardinals 35-17.

You can check out the box score here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198311200dal.htm

Flashback: Dallas vs Denver – 1992

It was a cold, but not too cold Sunday afternoon on December 6, 1992 at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Dallas came into the game with an 11-2 record looking to clinch a spot in the NFC playoffs for the second straight season. They were well rested after having their usual time off after the Thanksgiving Day game where they beat the NY Giants 30-3. The Denver Broncos came into the game with a 7-6 record and playing without injured John Elway.

The Cowboys would jump out to a quick 14-0 lead on the Broncos after quarterback Tommy Maddox thew interceptions on his first two passes of the game. Troy Aikman would take advantage of the two turnovers by connecting with Michael Irvin on touchdown passes of 6 and 4 yards.

The Broncos would strike back with a touchdown pass from Tommy Maddox to Vance Johnson to cut the Dallas lead to 14-7 in the first quarter. With Maddox looking to tie the game in the second quarter he would throw his second touchdown pass, this one to Mark Jackson, but the extra point failed. Making the score 14-13. Dallas would close out the first half with a Lin Elliott FG and a 17-13 lead.

The interesting thing about this game would be how Denver head coach Dan Reeves would handle his quarterback position. With John Elway not playing, Reeves decided to alternate Tommy Maddox and Shawn Moore all afternoon. They would be some what effective during the game as both would combine for 208 yards passing and four touchdowns, but it would be Maddox who threw 4 interceptions during the game.

Dallas would hold the lead after three quarters 24-20. They took a 24-13 lead when Aikman tossed his third touchdown pass of the game to Jay Novacek. Denver answered with Maddox’s third touchdown pass of his own. This time to Reggie Rivers to get within four points of Dallas going into the fourth quarter.

With 9:05 to play in the game, Dan Reeves reached into his trick plays and came up with a play that would give Denver their first lead of the game. Looking at a third and 11 from their own 19 yard line, Maddox took the snap and lofted a swing pass to free agent rookie receiver Arthur Marshall who was lined up in the backfield. Marshall quickly fired a 50 yard strike to Cedric Tillman who than ran untouched for the go ahead touchdown on an 81 yard touchdown pass. Denver took the lead 27-24.

Dan Reeves had a feeling that the Dallas defense would bit on the play and come up to stop the run. Which was the case when cornerback Kevin Smith broke towards Marshall as he caught the swing pass.

“Arthur was a quarterback in high school,” said Reeves.

“We saw from our pre-season game (at Dallas) that that pass might be possible, based on how fast they come up for the run.”

Now it would be up to the Dallas offense to get them back in the game. They were down by three, in a hostile stadium, trying to recover from a trick play and a playoff berth at stake.

Troy Aikman led the Cowboys offense on an 11 play, 77 yard drive. During the drive Aikman would connect with Jay Novacek on three straight plays that covered 50 yards which brought them to the Denver 21. With a 1st and 10 from the Denver 21, Aikman was sacked by Denver defensive lineman Simon Fletcher and fumbled the ball. Both Aikman and Fletcher’s teammate Greg Kragen had a shot to recover the fumble, but it was Aikman who was able to pull the ball into his chest. A loss fumble at that point would have most likely lost the game for the Cowboys.

“It was real close,” admitted Aikman. “He probably had as good an opportunity at it as I did.”

Two plays later Aikman completed a huge third down pass to Michael Irvin to set up Emmitt Smith. With only 2:47 left to play Emmitt Smith took the handoff from Aikman and scored to take a 31-27 lead.

Cornerback Kenny Gant (aka, The Shark), ended the game with the Cowboys fourth interception at midfield on 4th and 10.

“To be able to drive the length of the field, to score and put us back ahead, that’s a tremendous job by Troy Aikman and our offense,” said coach Jimmy Johnson, who was more excited to have escaped with a win than to have officially enrolled in the post-season.

“We expected to be in the playoffs prior to the season and during the season, so that expectation never changed,” he said.

“We were fortunate old No. 7 wasn’t playing today,” said Aikman, referring to Denver’s injured quarterback John Elway.

“This is a hell of a wakeup call for us at this point in the season,” said defensive end Charles Haley, who doubled his season total with two sacks. “One thing we learned today is that having a two-touchdown lead early doesn’t mean the game is over. You can’t believe you’re going to take the offense out of the game that quickly.”

With the victory over the Denver Broncos the Cowboys earned a spot in the NFC playoffs in 1992. The following week would be a chance to lock down the NFC East division title against the defending champion Redskins in RFK Stadium. But the Redskins would not allow that in their building as they beat the Cowboys 20-17.

You can see the box score for the game here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199212060den.htm

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Flashback: Cowboys vs Giants – 1985

It was week 5 of the 1985 season. Sunday Night Football on ABC which back then was very rare. Both the Cowboys and the Giants had 3-1 records and they would battle it out at Giants Stadium for first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys had the leagues number 3 defense and the Giants had the leagues number 1 defense. But on that early October night defense would be hard to come by as both offenses took center stage.

Both offenses would combine for 896 yards and 59 points. Out of the 896 yards of offense, 774 of them would be by quarterbacks Danny White and Phil Simms through the air. Both teams would also turn the ball over a total of nine times, which would ultimately decide this classic battle.

The Cowboys dominated the first half with Danny White throwing two touchdown passes. One to Tony Hill and the other to Mike Renfro. The Giants could only manage two short field goals by kicker Jess Atkinson. There was not much excitement from either team in the first half. But as a Dallas fan I was loving the  domination over the hated division rivals. At halftime the Cowboys would lead 14-6.

It was the third quarter where things got interesting. The Giants offense which could not get anything going in the first half finally woke up and scored three unanswered touchdowns on the Cowboys defense. Simms lit up the Jersey sky with two touchdown passes to receiver Lionel Manuel from 51 and 23 yards out. The second touchdown to Manuel was actually tipped by Dallas linebacker Dexter Clinkscale at the two yard line right into Manuel’s hands for the Giants first lead of the game, 19-14. The first touchdown to Manuel would end with Atkinson missing the extra point, which would end up being the difference in the game.

The third Simms touchdown pass in the third quarter was actually a short 15 yard pass over the middle to running back George Adams who split the Dallas defense and raced 70 yards for a Giants 26-14 lead.

Dallas would shrink the Giants lead as the third quarter ended with another touchdown pass from Danny White to Mike Renfro to make the score 26-21 Giants.

The Dallas defense would once again come to life in the fourth quarter starting with a Dennis Thurman interception that resulted in a Rafael Septien field goal, cutting the Giants lead to 26-24. The Cowboys would fight their back from a 26-14 deficit and take the lead once again on another Septien field goal, 27-26. The field goal came as a result of a Simms sack at his own 24 yard line by Ed Jones and Randy White. Simms fumbled the ball and Jim Jeffcoat recovered it setting up the go ahead field goal. The Dallas defense would only give up a Giants field goal in the fourth quarter, which put the Giants back on top 29-27.

With 2:44 left in the fourth quarter and on his own 22 yard line, Phil Simms fumbled the snap from center Bart Oates and Dallas linebacker Eugene Lockhart recovered at the Giants 19 yard line. This resulted in Septien’s third field goal of the game and a 30-29 Dallas lead with only 2:19 remaining in the game.

“I just fumbled it,” Simms said. “Why I don’t know. I feel maybe I was trying to get away from the center too quick.”

The Giants received the kickoff with what they thought would be enough time to position themselves for a game winning field goal. Facing a 4th and 10 from their own 32 yard line Simms hit receiver Bobby Johnson to get them to midfield with only 1:45 to play. Three plays later Simms threw a wobbly pass that Dallas cornerback Everson Walls easily intercepted at the Dallas 37 yard line. With the Giants out of time-outs the Cowboys ran out the final 1:16 and came away with a wild 30-29 victory. The win put the Cowboys at 4-1 and on top of the NFC East, which they would go on to win with a 10-6 record in 1985. Their season would end in the playoffs visiting the LA Rams, losing 20-0.

“Both teams made a lot of turnovers,” Dallas coach Tom Landry said, “and I think that made it hard for the defenses. Both teams made a lot of mistakes.”

“We know they are always emotional here when they play against us with the crowd and everything,” Thurman said. “So it was important that we came out and showed them some emotion of our own right from the beginning. I think we did that.”

“We played well,” said Danny White, who threw for 342 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. “I’m a little frustrated because I made a couple of bad decisions, or we would have had 45 points. I think we are a half-step away from being a great offense.”

You can find the games box score here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198510060nyg.htm

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Flashback: Dallas vs Tampa Bay – 1981

As the 2009 season is about to begin I thought I would start a new feature about a popular match-up from the past against who Dallas is playing every week.

The first game this season is against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Playing against Tampa Bay brings back a memory from the 1981 playoffs. It was the divisional round and Tampa Bay was visiting Texas Stadium on a Saturday afternoon. Dallas had won the NFC East with a 12-4 record and Tampa Bay won the NFC Central with a 9-7 record.

In the days before the game there were newspaper articles about how the Tampa defense wanted the Dallas offense to pass on them because they thought they would have the advantage and take control of the game. Think again, because it was the Dallas Doomsday defense who was mad and took control early and never looked back.

Dallas beat Tampa Bay 38-0 with a suffocating defense and overpowering running game. It was the Dallas defense who sacked Tampa Bay QB Doug Williams four times and harassed him plenty of other times during the game, which included four deflected passes. They also added four interceptions on the day. Two by Dennis Thurman, one by Michael Downs and one by Ed Jones. Back in 1981 the Dallas defense was led by Randy White, Harvey Martin, Ed Jones, D.D. Lewis, Everson Walls and Dennis Thurman. They all dominated the game and held Tampa Bay to 222 yards of total offense and only 74 yards rushing. The Tampa offense wasn’t anything to ignore back in 1981. They had stars like Doug Williams, James Wilder, Kevin House and Jimmie Giles.

The Dallas offense got off to a slow start in the first quarter before putting things together early in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Danny White to Tony Hill. Dallas led 10-0 at the half and then exploded in the third quarter with 21 points with rushing touchdowns from Ron Springs, Tony Dorsett and James Jones. They finished the scoring in the forth quarter with another rushing touchdown, this time from Timmy Newsome. Keep in mind that the Tampa Bay defense was ranked number 2 in takeaways in 1981. They had defensive players like Lee Roy Selmon, Hugh Green and David Logan, but they did not create one turnover against the Dallas offense.

The Cowboys cornerback Dennis Thurman said it was their silent defensive leader Randy White who spoke up during the week before the game.

“He said he knew we were ready physically, but he wanted to make sure we were ready mentally,” Thurman said. “Randy doesn’t talk much, so when he does you listen. It was very inspirational. We knew he had a special feeling about this game.”

“We had two weeks to get ready for this game,” White said, “and when you have that long, you get irritated and mad.”

Said coach Tom Landry about the game…

“It was a very good football game for everybody.” Landry said. “We don’t have many of those games, maybe every five or six years.”

This Dallas playoff victory has always stood out as one of my all-time favorite games. It was a great game from beginning to end and I still watch it from time to time because I have it recorded. It would be the last win for the 1981 Dallas Cowboys because a week after beating Tampa Bay they would have to visit San Francisco for the NFC Championship game in what would be one of the most famous endings in NFL history.

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You can check out the box score from the game here…

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198201020dal.htm