25th Anniversary: Road to Super Bowl XXVII & Cowboys’ Win Over Eagles
Twenty-five years ago today (January 10, 1993) the Cowboys beat the Eagles 34-10 in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. It was the first postseason win on the journey to their Super Bowl XXVII Championship. Over the next three weeks, 5 Points Blue will take us along the same path, remembering the wins over the Eagles and 49ers and Bills as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the first of three championships by the Team of the 1990s.
The Cowboys had finished the 1992 season with a franchise-best record of 13-3. Their defense was ranked #1 in the NFL, and the Triplets had emerged as league superstars. The Cowboys were the youngest team in the league and hosting their first home playoff game since the end of the 1983 season.
Here are Fun Facts related to the 1992 NFC Divisional Round victory over the Eagles:
1. The Divisional Round Game Was The Third Meeting Between These Two Bitter Division Rivals. The Cowboys & Eagles split the regular season series.
Their first game of the 1992 regular season was a Monday Night Football matchup in Week 5 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It was the first the first time Eagles running back Herschel Walker faced his old team since the Cowboys traded him to the Vikings during the 1989 season. Herschel scored 2 touchdowns and totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage in the Eagles’ 31-7 win. The staunch Eagles defense harassed Troy Aikman repeatedly and intercepted him three times.
The rematch came a month later at Texas Stadium in Week 9. Herschel scored another touchdown against his old team, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Troy Aikman threw touchdown passes to Kelvin Martin and Daryl Johnston in the Cowboys’ 20-10 victory.
2. The Cowboys Played at Home Because They Were NFC East Champions
They were also the #2 seed in the NFC behind the 49ers (14-2). Meanwhile, the Eagles were a very strong team, finishing 11-5 and claiming a Wild Card berth. A third NFC East team, the Giants, also secured a Wild Card berth. The Eagles played their first-round Wild Card game at the Super Dome in New Orleans and trounced the Saints 36-20. It was the Eagles’ first playoff win since the 1980 NFC Championship Game. The Birds had momentum as they flew to Dallas for Round 2.
3. A Sellout Crowd of 63,721 People in a chilly Texas Stadium for the first home playoff game in nine years. It was an early kick (11:30am central) with Verne Lundquist & Dan Fouts on the call for CBS. The temperature at kickoff was 34 degrees with 15mph winds.
4. The Head Coaches Were Jimmy Johnson and Rich Kotite
To make sure his young Cowboys’ team didn’t get too big for their britches following a 13-win season, Johnson made an example of running back Curvin Richards who scored a touchdown but fumbled twice in the regular season finale against the Bears. Johnson cut Richards the day after the running back’s two fumbles.
Meanwhile, Rich Kotite did a marvelous job of keeping the Eagles focused on the 1992 season in spite of offseason tragedy. A month before training camp, Eagles defensive tackle Jerome Brown was killed in a car crash. The team retired Brown’s #99 jersey and kept his locker untouched. They also wore a patch on their jerseys to honor Brown and dedicated the season to him. Their mantra for winning the Super Bowl was “Bring It Home for Jerome”.
5. The Rosters for Both Teams Included Five Future Hall of Famers, including (Cowboys) Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley, and (Eagles) Reggie White.
6. The Cowboys’ starting offense featured six players elected to the Pro Bowl (Pro Bowl players in bold): QB Troy Aikman, RB Emmitt Smith, FB Daryl Johnston, WRs Michael Irvin & Alvin Harper, TE Jay Novacek, LT Mark Tuinei, LG Nate Newton, C Mark Stepnoski, RG John Gesek, and RT Erik Williams.
7. The Cowboys’ Starting Defense Was the Top-Ranked During The NFL 1992 Regular Season and it included DE Tony Tolbert, DT Tony Casillas, DT Russell Maryland, DE Charles Haley, LBs Ken Norton Jr & Robert Jones & Vinson Smith, CBs Kevin Smith & Larry Brown, and Safeties Thomas Everett & James Washington.
8. The Eagles’ Starting Offense Featured QB Randall Cunningham, RB Herschel Walker, RB Heath Sherman, WRs Fred Barnett (Pro Bowl) & Calvin Williams, TE Keith Byars, LT Ron Heller, LG Brian Baldinger, C David Alexander, RG Eric Floyd, and RT Antone Davis.
9. A Star-Studded Starting Defense for The Eagles Featured Three Pro Bowl Players (in bold): DE Reggie White, DT Andy Harmon, DT Mike Golic (the famous sports talk host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike who, now called Wingo & Golic), DE Clyde Simmons, LBs Seth Joyner & Byron Evans & Williams Thomas, CBs Eric Allen and Mark McMillian, and Safeties Rich Miano and John Booty.
10. The Cowboys Defense Smothered the Eagles. Randall Cunningham was sacked 5 times (2 by Russell Maryland, 2 by Tony Tolbert, 1 by Jim Jeffcoat). The Cowboys defense allowed only 63 rushing yards and 178 total net yards.
Herschel Walker, who scored 3 touchdowns
against his old team during the regular season, was held scoreless and limited to 29 rushing yards on 6 carries. He caught 6 passes for 37 yards but lost a fumble which was forced by Ken Norton Jr.
11. The Eagles Drew First Blood in the game, a 32-yard field goal by Roger Ruzek in the 1st quarter. Ruzek was familiar with Texas Stadium. He was the Cowboys’ kicker for three seasons from 1987-1989.
The Cowboys answered the Eagles score with a touchdown pass to a tight end…no, not Jay Novacek! He would score in the second quarter. The first of two touchdown passes in the game for Troy Aikman went to backup tight end DEREK TENNELL, a 1-yard score to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead in the 1st quarter.
Novacek’s 6-yard scoring strike from Aikman in the second quarter put the lead at 14-3. A 20-yard field goal by Lin Elliott extended the lead at 17-3 at halftime.
Emmitt Smith, who set the Cowboys’ single-season team record with 1,713 rushing yards in the regular season, pushed the lead to 24-3 with a 23-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter. Elliott’s second field goal of the day (this one from 43 yards) extended the Cowboys’ lead to 27-3 by the end of the 3rd quarter.
Derrick Gainer, who took over as Emmitt’s backup after Curvin Richards was released, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter to put the Cowboys up 34-3.
The Lone Eagles’ Touchdown came on a Randall Cunningham-to-Calvin Williams 18-yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter.
12. As for The Triplets, It Was A Great Day For The Trio. Troy finished with a passer rating of 112. He was very efficient, completing 15 of 25 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Irvin was the game’s leading receiver with 6 catches for 88 yards. And Emmitt finished with 114 rushing yards on 25 carries (including his 23-yard TD run).
Al Messerschmidt via AP Images
The victory by the Cowboys was their first playoff home win since January 16, 1983, a span of 10 years.
With the Divisional Round win over the Eagles in the rearview mirror, it was time to focus on the week ahead: a trip a San Francisco’s Candlestick Park to take on the top-seeded 49ers.