Editor’s note: With our Birds out of playoff contention and the ‘Boys getting a chance at a wildcard spot, we Philly fans can take solace in reliving the Birds’ best victories over “America’s Team”…
There is no team Eagles fans dislike more than the Dallas Cowboys, probably because the Cowboys dominated the divisional series for a long, long time and they did it with such an air of superiority. That’s why any victory over Dallas is a cause for celebration. Still, some victories are sweeter than others, so here, in descending order, are the Eagles’ 10 best victories in this 54-year rivalry.
10. Sept. 15, 1991 – The Eagles had one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, led by future Hall-of-Famer Reggie White, and they were at their best on this day when they clobbered the Cowboys 24-0. The Eagles held Dallas to 90 yards of total offense and racked up a team-record 11 sacks, 4 ½ by DE Clyde Simmons, which is also a team record. They also intercepted QB Troy Aikman three times and held Emmitt Smith to just 44 rushing yards. Dallas would go on to win NFC East (the Eagles lost QB Randall Cunningham to a knee injury on opening day in Green Bay), but they were manhandled on this day.
9. Nov. 12, 1979 – The Eagles beat the Cowboys 31-21 at Dallas for coach Dick Vermeil’s first victory over the Eagles’ arch-rivals. The Eagles had lost nine straight to Dallas and Vermeil had lost his first six against the Cowboys, and he always pointed to this game as the one that made his team a contender. And the Eagles did it on Monday Night Football back in the day when that game was special. Wilbert Montgomery rushed for 127 yards, Harold Carmichael caught two TD passes from Ron Jaworski and Tony Franklin kicked a team-record 59-yard field goal.
8. Sept. 3, 2000 – The Eagles won 41-14 at Dallas for coach Andy Reid’s first win over Dallas. Like Vermeil’s first win over Dallas, this game showed the football world that the Eagles had turned things around after going 5-11 in Reid’s first season. In steamy conditions – the temperature was well over 100 degrees — the Eagles opened the game with a successful onsides kick and they used that as a springboard to an easy victory. Duce Staley rushed for 201 yards, second most in team history.
7. Dec. 22, 2013 – The NFC East championship was at stake when the Eagles and Cowboys played at Dallas in the final game of last season. And there was no consolation prize – a wild-card berth — for the loser. The Eagles got a big break when Dallas QB Tony Romo was sidelined with a back injury he suffered the week before, but they still had to hold on for dear life against backup QB Kyle Orton. LeSean McCoy rushed for 131 yards and caught a TD pass from QB Nick Foles, the defense held Dallas RB DeMarco Murray to 51 yards on 17 carries, and CB Brandon Boykin made a game-ending interception as the Eagles walked away with a 24-22 victory to give Chip Kelly the division title in his first season as coach.
6. Dec. 10, 1995 – The Eagles’ 20-17 victory was a highlight of coach Ray Rhodes’ tenure with the team, but it didn’t come easily. It was bitterly cold – wind chill was minus-7 at kickoff — and Dallas had a 14-point lead before the Eagles tied it in the fourth quarter. With a little more than two minutes to play, Dallas faced fourth-and-inches from their 29 and coach Barry Switzer gambled – and lost. Eagles fans went wild as Emmitt Smith was stacked up for no gain, but officials ruled the two-minute warning sounded before the snap, so Dallas got another shot and Switzer gambled again – and lost again. The Eagles stuffed Smith for a second time and that led to Gary Anderson’s game-winning, 42-yard field goal, which eventually propelled the Eagles to a wild-card berth in Rhodes’ first season.
5. Dec. 18, 1988 – Buddy Ryan’s Eagles went into the final game of the season at Texas Stadium facing three possible scenarios — they could win the division, win a wild card or not make the playoffs at all. It all depended on their game as well as several others, including the biggest one, the Giants vs. the Jets – the Giants had a one-game lead on the Eagles and would have won the division with a victory. The Eagles won easily and within the space of a few minutes all the other games ended just like they needed them to, including the one that counted the most – the Jets scored a last-minute TD to edge the Giants 27-21 and when the dust had settled the Eagles were NFC East champs for the first time in nine years.
4. Nov. 23, 1989 – This is the last time the Eagles played on Thanksgiving and it was a memorable game that has gone down in football lore as “The Bounty Bowl.’’ The Eagles won easily, 27-0, but the headlines were all about coach Buddy Ryan and the alleged “bounties’’ he put on the heads of some Cowboys, including kicker Luis Zendejas, a former Eagle. Zendejas was knocked silly by Eagles LB Jessie Small and Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson was livid about. In his post-game press conference, Johnson said “I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game. I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room.’’ The next day, Ryan, who always left the field right after games and never shook hands with the opposing coach, said, “I resent that. I’ve been on a diet. I’ve lost a couple of pounds and I thought I was looking good.’’
3. Dec. 10, 1989 – Some call this Bounty Bowl II and others simply call it the snowball game. WR Cris Carter caught two TD passes in the Eagles’ 20-10 victory, but once again the headlines weren’t about the game. A blizzard the day before left tons of snow in the stands at Veterans Stadium and some fans took advantage of that to make snowballs, which they whipped at the Dallas players as they left the field – and Jimmy Johnson was an especially inviting target. Johnson got pelted, Philadelphia fans got another black eye in the national media and after that the Eagles cancelled beer sales in the fourth quarter of their final two home games of the season.
2. Oct. 25, 1987 – Call this one Buddy’s revenge. The 1987 season was interrupted by a players strike and replacement players filled NFL roster for three games. The replacement Eagles played at Dallas on Oct. 11 and the Cowboys had several veterans cross the picket line, including Hall-of-Famer DT Randy White. The Cowboys led 41-22 late in the game and coach Tom Landry pulled most of their starters before the Eagles threatened to score a meaningless TD. Landry put his starters back in to keep the Eagles from scoring and this incensed Ryan. So, when the two teams met two weeks later – after the strike had been settled – Ryan got even. The Eagles were leading 30-20 in the closing seconds and Ryan told QB Randall Cunningham to fake a kneel-down like he was running out the clock, then jump up and throw a pass to WR Mike Quick in the end zone. Interference was called and the Eagles scored from the 1 on the next play and the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry became even more heated.
1. Jan. 11, 1981 – The highlight of the Dick Vermeil era and still one of the greatest games in Eagles history, as the Eagles met the Cowboys in the NFC Championship for a shot at their first Super Bowl. The Eagles had edged the Cowboys for the NFC East title even though both teams finished 12-4 and Dallas beat the Eagles 35-27 in the final game of the regular season – the Eagles won the title on a points-differential tie-breaker. It was another bitterly cold day at Veterans Stadium, but Eagles fans hardly noticed after RB Wilbert Montgomery ran through a big hole in the first quarter and dashed 42 yards for one of the most treasured TDs in team history on his way to a 194-yard rushing day, and the Eagles rolled 20-7 on their way to Super Bowl XV.