The San Francisco 49ers are taking on the Dallas Cowboys in a battle for NFC supremacy with only one goal: win and advance to Super Bowl XXVII. The Niners would go onto dominate this postseason, defeating the Buffalo Bills (14-13) at home before their second straight title game victory over then defending champion Denver Broncos (35-21).
The 1995 NFC Championship Game was a game that is still talked about today. The Cowboys and 49ers went to overtime, but the Cowboys would win on a field goal in the first OT.
Arguably the greatest rivalry of the back half of the 20th century, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers played seven times in the NFC Playoffs between 1970-94, including five times in the NFC Championship Game. The final three of those battles, which will resume Sunday in the Super Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, took place between 1992-94, with all three games sending the winner on to a Super Bowl victory.
Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith were pitted against Steve Young, the Cowboys, and the lurking ghost of former starting quarterback Joe Montana. These three games are among the most memorable of their period, making it difficult for Dak Prescott and Jimmy Garoppolo to surpass them.
The resurrected Cowboys are crowned NFC Champions in 1992.
Getty Images/Steve Young | MediaNews Group/The Mercury News
The 49ers were coming off a heartbreaking defeat in the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants, both literally and symbolically. After an unusual fumble by Roger Craig gave the Giants life in the closing minutes, they won on a last-second field goal.
Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall, whose blindside hit on Joe Montana inflicted such damage to his surgically repaired back that he was unable to play in 1991, forcing backup Steve Young to take over as starter. Young rose to the occasion, leading the 49ers back to the NFC Championship game against the Cowboys, who had rebounded from almost a decade of mediocrity as a club.
The Cowboys were in bad shape when Jerry Jones acquired them in the late 1980s. The new owner, on the other hand, acted quickly and aggressively to turn the Cowboys around. Jones, for example, abruptly fired famed coach Tom Landry and replaced him with personal buddy and University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson. However, Jones also drafted wide receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Troy Aikman, and running back Emmitt Smith, known as “The Triplets,” in consecutive years from 1988 to 1990, as well as a slew of other top talents via the trade of Herschel Walker to Minnesota, to immediately return the Cowboys to the top of the NFL.
The Cowboys completed their ascension to the top by defeating Young’s 49ers 30-20 in the 1991 NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park, in the first playoff rematch since “The Catch” game in 1981.
1993: After Aikman’s injury, Kosar saves the Cowboys during a weekend at Bernie’s.
For the second year in a row, the Cowboys and 49ers played in the NFC Championship game.
With the help of 2 Emmitt Smith touchdowns, the @dallascowboys earned their spot in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 12, 2022
The Cowboys-49ers rivalry was back, as the two teams faced in the NFC Championship Game in January 1993, this time at Texas Stadium, with the Cowboys as reigning Super Bowl winners.
Three straight touchdowns in the second quarter propelled the Cowboys to a 28-7 halftime advantage, two of which came on Aikman touchdown throws. However, Aikman suffered a concussion in the third quarter, and the 49ers scored a touchdown to narrow the margin to 28-14.
The 49ers seemed to be on the verge of a comeback akin to Montana’s legendary comeback from a 28-point deficit at the outset of his career in 1980. The 49ers, on the other hand, were denied this time by an odd source: Johnson’s former Miami quarterback, Bernie Kosar.
Following departing the Hurricanes after the 1984 season, Kosar became a standout with the Cleveland Browns. Kosar led the Browns to the AFC Championship Game three times, each time being defeated by John Elway’s Broncos. Head coach Bill Belichick cut Kosar in 1993, and Dallas scooped him up to be Aikman’s backup.
Kosar was now required to put the 49ers at bay in the NFC Championship Game. With 4:55 remaining in the third quarter, Kosar converted a vital 3rd-and-9 from deep in their own end, then connected Alvin Harper for a 42-yard touchdown to restore the lead to 35-14, paving the way for a 38-21 triumph and second straight Super Bowl victory against the Buffalo Bills.
Young eventually gets rid of the Cowboys and Joe Montana’s ghost in 1994.
The 49ers traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs after their first loss to the Cowboys in the 1992 NFC Championship Game, cementing Young as their quarterback, despite widespread skepticism among 49ers fans who had seen the hated Cowboys beat Young in consecutive NFC Championship Games and yearned for the days when Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl titles in nine seasons.
Young, on the other hand, would receive a third chance to beat Dallas in the NFC Championship game, finally putting the ghosts and doubters to rest. With Deion Sanders on board, the 49ers finished 13-3 during the regular season and held home field advantage against the Cowboys for the second time in three years.
The Triplets would not be able to complete a three-peat this time. The 49ers jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, sealing the win late in the half with a touchdown throw from Young to Jerry Rice, giving the 49ers a 31-14 lead in a game they later won 38-28.
Then, in Super Bowl 29, Young exorcised all the lingering demons by throwing for six touchdowns in a 49-26 thrashing of the San Diego Chargers.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
The winner of the Cowboys-49ers game on Super Wild Card Weekend is expected to win the Super Bowl, according to history.
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