SOUTH FLORIDA, January 30, 2014 — In 1989, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys, fired Tom Landry, and installed Jimmy Johnson as head coach. Although Dallas went 1-15 that year, they would soon launch a dynasty. As the National Football League prepares for Super Bowl XLVIII in the New York metropolitan area, a trip down memory lane allows for a look back at the period from 1992 through 1997.
This is Part V of an eight-part series.
Here are the recaps of Super Bowls XXVII through XXXII.
Super Bowl XXVII, 1992 – In the 1970s, it was the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers battling for supremacy. In the 1990s, it was the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The AFC was an afterthought, with the Bills reaching the game for the third straight year in 1992.
The Bills did overcome a 35-3 third quarter deficit to stun the Houston Oilers 41-38 in the Divisional round for the biggest comeback in NFL history. In the NFC Title Game, after a 10-10 tie at the half, Dallas took over and beat San Francisco 30-20. This was revenge for “The Catch” in the 1981 season, although that could have been revenge for Dallas defeating San Francisco in consecutive seasons in the early 1970s.
Super Bowl XXVII was a blowout, as Buffalo turned the ball over nine times after taking an early 7-0 lead. Down 14-7, an interception by the Cowboys in the end zone prevented Buffalo from tying the game. Dallas won by 35 points, and would have set a record for points had Leon Lett not showboated and fumbled near the goal line.
Jimmy Johnson yelled, “How ’bout them Cowboys!” The Gatorade bucket lore gained a new wrinkle when the players messed up Johnson’s perfect hair, and owner Jerry Jones showed up on the sideline with a comb to fix it. 52-17 Cowboys
Super Bowl XXVIII, 1993 – This was a rematch of the year before. The Bills reached the Super Bowl for the fourth straight year. The Cowboys and 49ers met again in the NFC Title Game, an easy 38-21 Dallas win.
Buffalo actually led Dallas, 13-6, at the half, but on the second play of the second half, Thurman Thomas was hit and fumbled. The ball was returned for a touchdown to tie the game, and Dallas never looked back. The Cowboys only led 20-13 after three quarters, but put the game away in the fourth quarter.
Troy Aikman and MVP Emmitt Smith brought Dallas its fourth Super Bowl win, and gave Buffalo a record fourth straight Super Bowl loss. Despite back to back titles, an internal feud led to Jones firing Johnson and replacing him with Barry Switzer. 30-13 Cowboys
Super Bowl XXIX, 1994 – For the third straight year, the Cowboys and 49ers battled in the NFC, and this time the 49ers triumphed 38-28. The AFC had an overachieving San Diego Chargers team in their first Super Bowl. Head coach Bobby Ross worked miracles, and quarterback Stan Humphries was tough. San Diego defeated superior opponents in Miami and Pittsburgh, and seemed happy to just be in their first Super Bowl.
Steve Young, desperate to escape the legacy of Joe Montana, threw six touchdown passes and zero interceptions, and had the highest quarterback rating ever for a Super Bowl. As expected, it was a blowout. While many credited Bill Walsh with building the team from George Siefert’s first Super Bowl win five years prior, Coach Siefert finally escaped the shadow of his predecessor with this win. The 49ers became the first team to win five Super Bowls, with zero losses. 49-26 49ers
Super Bowl XXX, 1995 – The Cowboys and 49ers were expected to meet for the fourth straight year in the NFC Title Game, but a Green Bay Packers team led by Coach Mike Holmgren, aka The Walrus, and a young maverick quarterback named Brett Favre, upset the matchup. Favre was the league MVP, and Green Bay shocked the 49ers in the playoffs. In the NFC Title Game, the Packers led Dallas after three quarters as well, before Dallas took over.
In the AFC, The Steelers survived a Hail Mary attempt on the final play to survive against the Colts and go to the game they felt they should have been in a year earlier. For the third time in Super Bowl history, Dallas and Pittsburgh met.
Dallas was the better team, but the Steelers kept hanging around. Dallas led 13-0 and 20-7, but Pittsburgh closed to within 20-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left after a perfectly executed onside kick call by Bill Cowher led to a touchdown. With a chance to pull off the upset, Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O’Donnell threw his second interception to Larry Brown, whose gift in his breadbasket led to the ten point finale. Dallas had their fifth Super Bowl title in eight appearances, and third in four years. Pittsburgh had their first loss in five trips. Jerry Jones and Barry Switzer won without Jimmy Johnson. 27-17 Cowboys
Super Bowl XXXI, 1996 – Brett Favre led the Green Bay Packers back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 29 years. The New England Patriots reached the game for the first time in 11 years. New England again benefitted from better teams being knocked out.
The first quarter was the highest scoring in Super Bowl history, with New England leading 14-10. By halftime, the Packers led 27-14. After the Patriots closed to 27-21, Super Bowl XXXI MVP Desmond Howard returned the kickoff 99 yards for the final points of the game. Bill Parcells took his second team to the Super Bowl, but did not prevail. 35-21 Packers
Super Bowl XXXII, 1997 – The Packers returned with relative ease for the NFC, while the AFC featured the Broncos. The previous year, the Broncos were favored in the AFC and were shocked in the playoffs. The players even cried afterwards, saying they let John Elway down. Elway had three Super Bowl losses, but this time the Broncos had running back Terrell Davis.
The game was tied 24-24 in the fourth quarter when Elway made a leaping run for a first down. He spun like a pinwheel in the air, but got necessary the yardage. Denver took the lead, and Brett Favre’s final drive stalled around midfield. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen held the trophy and exclaimed, “This one’s for John!” The Packers lost their first Super Bowl, and the Broncos finally won one. 31-24 Broncos