Resumption of the 49ers-Cowboys playoff rivalry. What are your memories? – GV wire

Now Shanahan will play a starring role when one of the NFL’s great rivalries resumes as the 49ers’ head coach instead of son of their offensive coordinator when San Francisco travels to Dallas on Sunday in a wild card game.

“I think it’s as cool as it gets because it’s the coolest part of my childhood growing up,” Shanahan said. “It was year seven, year eight, year nine, ’92, ’93, ’94, every year. I thought we were the best team in the league. … I remember being on that sideline and just watching how good the Cowboys were and it was amazing. And the next year, go to Dallas for home-field advantage. And we all know what happened there, that one wasn’t even close.

Shanahan then dove deep into the following season’s encounter which San Francisco won as if the game had taken place last week instead of more than a quarter century ago.

“As you can see, I still remember those games,” he said. “It’s part of my childhood, it was such cool football because everyone knew for those three NFC championships, those three years were the Super Bowl.”

Memorable confrontations in the 70s, 80s, 90s

The 49ers-Cowboys’ playoff history is rich with back-to-back conference title games in the early 1970s, the iconic “Catch” of the 1981 season, and then the heated rivalry in the 1990s when the Cowboys won the first two meetings on the way to the Super Bowl titles, then the Niners won Game 3.

“Boy, the games were close,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show. “It was just nip and tuck all the way, and it was a game here, a game there, and this is the playoffs. These things are very slim as to how you can end up advancing in these playoffs. In those years, it made a big difference.

This will be the eighth time these franchises have met in the playoffs, tied for second in all Super Bowl-era matchups after the Rams and Cowboys’ nine games.

Hall of fame

But with six of the previous matchups coming in the conference title game, few rivalries have had so many big games or star players such as Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders, Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Michael. Irvine.

“I’m pretty damn excited, man,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “Are you kidding me? The Dallas-Niners of the early ’90s, some of the championship games, for me, coming and watching those, I can hear (John) Madden and (Pat) Summerall talking about it. My first playoff game against Dallas and Niner, I’m pretty excited to do it man. It’s exciting.”

It’s been a long time since this will be the first playoff game since the 1994 season when the Niners beat the Cowboys in the NFC title game.

In fact, it’s the first time since 1998 that both teams have made the playoffs in the same season, which means current players don’t have the same nostalgia for the rivalry.

“Not at all,” Shanahan said. “I wish I could say yes, but some of these players were born in the 2000s. So you like to think that, but every day in the quarterback room, when I ask certain questions like, ‘Have you seen Wedding Crashers? ‘ And they don’t even know it sometimes.

Here’s a look at the history of the playoff rivalry.

The America Team

The teams played each other in the first three years after the merger with the Cowboys beating the Niners for the NFC title game in 1970 and 1971 and again the following year to help launch their “Team USA” status. .

In the first game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Dallas used 143 rushing yards and a touchdown from Duane Thomas and two interceptions from John Brodie to win 17-10.

The Dallas defense again dominated the following year with three more Brodie interceptions in a 14-3 victory that led the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl title.

The next Divisional Round meeting at Candlestick Park helped Staubach earn the nickname “Captain Comeback.”

Staubach came into the game in the fourth quarter with Dallas trailing 28-13 and led the team on three scoring drives. He threw a 20-yard TD pass to Billy Parks with 1:20 left to cut the deficit to 28-23. After a successful onside kick, the Cowboys won it on a 10-yard TD pass from Staubach to Ron Sellers with 52 seconds left.

The catch

The Niners fell after that three-year run, but got revenge with their own late-game comeback to launch a dynasty in the 1981 NFC Championship Game.

Dwight Clark makes “The Catch”, a pass from Joe Montana that tied the game late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park on January 10, 1982. The extra point gave the 49ers a 28 -27 win and a spot in the Super Bowl. (Phil Huber/The Dallas Morning News via AP, file)

San Francisco took over at their 11 with 4:54 to play behind 27-21 when Montana took over. He picked Dallas’ doomsday defense with a quintessential West Coast offensive drive.

Next, the Niners faced a third-and-4 at the Dallas 6 with less than a minute left when Bill Walsh called “Spring Right Option.” Montana rolled right and couldn’t find an open receiver immediately. Then, with Ed “Too Tall” Jones and the Dallas defense closing in, Montana threw a high pass that seemed to come out of the end zone.

But Dwight Clark jumped over Everson Walls in the back of the end zone and went down with “The Catch” to give San Francisco a 28-27 lead.

The victory was sealed when Danny White lost a fumble and San Francisco won its first of five Super Bowl titles in 14 years two weeks later.

“The start of a dynasty,” former 49ers president Carmen Policy said. “I don’t let myself go down the road of what would have happened if he hadn’t made that take.”

How about the Cowboys?

While the Niners’ dynasty was launched with this victory, it was the beginning of Dallas’ demise under coach Tom Landry. The Cowboys hit rock bottom with a one-win season in Jimmy Johnson’s rookie in 1989 before beginning a steady ascent.

This helped the Cowboys qualify for the 1992 NFC title game in San Francisco against a stacked Niners team led by Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

But the young Cowboys didn’t flinch, getting two touchdowns from Smith to build a 23-20 lead, then Aikman helped seal it all with a 70-yard pass to Alvin Harper to set up another touchdown.

The following season’s rematch was not as close, with the Cowboys taking a 28-7 halftime lead on the way to a 38-21 win after Johnson secured victory earlier in the game. the week. Johnson punctuated both victories with his “How ’bout them Cowboys!” proclamation in the victorious locker room.

“I’ve been talking all week,” Johnson told his team. “If you want to talk, you have to walk. Thanks to you guys, you all did the walkin.

Young’s breakthrough

After those two losses left people wondering if Young would ever win the “big one”, the following year’s match helped establish him as one of the greats.

Eric Davis started with a 6 pick on the opening possession. Two more turnovers helped San Francisco take a 21-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

“Spotting them with a 21-point lead was like spotting Carl Lewis 20 yards out in a 100-yard sprint,” Smith said.

Young did the rest with two TD assists and a TD run and won the Super Bowl MVP title two weeks later.

“Responding to that pressure is one of the great feelings in sports,” he said after the win over Dallas.

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