The rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys has a long and storied history. From the first meeting in 1960, to the '60s and '70s when the Cowboys dominated this rivalry, only losing three times to the Eagles between 1967-1979, to the Bounty Bowl and now to Sunday night's matchup between two of the most exciting yet inconsistent teams in the league.
There is no love lost in this rivalry. The coaches feel it, the players feel it and the fans most certainly feel it. This game is always a tough, physical matchup no matter what each teams' records are.
We have seen our share of epic battles in this rivalry, from the 1980-81 NFC Championship Game, to two more playoffs meeting in the early '90s. We also saw the final playoff spot in the 2008 season be decided on the final week of the regular season between these teams that turned into more of a bloodbath than a playoff game.
This rivalry has always provided us with the unexpected. Any team is capable of coming out on top despite who has more talent or who has more to play for. Sunday night should be no exception.
After two monster seasons in Philadelphia, the first known for his play on the field and the second for his talk off it, Terrell Owens was back in Philly. This time for the rival Dallas Cowboys. Owens was suspended during the 2005 season for comments detrimental to the team and released after the season. Dallas signed him during free agency and the teams would meet up in Week 5 during the 2006 season.
Both teams were coming in as the contenders to win the NFC East. Dallas was 2-1 and Philadelphia was 3-1. This game would be pivotal in deciding the NFC East despite it being only the fifth week of the season. Everyone in the national media had this game pegged to be all about Terrell Owens but it turned out to be more about the Eagles pass defense as they held the Cowboys to just 233 passing yards and three interceptions.
Owens would haul in just three passes for 45 yards and had just as many drops as he did receptions. It would be a a tight one in the first half as the Cowboys contained Brian Westbrook and DeMarcus Ware returned a Donovan McNabb fumble 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. After a seven-yard Drew Bledsoe score, Dallas was able to go into halftime with a 21-17 lead.
Andy Reid and his staff proved once again that they know how to make adjustments and correct mistakes at halftime and the Eagles came storming back.
Midway through the second quarter while the Eagles were down at their own 13-yard line, Donovan McNabb threw a laser down the field to Hank Baskett and he took it the rest of the way for an 87-yard touchdown. The Eagles took the lead 24-21.
After a Mike Vanderjagt field goal tied it up early in the fourth quarter, McNabb drove the Eagles down the field again and hooked up with wide receiver Reggie Brown on a 40-yard touchdown strike to make it 31-24 Eagles.
Dallas looked to tied it up late as they were driving deep in Eagles territory when Lito Sheppard picked off a Drew Bledsoe pass and returned it 102 yards for the game-clinching score.
It was a back-and-forth game all night, but it was the defense—not Terrell Owens—that stole the show. Eagles defensive coordinator made some key adjustments at halftime and held the Cowboys to just three second-half points.
For one night at least, Terrell Owens was humbled along with the rest of the high-profile Dallas Cowboys. This night was all about Jim Johnson and his stout defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles went into Week 14 of the 2010 season with an 8-4 record and the Cowboys were just 4-8 and without starting quarterback Tony Romo, who was lost for the season earlier in the year after he broke his collarbone. Like many past games in this rivalry, the records didn't matter. This one was back and forth to the finish.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter but the Eagles gained some separation with a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Vick to offensive lineman Todd Herremans. Dallas settled for a 50-yard field goal and the halftime score was 14-10.
Dallas took control early in the second half with a 43-yard field goal and a three-yard touchdown run by running back Felix Jones. David Akers connected on a 39-yard field goal in the third and again on a 50-yarder in the fourth to make it a 20-20 game. Then DeSean Jackson did what only he can do.
The Eagles were on their own 9-yard line when Jackson turned a nine-yard pass into a 91-yard touchdown. He finished his 91-yard sprint by falling backwards into the corner of the end zone after Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman gave up on the play.
DeSean's electrifying play turned out to be the difference as the Eagles added another field goal and the Cowboys scored a meaningless touchdown, as the Eagles beat the Cowboys 30-27.
On November 6th, 1966 the Philadelphia Eagles offense couldn't do anything against a stout Cowboys defense, but it didn't matter. Special teams would dominate this game.
The Eagles would muster up just five first downs and 80 total yards of offense to go along with three turnovers.
Forty years before Devin Hester made his mark in the NFL as a punt returner, Timmy Brown carried the Eagles thanks to two punt return touchdowns and 247 total punt return yards. Aaron Martin added a kick return for a touchdown and the Eagles managed three touchdowns on special teams. It was all they needed as they held on late against the Cowboys in a 24-23 victory at Franklin Field.
Dallas out-gained the Eagles by 160 yards, 135 of those by future NFL head coach Dan Reeves. The Eagles upset the 5-1-1 Cowboys on a day when special teams stole the show.
The stage was set for an epic battle between the Eagles and the Cowboys on December 28th, 2008. Thanks to losses by playoff-hopeful teams, the Bears and the Buccaneers, the Eagles were one win away from sneaking into the playoffs at 9-6-1. The only team standing in their way was their Week 17 opponent, the Dallas Cowboys. The game was at the Linc and the Cowboys edged the Eagles 41-37 earlier in the season.
This was supposed to must-see TV, but it turned into a beatdown of epic proportions. Both teams exchanged field goals in the opening quarter but it was the Eagles offense that would get going in the second quarter. Donovan McNabb ran for one and threw for two touchdowns and the Eagles took a comfortable lead into half at 27-3.
The game went from being a blowout to being a laugher after two defensive touchdowns thanks to strips by Brian Dawkins. Dawkins stripped Tony Romo on a sack as the Cowboys were driving in Eagles territory. Chris Clemons scooped the ball and ran it back for the 73-yard touchdown. On the Cowboys' next drive, they were in Eagles territory again, this time at the 5-yard line. Marion Barber got the handoff, was striped by Dawkins and Joselio Hanson picked it up and returned it for 96 yards.
The Eagles were now up 41-3 and this one was easily over. The Eagles stomped all over the Cowboys, preventing them from making the playoffs while punching their own ticket.
The Eagles had taken beating after beating from the Dallas Cowboys since the mid-'60s, but it was all worth it in 1981 when the two teams met in the NFC Championship Game. Getting to the NFC Championship proved that Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil's turnaround was complete but the Eagles' revenge for all the losses they took at the hands of the Cowboys in the last two decades wasn't complete unless they came out on top as NFC champions.
Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski had a game to forget as he completed just 9-of-29 passes for just 91 yards and two interceptions. It wasn't his day but another Eagle had a career day. Running back Wilbert Montgomery put the Eagles on his back and carried them to a huge victory with his 194 rushing yards.
The Eagles defense also came up big, holding Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett to 41 rushing yards and quarterback Danny White to 127 passing yards.
Montgomery put the Eagles on top on their opening drive with a 42-yard touchdown run. The Eagles coasted from there thanks to a dominating run game. Montgomery and Leroy Harris combined for 254 rushing yards on 36 carries.
Twenty years after the Eagles' last trip to a championship game, where they upset the heavily favored Green Bay Packers, the Eagles were back in a title game. This time it was the Super Bowl.