A Complete Guide to the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles Rivalry

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Philadelphia Eagles' Troy Vincent (L) breaks up a pass intended for Dallas Cowboy's Michael Irvin in the first quarter 26 October in Philadelphia, PA. The Eagles won 13-12.    AFP PHOTO  Tom MIHALEK (Photo by TOM MIHALEK / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP via Getty Images)
TOM MIHALEK/Getty Images

Welcome to B/R Gridiron's Rivalry Week, when we're breaking down some of the best ongoing team-level conflicts in the NFL. In this spot, we look at two NFC East rivals who have long despised each other, partly because one has had a lot more success than the other.

This is everything you need to know about decades of strife between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.


Rivalry Facts

First meeting: Sept. 30, 1960—In the second game in Cowboys history, the Eagles (who would win the NFL championship) merely survived with a 27-25 victory over a team that wouldn't win a game all season.

All-time series: 122 meetings—Cowboys 69, Eagles 53. Dallas has won three of four playoff meetings and 14 of 23 overall since 2009.

What makes them hate each other: The Eagles have one of the most passionate and rabid fanbases in sports. Ever since "America's Team" joined Philly's division in 1961, those fans haven't had a lot to cheer for while the glamorous, antithetical Cowboys have won five Super Bowls.

When the rivalry was born: Jan. 11, 1981—It was a rivalry before that, but from 1967 to 1980, Philadelphia beat Dallas just four times in 27 matchups. The Eagles finally flexed their muscles by easily defeating Tom Landry's Cowboys as a one-point underdog at Veterans Stadium in the 1980 NFC Championship Game. The rivalry only increased in bitterness moving forward.


PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Charlie Johnson #65 of the Philadelphia Eagles knocks the ball out of the hand of quarterback Roger Staubach #12 of the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game October 23, 1977 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsyl
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Memorable Battles and Iconic Moments

Nov. 12, 1979: The Eagles lost their first eight games at Texas Stadium until they finally beat a team that had been to three of the last four Super Bowls. The victory was necessary for Philly to clinch only its second playoff berth since 1960. In the first half, Eagles kicker Tony Franklin nailed a 59-yard field goal, which was the second-longest in NFL history at the time.

Oct. 25, 1987: Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan had accused Tom Landry of running up the score in the past and was apparently irked when Landry had used several picket line-crossing veterans in a one-sided victory in the midst of a players' strike two weeks prior. Philadelphia not only won the rematch at Veterans Stadium, but Ryan also rubbed it in by having quarterback Randall Cunningham run a fake kneel in the final seconds, drawing a pass interference penalty that led to a touchdown. "If there wasn't bad blood before," color commentator Joe Theismann said, "there's going to be bad blood now."

Nov. 23 and Dec. 10, 1989: These matchups from '89 are known as Bounty Bowl I and II because Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson claimed Ryan put a bounty on Dallas kicker Luis Zendejas, who was smashed on the opening kickoff in the first meeting. That sparked a war of words between Johnson and Ryan, and when the two met again in December, Eagles fans pelted Johnson and other Cowboys folk with snowballs.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Buddy Ryan of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on before a football game against the Minnesota Viking on November 19, 1989 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Eagles won 10-9.  (Photo by Mitchel
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Jan. 10, 1993: In the teams' first Texas-based playoff meeting, the Cowboys scored 34 uninterrupted points and hammered the Eagles en route to winning Super Bowl XXVII.

Oct. 31, 1993: In Philadelphia, Emmitt Smith rushed for 237 yards as Dallas won 23-10. It was a career high for Smith—and a team record until 2011. No back has ever rushed for more yards against the Eagles.

Jan. 7, 1996: The Cowboys scored 27 unanswered points in another postseason blowout en route to another Super Bowl victory.

Oct. 10, 1999: When legendary Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending injury, Eagles fans cheered and then proceeded to chant "Deion sucks" when Deion Sanders attempted to comfort his teammate.

Dec. 19, 2004: The Super Bowl-bound Eagles beat the Cowboys but lost star receiver Terrell Owens, who broke his ankle on a horse-collar tackle by Dallas safety Roy Williams. Owens was unavailable until Super Bowl XXXIX.

Oct. 8, 2006: Owens suited up for the first time as a Cowboy against his former team, but he caught just three passes in a 38-24 Eagles victory.

Jan. 9, 2010: After defeating the Eagles twice by a combined 44-16 in the regular season, the Cowboys again beat Philadelphia in a penalty-plagued playoff matchup. The 34-14 loss was Donovan McNabb's last game as an Eagle.

Dec. 29, 2013: In a Week 17 matchup with the NFC East title on the line, the Cowboys used backup quarterback Kyle Orton in place of the injured Tony Romo. Dallas lost by two points after Brandon Boykin intercepted Orton late in the fourth quarter.

Dec. 9, 2018: With the NFC East up for grabs, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott hooked up with receiver Amari Cooper on two go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdowns and then another one to win it in overtime. Thirty-seven points were scored in the fourth quarter and overtime in a game that decided the division.


Brad Bower/Associated Press

Top Player Comparisons

Roger Staubach vs. Donovan McNabb: You could sub Norm Van Brocklin for McNabb if you'd like, but it's hard to compare either to Dallas' legendary quarterback group of Staubach, Troy Aikman, Don Meredith, Tony Romo and Danny White.

Emmitt Smith vs. Steve Van Buren: Smith is the league's all-time leading rusher, and Dallas also had Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett at running back. Because Van Buren played seven decades ago, it's easier to compare those two to Brian Westbrook, who was never on the same level. That said, Van Buren retired in 1951 as one of the greatest players in history. He was a five-time All-Pro (Smith earned that honor four times).

Michael Irvin vs. Harold Carmichael: Carmichael is a Hall of Famer but was never quite as dominant as Irvin, who was a star on three Super Bowl teams.

Bob Lilly vs. Reggie White: They're two of the most dominant defensive players in league history. White received more Pro Bowl (13-11) and All-Pro (8-7) honors, but he did some of his best work as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Dallas fans can also throw Randy White's name out there when discussing great defensive linemen.

Chuck Howley vs. Chuck Bednarik: This is the closest thing we have to an apples-to-apples comparison, as their careers overlapped for five years. Bednarik, who along with Reggie White and Van Buren was recently named to the NFL's 100th anniversary all-time team, was the more accomplished of the two linebackers. (Landry, Staubach, Smith, Lilly and Randy White also made the all-time team.)

Larry Allen vs. Bob Brown: Both are Hall of Fame offensive linemen, but Allen was part of a Super Bowl team and was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro more than Brown. He's also on the 100th anniversary all-time team, while Brown is not. 


Associated Press

Winning Arguments

Why it's better to be an Eagles fan: Since the Cowboys last played in a conference championship game in 1995, the Eagles have won a Super Bowl, lost another and played in four additional conference title games.

Why it's better to be a Cowboys fan: Dallas is a five-time Super Bowl winner and the winningest NFC team of the modern era.