The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles share one of the NFL’s greatest rivalries. That rivalry has included several intense playoff matchups that have helped shape legacies while also creating lifelong memories for both fan bases. This rivalry is where we start our look at the NFL’s Week 7 historical matchups — games that included several epic playoff games from years past.
The Eagles, 52-68 lifetime against the Cowboys, are 1-3 against the Dallas in postseason play. On two occasions during the 1990s, the Cowboys defeated the Eagles in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl titles. In 2009, Dallas again bested Philadelphia in the playoffs while breaking their 14-year playoff winless drought.
But the most memorable playoff game between the two teams was the Eagles’ lone playoff victory over Dallas. It was on Jan. 11, 1981, as Philadelphia was looking to defeat Dallas in the NFC Championship Game. In front of a frenzied home crowd, the Eagles, who had one point had lost nine straight games against the Cowboys during the 1970s, defeated Dallas 20-7 en route to their first Super Bowl appearance.
Week 7 is here, but who’s going to cover the spread? Pete Prisco and R.J. White join Will Brinson to pick every game and offer gambling advice. Listen below, and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
After running back Wilbert Montgomery started the game with a 42-yard score, the Eagles, three weeks after losing to the Cowboys in their regular-season finale, scored 13 unanswered points in the second half. Montgomery would finish with 194 rushing yards on 26 carries, while Philadelphia’s defense held Dallas to just 206 total yards while forcing four turnovers.
The Eagles, while trying to get under the Cowboys’ skin, elected to wear their away white jerseys while forcing Dallas to wear their “bad luck” blue road jerseys as opposed to their preferred white jerseys (Dallas never again wore their bad luck blues in Super Bowls after wearing them in their first Super Bowl, a 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V). While the Cowboys’ brass “flew into a rage” after getting the news, there was nothing they could do.
“They were very open about which colors they preferred,” former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil said of Dallas’ jersey preference, via the team’s official website. “We thought, ‘Why let them wear it?’ It was just one more thing for them to think about.”
Dallas’ blue jerseys again proved to be unlucky and Philadelphia finally defeated their division rival in a big game.
“It’s time someone gave us the credit we deserve,” former tight end Keith Krepfle said. “We kicked the hell out of them.”
The two longtime division rivals have faced each other in the playoffs on four different occasions. While Miami has a 61-48-1 overall record against Buffalo, the Bills are 3-1 against Miami in the postseason.
The Bills’ greatest playoff win over the Dolphins is perhaps their most improbable one. Decided underdogs heading into the 1992 AFC Championship Game, the Bills, who needed to mount the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history just to get out of the first round, stunned the Dolphins in Miami, 29-10, while joining the ’70s Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to appear in three straight Super Bowls.
While Steve Christie’s five field goals played a significant role in the outcome, Buffalo running backs Thurman Thomas and Kenneth Davis combined for 279 total yards and two touchdowns. The Bills’ defense, led by Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, and Phil Hansen helped hold Dan Marino and Miami’s offense to just 276 total yards while forcing five turnovers.
“In 1983, we were gaining the luster from the 1981 season. Then, we lost the NFC championship to Washington.”
Nearly a quarter century later, former 49ers defensive captain Dwight Hicks can still recall his feelings before and after San Francisco’s devastating loss to the Washington Redskins in the 1983 NFC Championship Game.
Two years removed from their first Super Bowl win and a year removed from a disappointing 1982 season that saw them miss the playoffs, San Francisco captured the NFC West division title before edging the Detroit Lions by a point in the first round of the playoffs. Their reward was a date against the Redskins, the defending Super Bowl champions who that season set a then-NFL record for points scored in a regular season.
Washington stormed out of the gate, as two touchdowns by league MVP John Riggins and a 70-yard scoring drive from Joe Theismann to Charlie Brown gave the Redskins a 21-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Joe Montana and the 49ers then mounted a furious comeback, as Montana threw three touchdowns that included his game-tying 12-yard scoring pass to Mike Wilson.
The Redskins, however, won the game on a Mark Moseley field goal with 40 seconds left following a controversial holding call on 49ers safety Ronnie Lott. Lott was also the victim of an interference penalty in the third quarter that helped set up Washington’s second touchdown.
San Francisco, despite its valiant effort, was going home, while Washington would later be demolished by the Marcus Allen, Howie Long and the rest of the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.
“Right now, I’m a little bitter about the officials,” Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh told the media after the game, via Sports Illustrated. “It’s just too bad that a championship game’s decided by a call that close. I’d rather lose by the Redskins driving for a touchdown than on a call so close.”
While the loss stung, it ended up being the springboard for what would be an historic 1984 season for the 49ers. In 1984, San Francisco became the first team in NFL history to win 15 regular season games. Led by the league’s second scoring offense and top ranked scoring defense, the 49ers bludgeoned future Super Bowl winners New York and Chicago before dismantling Dan Marino, Don Shula and the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX.
“Those feelings, after that game and the things that were said after that game lasted the whole offseason,” former 49ers linebacker Keena Turner told the NFL Network back in 2006. “That was the longest offseason because we couldn’t get back to playing again to make this thing right.”
Packers vs. Raiders
John Madden shared two memorable stories about legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi during a 2006 interview documenting Madden’s Hall of Fame enshrinement. Madden, the Oakland Raiders head coach from 1969-78, first recalled the first time he met Lombardi as a young and upcoming coach.
“Vince Lombardi was speaking at a clinic in Reno, Nevada, and I saved my money and went up there,” Madden said. “And Vince Lombardi spoke on one play for eight hours. One play, eight hours! I could have spoken on any topic for like two minutes, and I realized, at that point, I don’t know a damn thing. I’m a bluff.”
Several later, Madden was a rookie defensive assistant coach on a Raiders team that had just won the AFL title. Their reward was a matchup with Lombardi’s two-time defending NFL champion Packers in Super Bowl II.
“It a thrill of my life to be on the same field coaching against Vince Lombardi,” Madden said. “I remember standing across the field and at one time, I was directly across the field [from Lombardi], and I looked over there, and I said, ‘I’m coaching against Vince Lombardi!’ and that was the greatest feeling in the world. The Packers won that game, and it was also Vince Lombardi’s last game as the Packers’ coach.”
As they had in the previous year’s Super Bowl, Green Bay ran away with the game in the third quarter. Donny Anderson’s third quarter touchdown run jump-started the Packers’ second half surge, while Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley’s 60-yard interception return for a score put the game away.
Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr took home his second consecutive Super Bowl MVP award, as the Packers won their fifth championship in a five-year span.
While it would be 29 years before the Packers would win another Super Bowl, Madden would guide the Raiders to their first Super Bowl title nine years later in Super Bowl XI.